Let’s Visit Texas Part 2 (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, 1986)

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Don’t You, Forget About Me…

Cannon Films got the rights to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and immediately set to get Hooper to make a sequel.  Except, Hooper was not really interested in a sequel.  He agreed to be a producer, but only after they found they could not afford a director, did Hooper agree to direct.

While the studio expected a straight up horror film, Hooper had something else in mind.  A gory and dark comedy.  This is even evident in their poster, which mimics the Breakfast Club poster.

Two guys harass radio DJ Stretch (Caroline Williams), only to find themselves attacked and killed by Leatherface and his clan.  This is a pretty memorable scene, in part due to the obnoxious preppy guys and their demise.  Stretch starts to rebroadcast to solve the crime.

 

Meanwhile, the crime is also being investigate by Lefty (Dennis Hopper)…Lefty has been on the trail of the Sawyer family for over a decade, as they killed his nephew Franklin and nearly killed niece Sally.  Leatherface and Chop Top (a family member who was in Vietnam during the first film) show up to the radio station looking for Stretch.  She convinces Leatherface to let her live,  rushing off with Chop Top.  She follows them to their new home (they are hiding out in below what appears to be a the remains of a theme park).  Soon Lefty shows up as well.  This results in a big chainsaw fight between Lefty and the family.

The film’s final scene mimics the original film’s final moments, but reverses them.  The film also is where the cannibalism aspect comes in.  The family has an award winning chili recipe (hint, the special ingredient is people meat) that they take around Texas.

The cast here is a lot of fun.  Hopper is over the top as Lefty and his Chainsaw battle is downright hilarious.  William’s handles being both the terrified victim, yet also is smart enough to find ways to survive.  Bill Mosely is great as the absurd Chop Top, the weird hippie of the family.  Bill JohnsonThe make-up effects and set design are beautifully theatrical.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was not well received, but it’s become a cult classic, and deservedly so.  It is entertaining, even though it is not a scary film by any means.  Horror fans should not miss this clever skewering of Horror sequel tropes.

Try, Try Again (The Stepfather 2: Make Room For Daddy, 1989)

stepfather_2_poster_bTerry O’Quinn returns in this sequel that finds a healed Jerry in a high security mental institution.    He eventually breaks out and assumes the role of psychologist Gene Clifford (which will turn out to be a poor choice later in the film for a pretty obvious reason).  While leading a therapy group for divorced women, he finds Carol Grayland (Meg Foster) and her son Todd (the late Jonathan Brandis).  He starts building a relationship with them while her friend Matty (genre veteran Caroline Williams) starts to look into Gene’s background.

While Todd seems to like Gene, Carol is more prone to question things.  Though she is good at pushing those concerns aside, even when Matty is pressing buttons.

Like the first film, the primary focus is the state of mind of the Stepfather.  It is simple mistakes that interfere with his family, and his attempts to fix it only make it worse.  Carol trusts him less and less, and the moment when she realizes that Gene is a killer is very well done.  It involves the running theme of the films where the Stepfather whistles Camptown Ladies.

Director Jeff Burr had the film chopped up against his desire.  The Weinstein Brothers felt that it tested poorly and needed more blood.  The re-shoots were done without Burr or O’Quinn as both refused to participate.  In spite of this, Stepfather 2 is still a pretty fine follow-up focused overall less on bloodiness and more the characters.  It is a decent follow up to the original and still an enjoyable thriller.

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