DVD Review HTF REVIEW: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Cameron Yee, Oct 19, 2006.

  1. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer

    May 9, 2002
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    The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
    The Gruesome Edition

    Release Date: October 10, 2006
    Studio: MGM Studios
    Year: 1986
    Rating: Not Rated
    Running Time: 1h41m
    Video: 1.78:1 anamorphic
    Audio: English Dolby Surround
    Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
    TV-Generated Closed Captions: English
    Menus: Animated
    Packaging/Materials: Single-disc keepcase with cardstock slipcover
    MSRP: $19.98

    The Feature: 4/5
    As a reluctant horror film viewer I wasn't too enthused when I received the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2" (TCM2) as my first official Fox Studios-distributed MGM product. I started to watch "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" several years ago with some friends, but I wound up going to my bedroom to watch "Austin City Limits" instead**, never quite able to drown out the sounds of buzzsaws and screaming from the other room. So it was with some reservation I loaded the screener of TCM2 - and was much relieved when I realized it was going to be a very different film from its predecessor. Though Leatherface and his family were back, Director Tobe Hooper made a more darkly comedic and campy film this time around, and those things I can handle much better than the realistic horror and violence that was the original's calling card.

    In the second installment the family of cannibals (now named the Sawyers) is still on the loose, largely dismissed by the authorities as a myth after finding no evidence of the sole survivor's claims. The lone exception is Marshall "Lefty" Enright (Dennis Hopper), uncle of one of the original victims, who has been pursuing every possible lead for over a decade. He's been basically unsuccessful until a recent killing of two yuppy males bears the telltale signs of chainsaw teeth. Local radio DJ "Stretch" (Caroline Williams) managed to record the killings on audio tape and Lefty decides to use it (and Stretch) to draw out the psychotics. She manages to survive the mayhem caused by Leatherface (Bill Johnson) and Chop Top (Bill Mosely), mainly because the Leatherface of the sequel is granted a bit of a soul when he falls in love with her at the peak of his chainsaw frenzy. The rest of the film follows Stretch and Lefty as they pursue the cannibal family into their underground lair, though the two are pretty much on separate paths and adventures until the final twenty minutes.

    The female lead, for all her screaming and victimization, is written as a strong person who fights back and eventually defeats her captors. This, along with some genuinely humorous lines and dialogue make TCM2 stand out as more than just your average slasher flick, though horror fans should also find plenty to like as the blood and guts flow heavily once inside the family lair. Another significant departure from the status quo is the bright, sometimes garish color palette, which gives the horrorific proceedings a twisted carnival or circus feel. Despite my initial misgivings about watching the film, the satire and dark comedy won me over, making TCM2 one of the rare horror films I would recommend to non horror film enthusiasts.

    **No, I didn't know the film was shot in Austin until I reviewed this DVD.

    Video Quality: 4/5
    Black levels are good and colors have a muted or slightly desaturated quality typical of film stock used at the time. Despite the latter the funhouse-quality colors are presented effectively. Edge enhancement is evident in the early daylight scenes, but is not noticeable in the rest of the film, which is predominantly made up of dimly lit or night time scenes. The print is generally clean with the occasional appearance of dust and dirts specks. Film grain is evident but few should find this objectionable given the genre and subject matter.

    Audio Quality: 3/5
    The Dolby Surround audio track is largely center and front channel dominant, with minimal surround activity until the final 20 minutes when there are echo and panning effects. No LFE is evident. The dialogue is consistently clear and intelligible and, despite the frequent screaming and yelling, the audio never sounds overmodulated or strained.

    Special Features: 4/5
    Commentary with Director Tobe Hoooper and David Gregory, director of "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Shocking Truth": Gregory takes the role of interviewer, often drawing out Hooper to share stories or explain how certain scenes were shot. Even so, the commentary is a bit on the dull side, with Hooper seeming more interested in just watching the film.

    Commentary with actors Bill Mosely and Caroline Williams and special effects makeup creator Tom Savini: A much livelier commentary than Hooper and Gregory's but still rather thin on substantial information about making the film. Mosely and Williams dominate the track, but most of what they say are reactions to watching the movie. The group clearly had a fun time, but listeners will likely feel like sort of a fifth wheel when all is said and done.

    The Cutting Room Floor - Deleted Scenes: Six scenes largely coming from an abandoned part of the story that dealt with the Sawyers going hunting for yuppies in the city. The footage seems to be sourced from low resolution videotape.

    "It Runs in the Family" featurettes (1h28m): Well made and thorough look into the film production, covering the script, production design, the cast, make-up, working with Hooper, and the public response to the film. The documentary has plenty of recent interviews with the cast and crew, though Hooper is noticeably absent. Skip the commentaries and watch this instead. (1.78:1 anamorphic video)

    Original Theatrical Trailer: (Widescreen matted 4:3 standard video)

    Photo gallery: Over 140 still images covering behind-the-scenes in production and make-up effects, video and soundtrack covers, lobby cards, and promotional materials.

    Recap and Final Thoughts

    The Feature: 4/5
    Video Quality: 4/5
    Audio Quality: 3/5
    Special Features: 4/5
    Overall Score (not an average): 4/5

    Reluctant horror film fans may be pleasantly surprised by this darkly comedic and satirical film. Existing fans should have plenty to appreciate about this release with its good picture quality and sound, an excellent documentary about the film, and sizeable image gallery. The weak points are the commentary tracks, but the quality of the other extras make up for their shortcomings.

    Equipment: Toshiba 42" CRT RPTV fed a 1080i signal from an Oppo DV-971 DVD player. Audio evaluation is based on an Onkyo TX-SR575x 5.1 AVR running JBL S26 mains and surrounds, JBL S-Center, and BFD-equalized SVS 20-39 PCi subwoofer.
  2. CoreyII

    CoreyII Second Unit

    May 15, 1999
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    As much as I love the original, because it just plain scares the hell out of me, I really got a kick out of number 2 and will definitely add it to my collection. Looking back, I think Tobe Hooper made a bold move by making the sequel a dark twisted comedy. He definitely didn't retread what he did in the previous film. As a matter of fact, after recently watching the Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning I was hoping that in the third film (because you know there will be one) the filmmakers introduce a Dennis Hopper like character to track down the Hewitt family, especially Sheriff Hoyt, after the crap he pulled in this latest film, I'd say he is due for a comeuppance.

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