I can never pick between the first and second Texas Chainsaw Massacre films. Some days I prefer the original, with its bleak, unforgiving realism and creepy squealing noises. Others I prefer the sequel, with its colorful characters, high energy and wonderful Breakfast Club poster art. They’re completely different films and it’s hard to really compare them. I think, in their way, they stand as equals: totally different from, but completely complementary to, one another.
As sequels go, TCM 2 is about as brilliant a choice as you’ll ever find. It plays almost like a satire of its big brother, and that’s by design: any attempt to recapture the feel of the original Chain Saw would be a failed one. Hamming it up and pulling the Sawyer family (get it? Sawyer?) into the ’80s is the only way to go. The material lends itself to dark humor so well, and the laughs seem almost to intensify the actual scares. It makes for a hell of a ride.
This movie has it all. It has Dennis Hopper! And Bill Moseley turns in an iconic performance as Chop Top, Leatherface’s disgusting, plate-headed, Vietnam veteran brother. And Leatherface himself, played this time by Bill Johnson, is creepier than ever, especially after he develops an (at times adorable) crush on Caroline Williams. Chainsaw 2 is just fun. It’s not the dark, horrific film that its predecessor is, sure, but at its heart it’s just as sinister. And that’s why I love it.