Combustible Celluloid
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With: Dennis Hopper, Caroline Williams, Jim Siedow, Bill Moseley, Bill Johnson, Ken Evert, Harlan Jordan, Kirk Sisco, James N. Harrell, Lou Perryman, Barry Kinyon, Chris Douridas
Written by: L.M. Kit Carson
Directed by: Tobe Hooper
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 101
Date: 08/22/1986

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Meat and Greet

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

In the mid-1980s, Tobe Hooper signed a three-picture deal with Canon to make this, Lifeforce and Invaders from Mars, though I'm not exactly sure which ones Hooper wanted to make and which ones Canon wanted him to make. I think Hooper cultists would cast a vote for Lifeforce as the best of the three, but this sequel to Hooper's masterpiece isn't bad either.

It's meant to be fairly funny, but it's a good deal gorier and more disturbing than the original. Certainly it's far better than the soulless 2003 remake.

Dennis Hopper stars as a former Texas Ranger called "Lefty" who is on the trail of the killers from the first film (he's the uncle of two of the original victims). As the film begins, two annoying, destructive frat boys call up a radio station and are still on the phone when the killers strike, and the DJ, who calls herself "Stretch" (Caroline Williams) gets the whole thing on tape.

Lefty encourages her to play the tape on the air, which brings the killers to the radio station. They attack, but Leatherface (Bill Johnson) falls in love with Stretch and lets her live. She follows the killers back to their lair, where she spends the rest of the film, trapped in a huge underground lair that sprawls on forever, and is decorated with bones, spiderwebs and Christmas lights.

For some reason, Lefty always arrives on the scene too late, and poor Stretch is forever tortured and tied up, and finally has to save her own skin.

Hooper's tone is uneven, and he often goes right past disturbingly funny into just plain disturbing. But his camerawork is amazing, especially in the film's second half, using the enormous, twisty dungeon like a truly horrifying haunted house. The insane family members, including Chop-Top (Bill Moseley) and Drayton Sawyer (Jim Siedow) rant and rave through truly mind-bending dialogue, and Leatherface's little wiggly dance just before he strikes is enough to cause nightmares.

L.G. McPeters co-stars and Tom Savini provided the superb, gut-churning special effects.

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