By Raymond Knowby


It’s a total departure from the original in style! But…it’s also a witfest of black humor, something allegedly Tobe Hooper was aiming at with his first movie but ended up scaring everyone to death instead. What we get from this is a wicked fusion, a truly sick melding of comedy and over-the-top gore effects that plays out like an evil, hullucinated fairytale.

And that’s what’s so fun here, why make the same movie twice? Slightly slick production shooting, coupled with Tom Savini pulling out his stops (on par with his Day of Dead stuff made a year before–his career apex or nadir, if you will), makes this a total contrast in many ways. Leatherface (Bill Johnson) and the family are back, ten years later, but they’ve been in hiding, capturing highway motorists and making award winning chili out of them. When local radio d.j. Stretch (Caroline Williams) accidentally records a live roadside slaughter during a call-in taping, she soon has the obsessed attention of disgruntled lawman “Lefty” Enright (Dennis Hopper, in an unusual role), who’s been out for revenge against the Sawyers since they murdered his crippled nephew in the original. Jim Seidow returns as the duplicitous “cook” Drayton, and he’s fantastically warped as the patriarchal catering business figurehead. Cult actor Bill Mosely adds extra dementia as the disgusting, scalp eating “Chop Top”–a new family member that carries around the corpse of his younger brother (remember the hitchhiker from part one? It’s HIM!) and wishes for the return of Vietnam between bickering and killing with his other fleshed-face wearing sibling.

There’s really a lot to like. Two of the creepiest scenes ever filmed are in this movie (one being the above mentioned opening vehicular attack, and the second a twisted skinning sequence), and there’s a duel involving chainsaws at the climax. Brutally gory and heavy-handed with the gallows humor, this is an underrated follow-up that acts as a fascinating counterweight to the 1974 classic.

Leatherface returns in THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSCARE PART 2.