The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 4K UHD/Blu-ray Review

Written by Robert Gold

Blu-ray released by Vinegar Syndrome

Directed by Tobe Hooper
Written by L.M. Kit Carson
1986, 101 minutes, Not Rated
4K/ Blu-ray released on October 25th, 2022

Starring:
Dennis Hopper as Lt. Lefty Enright
Caroline Williams as Stretch
Jim Siedow as Drayton Sawyer
Bill Moseley as Chop-Top
Bill Johnson as Leatherface
Lou Perryman as L.G. (credited as Lou Perry)
Ken Evert as Grandpa

Review:

Lieutenant “Lefty” Enright has led a personal crusade across the great state of Texas for more than a decade, chasing the maniacs that attacked his family. His obsession with hunting down the mysterious chainsaw clan has led others to question his judgement. When a local radio DJ named Stretch offers to help, Lefty initially refuses until he realizes that she has recorded evidence of the latest massacre on tape. Unfortunately for Stretch, the killers learn of her proof and pay a visit to the station. What follows is an unbelievably twisted nightmare of murder, mayhem, cannibalism, dueling chainsaws…and love. Yes, there is something for everyone in this outrageous sequel to one of the most notorious horror films ever made, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974).

In the mid-1980s, director Tobe Hooper (The Funhouse) struck a three-picture deal with Canon Films that would see the creation of Lifeforce (1985), Invaders from Mars (1986) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 (1986). Hooper has said many times over that he had no interest in simply rehashing the original film and takes a completely different approach that properly reflects the decade in which the movie was set and shot. The dirty hippies that were the targets of the first film have been replaced by the money-hungry yuppies that populated the 1980s. The first TCM was a dark, oppressive tale set in the scorching heat in a world where the only humor came from the excess of insanity. This time around, the comedic elements are just as black, but extend to different levels of madness. Hooper opted to stage over-the-top murder set-pieces that would drench the screen with on-screen gore that was largely absent in the original film. Also, by setting the first half of the sequel in a radio station, there is an impressive array of alternative rock music on the soundtrack that lulls the audience into a false sense of security.

Themes of the ills of consumerism and the importance of the family unit remain prevalent, but there is a darkly playful tone in this story that runs deeper than Hooper’s earlier work. Stylistically, TCM 2 couldn’t be more different from its predecessor, as it is set in a bright world filled with color and music and healthy relationships. Screenwriter L.M. Kit Carson (Paris, Texas) delivers a generous dose of satire in this pitch-black comedy that caught 1986 audiences completely off guard. One particularly nice touch finds the cannibalistic clan winning prizes and acclaim for their efforts as they repeatedly serve their victims back to the community in the form of barbeque and chili. Once introduced, the gonzo elements take the lead in a relentless manner that viewers will find either incredibly infectious or instantly detestable. There has been some audience blowback on the introduction of so much comedy, but this is not much different from the trajectory the Evil Dead franchise took.

Caroline Williams (Blood Feast, 2016) stars as Stretch, a woman completely out of her depth but determined to stop others from suffering a similar fate as the one that has befallen her. Williams is instantly likeable and displays an unbelievable ability to scream, a talent which quickly proves mandatory in the second half. Bill Moseley (The Devil’s Rejects) steals every scene he is in as the mesmerizing Chop-Top, easily the most entertaining character and with the most quotable dialogue. His performance is so completely unexpected and unhinged that it is easy to see how Moseley has gone on to enjoy a fruitful career in the industry. The real casting coup is Dennis Hopper (Mad Dog Morgan) as Lefty, a broken man possessed by demons played by someone overcoming his own at the time. Hopper takes the material seriously and plays it straight with an unflappable dedication that goes a long way in keeping audiences invested in the insanity.

Jim Siedow reprises his role of the cook from the original film; the character now receives the name Drayton Sawyer. His performance is completely flawless as the face of the family, the “sane one” if you will. Siedow is clearly having a blast in the role and is always a welcome addition every time he pops up. Bill Johnson (Future-Kill) steps into the iconic role of Leatherface and brings a sensitive charm to the character that is absent in later installments in the franchise. He shares great chemistry with both Williams and Moseley and is often a source of comic relief. Rounding out the supporting cast is Lou Perry (Poltergeist) as the hapless L.G., a good-natured country boy with a soft heart for both French fries and his attractive co-worker Stretch. Perry served as a camera assistant on the original TCM and does a very fine job here in front of the camera as the most loveable and relatively normal character in the movie.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 is not a film for everyone and continues to divide audiences to this day. There is no doubt the picture is flawed, but Tobe Hooper’s determination to have fun returning to the material that launched his career should be commended. He gives 110% and while not everything works, there is a method to his madness that holds up more than 35-years later. If you have never seen this bonkers chainsaw adventure, I highly recommend it now, as Vinegar Syndrome releases what is arguably the definitive edition in stunning 4K. I dare anyone that sits through this fun ride to not find themselves quoting any of Moseley’s hilarious dialogue long after the film is over.

