A good horror film has a title that sets up the frights before the cinema lights come down. My Bloody Valentine, Night of the Living Dead and Nightmare on Elm Street are a few that scared eyes from the marquee. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was a title that didn’t just scare, it told a horrific story in 4 words. The better news was that the movie that appeared on the screen completely lived up to the title. Director Tobe Hooper ruled the drive-ins as Leatherface with his chainsaw was the star of 1974. After the bitter success of Poltergeist, Hooper found himself getting a three picture deal with Cannon films. The first two projects were an adaptation (Lifeforce) and a remake (Invaders From Mars). The third was the most anticipated of the package: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2. Hooper was putting the band back together for another gruesome buzz-fest.
Things have changed a bit in Texas over the decade. Instead of a VW Microbus full of kids, the road is terrorized by two yuppies shooting guns, drinking beer and playing chicken in their posh car. They call in DJ Vanita “Stretch” Brock (Caroline Williams) show to spread their douchebaggery over the air? Will anyone stop them? Turns out someone will stop them when they meet a mysterious truck on a bridge. Before they make it across to safety, they have to deal with a strange dancing corpse that’s waving a chainsaw. The boys don’t make their football game. Their demise is caught live over the air by Stretch. The crime scene brings in Lieutenant Boude “Lefty” Enright (Dennis Hopper) of the Texas Rangers. He lost relatives in the original movie to Leatherface’s chainsaw. He wants to fight fire with fire and loads up on chainsaws. Stretch unwittingly gets close to killers when one of the Sawyer family (Jim Siedow from original movie) wins the local chili cookoff with his special meat. She has no idea it might be last night’s callers. Later Enright shows up at her radio station wanting her to play the killing audio over and over again to bring out the chainsaw murderers. This plan backfires when the Sawyers show up to put in a live request and Enright isn’t around. Chop Top (Bill Moseley) sets her up for Leatherface’s big arrival. Enright tracks down the Sawyer’s to a semi-abandoned historical recreation park. He has to free Stretch before she become Leatherface’s jerky bride or Grandpa’s dinner.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 wasn’t a massive hit as it should have been. Some may blame the humor and the vivid grotesque effects. The scene with Grandpa and the hammer is both hilarious and stomach churning. The same can be true when Leatherface romances the DJ. Receiving an X-rating from the MPAA hurt box office. Thankfully it came out in the VHS era so it was a constant rental. Dennis Hopper brings the film into proper perspective with his lawman with a chainsaw attack. Hopper’s career went into overdrive in 1986 with this, Blue Velvet, River’s Edge and his Oscar nominated performance in Hoosiers. There’s so much to enjoy in the bloody remains of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2. The massive amount of bonus features brings out every element and personality in the film. Like a fine piece of aged beef, the movie is still worth devouring after 30 years.
The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The 1080p transfer brings out the bones used to create the Sawyer family hideout. Along with a new transfer from the interpositive film elements, there’s also MGM’s Original HD Master With Color Correction Supervision By Director Of Photography Richard Kooris. The audio is 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio mix. You’ll get a little more chainsaw buzz in the 5.1 mix. The movie is subtitled in English.
Three Audio Commentary Tracks allow viewers to explore all the aspects of the film. Director Tobe Hooper talks from 2006 about how the film was on a short turn around. He has found memories of dealing with Golan and Globus. Another track features Director Of Photography Richard Kooris, Production Designer Cary White, Script Supervisor Laura Kooris and Property Master Michael Sullivan. The third track gives us actors Bill Moseley, Caroline Williams And Special Effects Makeup Creator Tom Savini. Always fun to listen to Savini.
Extended Outtakes From It Runs In The Family (29:37) has more bits from L.M. Kit Carson And Lou Perryman since both men have passed away. Carson shares how Dennis Hopper would spend his mornings playing golf will Willie Nelson.
Behind-The-Scenes Footage Compilation From Tom Savini’s Archives (43:35) is video from the production. We get to see Hooper calling the shots.
Alternate Opening Credit Sequence (1:56) makes this look like a Tales From the Dark Side episode with creepy synth music over a moon shot. It’s really lame and a good call for axing.
Deleted Scenes (10:57) is taken off old video masters so they’re rather rough. The big missing scene is when the Sawyers find a bunch of drunk college preppies that are ready for the meat wagon. It was eliminated early in the post process since they don’t even have the audio effect for the chainsaw. They also find Joe Bob Briggs’ cameo which lead to his massive role in Casino.
Still Galleries includes hundreds of images from posters, lobby cards, Behind-The-Scenes Photos, Stills And Collector’s Gallery. There’s even international release promo material.
Theatrical Trailers (2:04) promises no on under 17 would be allowed to see the return of Leatherface. “The Buzz Is Back” was catch phrase.
TV Spots (3:02) sells the chainsaw without any of the gore.
House Of Pain (42:32) mixes interviews with makeup effects artists Bart Mixon, Gabe Bartalos, Gino Crognale and John Vulich. They did deep into how they gored up the world of Leatherface for an ’80s audience. All were inspired by the original.
Yuppie Meat (18:59) reunites actors Chris Douridas and Barry Kinyon as they recount their amazing opening and ending in the film.
Cutting Moments (17:19) discusses the fine art of splicing a chainsaw attack with editor Alain Jakubowicz. He’s still proud of the film.
Behind The Mask (13:48) discusses with stunt Man and Leatherface performer Bob Elmore about taking over an iconic role. There’s more to the character than just running around with a chainsaw.
Horror’s Hallowed Grounds (24:33) lets Sean Clark seek out the original filming locations. He’s willing to poke around all parts of Austin, Texas. He exposes all the movie magic including the old “long” bridge trick.
It Runs In The Family (81:41) is a feature-length documentary which opens up with L.M. Kit Carson explaining how he met Tobe and it led to the collaborating on projects. After Carson got fame as the writer of Paris, Texas, he took on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2. There’s also time with actors Bill Moseley, Caroline Williams, Bill Johnson, Lou Perryman, special makeup effects artist Tom Savini and more.
Scream Factory presents The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Collector’s Edition. Directed by Tobe Hooper. Script by: L. M. Kit Carson. Starring: Dennis Hopper, Caroline Williams, Bill Johnson, Bill Moseley and Jim Siedow. Rated: Unrated. Running Time: 101 minutes. Released: April 19, 2016.
Joe Corey is the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.