The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review
Written by ZigZag
Blu-ray released by Scream Factory
Directed by Tobe Hooper
Written by L.M. Kit Carson
1986, 101 minutes, Not Rated
Blu-ray released on April 19th, 2016
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 Perry as L.G.
Ken Evert as Grandpa
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 The dirty hippies that were the targets of the first film have been replaced by the money-hungry yuppies that populated the 1980s.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 (The Stepfather II) 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 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 as the film celebrates its 30th anniversary. If you have never seen this bonkers chainsaw adventure, I highly recommend it now, as Scream Factory releases what is arguably the definitive edition on a deluxe 2-disc Blu-ray Collector’s Edition. 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 2016 release, Scream Factory has provided an all new 2K scan of the original film elements and the results are noticeably brighter and cleaner than the transfer used in both the MGM 2012 domestic Blu-ray release and the 2013 Arrow Films import. The previous discs appeared a bit dark and murky, but 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 collector’s edition. Presented in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, TCM 2 looks terrific. Colors are strong and black levels are solid, a necessity for the shadowy tunnel sequences.
Also on hand is the DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio from the previous Blu-ray releases, and it does a fine job, but audiences will be happy to hear the all-new DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix that Scream Factory has included for this edition. The expanded soundtrack is a welcome treat that plays across the room during the numerous chase scenes throughout the picture.
Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.
Scream Factory’s Collector’s Edition release spreads a generous number of supplements (new and old) across two Blu-ray discs that offer something for everyone to enjoy.
Kicking things off are a trio of audio commentaries, one of which has been newly recorded for this release, while the other two were previously available on the MGM release.
Up first is the newly recorded track featuring 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 straight forward with a little bit of levity as the man seems pleased with the end result.
The third 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.
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 (30 minutes) featuring writer L.M. Kit Carson and actor Lou Perryman are presented in tribute to these gentlemen.
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.
There are several galleries of production stills divided into six subcategories: Black & White stills (60 images), Behind the Scenes (127 images), the Personal Collection of Jason Guy (24 images), Color stills (24 images), posters and lobby cards (51 images) and a special effects gallery (27 images). All of these are self-explanatory except the Jason Guy collection that focuses on the “Nubbins” character prop.
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.
Knowing that inevitably people will complain about their efforts, Scream Factory appears to have hedged their bets by including something old and something new. Disc 1 presents the film with the new 2K remaster while Disc 2 offers the movie again with the previous 2012 MGM transfer (with color correction supervised by cinematographer Richard Kooris). Fans can enjoy the look they are familiar with and rejoice that they can benefit from either the original DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio or the new 2016 DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix.
It Runs in the Family (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 TCM 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.
This new Collector’s Edition Blu-ray allows Felscher and company to fill in some of the gaps from their previous documentary with a series of new interviews from assorted members of the cast and crew. Sadly, director Tobe Hooper remains absent from the supplements on this release.
Tom Savini is a legend in the industry, but his effects crew seldom gets to enjoy the spotlight. House of Pain (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.
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 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 (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.
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 TCM2 in the informative featurette Cutting Moments (17 minutes).
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 (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.
Sean Clark’s Horror’s Hallowed Grounds (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.
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