The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
BD - Image A Sound B+ Extras A
DVD - Image B+ Sound B- Extras B
starring Dennis Hopper, Caroline Williams, Jim Siedow, Bill Moseley
screenplay by L.M. Kit Carson
directed by Tobe Hooper
by Walter Chaw If the first film is about living with malevolent ghosts--the sins of the father made flesh and leather, if you will--then the second is a cunning piece about the Reagan '80s: the fantasia, the nostalgia, the delusions of grandeur, the inflationary monomania, and, finally, the decay of actual values in a society believing itself to be the illusory City on the Hill. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is also a highly sexualized film, the American Psycho of its day, mixing sex with money until the two are indistinguishable from the great gouts of blood, bluster, and designer suits used in their acquisition. The picture's smart enough to be a commentary on its time while its time is still unspooling. Undeniably, there's something bankrupt about the morality of this story told in this context--the rise of corporations in the McDecade skewered as the monster Sawyer clan of the original launches a successful man-meat chili business with affable, no-longer-reluctant Cook (Jim Siedow) as its clown pitchman. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 can be read as every bit the product of its era as the following year's Wall Street and Predator--a science-fiction of regression and animalism that is not entirely unlike its star Dennis Hopper's Blue Velvet, also from 1986. It feels like the twelve years separating source and sequel (just like the ten that separate the first two George Romero "Dead" movies) mark director Tobe Hooper as a sharp sociologist when painting with this very specific brush, evolving the tumor of the Vietnam War manifested as a pair of lumpen bogeys on a young girl's back into this florid bloodbath erected on those conservative tent poles of mass media, mass consumerism, and misguided phallic projection. No accident, either, one supposes, that its central avenging angel is a dim-witted, swaggering cowboy figure, ambling in from the 1950s to win fights we've already lost.