Video and Audio:

For this 2022 release, Vinegar Syndrome has provided an all-new 4K scan of the original film elements and the results are noticeably brighter and cleaner than the transfer used for the MGM 2012 domestic Blu-ray release, the 2013 Arrow Films import, and the 2016 Scream Factory Collector’s Edition. The previous discs transfers were supervised and approved by cinematographer Richard Kooris. I was okay with that given the subject matter until I saw the picture clarity of this 4K makeover. Presented in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 looks terrific. Colors are strong and black levels are solid, a necessity for the shadowy tunnel sequences.

Audio arrives with the DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio preserving the original stereo mix that really gets the job done. Dialogue is always clear and easily understood and the alt-rock soundtrack is impressive. Missing from this release is the expanded DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix Scream Factory included, so completists may want to hang on to that release.

Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.

Special Features:

Disc 1:
Kicking things off are four audio commentaries, one of which has been newly recorded for this release, while the other three are available on the Scream Factory disc.

Up first is the newly recorded track featuring film critic Patrick Bromley, and he has a lot to say about this film’s production and legacy. His delivery is conversational and engaging and he even uncovers some trivia absent from the archival filmmaker commentaries.

The second commentary features cinematographer Richard Kooris, production designer Cary White, script supervisor Laura Kooris and prop master Michael Sullivan. This quartet of seasoned crew members reflect on some of the challenges they faced during production and what it was like working with Tobe Hooper. The conversation is nice but a little uneven, and would benefit from a moderator.

The next commentary offers director Tobe Hooper the opportunity to reflect on how this film came into existence and what the production was like. The discussion is fairly straightforward with a little bit of levity, as the man seems pleased with the end result.

The fourth audio commentary is more of a laid-back laugh-fest with actors Bill Moseley and Caroline Williams, joined by make-up effects artist Tom Savini. The track is moderated by Red Shirt Pictures’ Michael Felscher and he keeps things focused as the participants veer into wild tangents and bouts of laughter as the insanity plays on screen.

The featurette Beneath the Battle Land: Remembering the Lair (2022, 12 minutes) catches up with actors Caroline Williams, Barry Kinyon, Bill Johnson and Kirk Sisco, who discuss the oversized and elaborately detailed set.

The Saw and Savini (2022, 20 minutes) finds the always-welcome Tom Savini sharing his memories of the cast and crew, his design of specific effects gags, the production design and working with Tobe Hooper.

Actress Carolyn Williams is featured in the interview segment Stretch Lives! (2022, 31 minutes), opening with childhood memories before moving on to her audition for this film and her thoughts on Tobe Hooper. She reflects on blocking the ice tub scene, performing stunts, working with her co-stars, including Bill Mosley and Dennis Hopper, and she discusses some of the deleted scenes. Other topics include the convention circuit, feminist blowback, and the film’s legacy.

In Serving Tom (2022, 20 minutes), f/x artist Gabe Bartalos shares his thoughts on the initial appeal of this project and his responsibilities on set. He recalls some funny Savini stories and goes into detail on the deleted scenes, his favorite gag and sings the praises of actress Carolyn Williams’ performance.

Fellow f/x artist Barton Mixon is on hand in Texas Blood Bath (2022, 18 minutes) to discuss his responsibilities on what he admits was a tough shoot with excessive heat. He tells stories about working with his fellow artists, the most famous deleted scene, memorable gags, filming in Texas and his reaction to the finished film.

Leatherface Revisited (2022, 37 minutes) finds actor Bill Johnson remembering his audition and his impression of director Hooper. He goes on to discuss his thoughts on the character, filming the dinner scene, working with his stunt double and shooting the ice tub scene. Other topics include Hopper memories, the filming locations, the heat, sick time, stories about his co-stars and the film’s legacy

The actor Kirk Sisco sits for the featurette Remember the Alamo (2022, 14 minutes) and begins by acknowledging the bizarre tone of the picture. He is only in one early scene opposite Dennis Hopper but has plenty of stories about the material and his iconic co-star. He shares some fun anecdotes about the scene and says the whole thing was a good experience. He talks about his visit to the oversized Lair set and his impression of Williams. He concludes with the somber recounting of actor Lou Perryman’s murder and his reaction to seeing the end product.

Die Yuppie Scum (2022, 13 minutes) catches up with Barry Kinyon, who says this was his first audition and the project was a huge learning experience. He talks about his director and co-star and shooting his death scene. He has some nice production stories involving Hooper and Hopper and looks back on the experience fondly.

