The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one of the best horror movies of the 1970s. It is gritty, dirty, and full of Texas sweat. Like a lot of films from that decade, it is documentarian in style, not realistic exactly but textile, you can feel it in your bones – the heat, the dirt, the blood.
In contrast, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is totally ’80s in every way. It is a neon, day glow, music video of a film that doesn’t take anything seriously except for its attempts to have serious fun with the material.
It stars Dennis Hopper as Lt. Boude “Lefty” Enright the uncle of two of the victims of the first film. The movie is set thirteen years after the original film and an opening scrawl informs us that the crazed chainsaw-wielding cannibals from the first film are still on the loose and on the move. We see them chase down a couple of frat boys driving recklessly on the highway and cut them up.
The boys were on the telephone with a local radio DJ, “Stretch” (Caroline Williams) when the attack occurs and she recorded the entire incident. She takes the recording to Lefty and the two of them go on the search for the killers.
Before long they are trapped inside an underground funhouse full of leftover amusement park junk, skeletons, skulls, and dismembered corpses.
Leatherface (Bill Johnson) falls in love with Stretch, while his family members chop up humans and turn the meat into chile to sell for the famous Oklahoma University vs Texas football game.
It is hard to explain just how over-the-top nutso this film really is. It is intentionally ridiculous, verging on camp. For the first twenty minutes or so I was really annoyed by it. I love the original film and this seemed like a terrible parody of it. Then I realized that was kind of the point and learned to sit back and enjoy myself.
More or less. It really is a bit too much. I can handle my gore pretty well, and I’m not opposed to using excess to create comedy. But eventually, it becomes boring. I was exhausted by the end.
At least Dennis Hopper seemed to be enjoying himself.