Disc 2:
Outtakes from Électric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films (2014, 40 minutes) features extended interviews with Tobe Hooper and co-producer Cynthia Hargrave,

It Runs in the Family (2006, 82 minutes) is a terrific documentary by Red Shirt Pictures’ Michael Felscher. Presented in six parts, the feature-length retrospective covers many key elements of the production, starting with L.M. Kit Carson’s screenplay. The writer discusses his history with director Tobe Hooper and how they wanted to change the general tone for this sequel. From there we move on to interviews with key members of the production design team, followed by cast members Bill Moseley, Caroline Williams, Lou Perry and Bill Johnson. Make-up Effects artist Tom Savini details some of the work that went into the gory murder set-pieces. Tobe Hooper is noticeably absent from this project, but there is some archival footage of him at work on set. The documentary comes close to delivering the ultimate retrospective on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2, but falls short of the gold ring without Hooper. The film is very entertaining and highly informative and definitely worth checking out, as it is likely the most thorough piece we are likely to receive.

In the decade since the fantastic It Runs in the Family documentary debuted on the 20th anniversary DVD release, a few participants have passed away. A pair of Extended Interviews (2006, 30 minutes), featuring writer L.M. Kit Carson and actor Lou Perryman, are presented in tribute to these gentlemen.

Tom Savini is a legend in the industry, but his effects crew seldom gets to enjoy the spotlight. House of Pain (2016, 43 minutes) goes a long way to correct this oversight by getting some of the key artists involved to sit down and share their memories of working on this crazy film. John Vulich, Bart Mixon, Gabe Bartalos and Gino Crognale discuss their specific contributions and enthusiastically credit the work of their teammates. Savini has been interviewed countless times in the past, but his absence here is a little unfortunate, as it would be nice to hear him join in the fun of the memories.

Model-turned-actor Barry Kinyon (Buzz) and actor-turned-music producer Chris Douridas (Rick the Prick) sit down to reflect on the time they played chicken with the wrong farmer in Yuppie Meat (2016, 19 minutes). Their stories are about what you would expect, but it is nice to see them and hear their account of the production. The segment runs a little long and is paired with some smooth lounge music that is occasionally distracting.

Editor Alain Jakubowicz (Eskimo Limon) discusses his career working on comedies before crossing paths with Tobe Hooper on Invaders from Mars and how his sense of timing applied to the tone of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 in the informative featurette Cutting Moments (2016, 17 minutes).

Many times a stunt double is asked to do a bit more performing in front of the camera but does not always receive credit for his or her efforts. This appears to be the case with Bob Elmore, who reveals just how much time he spent on camera as the iconic villain in Behind the Mask (2016,14 minutes). Actor Bill Johnson was cast in the role of Leatherface but proved unable to carry the hefty weight of the chainsaw, so Elmore’s screen time increased almost daily. The stunt man is not bitter about the experience but does not look back on the production very fondly.

Sean Clark’s Horror’s Hallowed Grounds (2016, 25 minutes) revisits what is left of the film’s original shooting locations. Much has changed in thirty years and there is not a lot to be seen with the exceptions of the bridge from the opening slaughter and the shop where Lefty buys chainsaws being the most recognizable. Clark does his best to keep things entertaining and even brings in a special guest to confirm some of the sites.

The segment Still Feelin’ the Buzz (2022, 28 minutes) with Stephen Thrower offers a history of violence thru war references and also addresses the tone of sequel, the themes and carryovers from the original. He also shares his thoughts on the cast, the character, editing and the film score. In conclusion we hear his views on things in the script that work or do not.

Tom Savini has generously provided a trove of behind-the-scenes footage (44 minutes) that was shot on set in 1986, offering a fly-on-the-wall perspective of the daily efforts of cast and crew. Highlights include seeing Tobe Hooper at work, plus a look at the gruesome special-effects show pieces and interviews with actors in make-up.

An alternate opening credit sequence (2 minutes) presents a slowly rising moon over the familiar red titles, but featuring different theme music.

A collection of deleted scenes (11 minutes) offers a peek at some additional mayhem, including the infamous “Die Yuppie Scum” parking garage slaughter and the Job Bob Briggs cameo as “The Gonzo Moviegoer”. Sadly, none of the material exploring the bond between Lefty and Stretch is included.

A pair of theatrical trailers for the US and Japanese releases are fairly identical until the closing text appears in the respective languages.

A half-dozen TV ads plus an additional Japanese promo spot are also included as a look at the marketing campaign.

A photo gallery slideshow (3 minutes) features a diverse look behind the scenes with production stills and promotional images.

Grades:

Movie: Cover
Cover
Video:
Audio:
Features:
Overall: 5 Star Rating

 

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Robert Gold
Staff Reviewer
Robert's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
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