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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2

Creating a sequel to a film that is considered to be an all time classic can be a daunting task, usually because you do not have the same creative team involved and the essence of the film is lost. Though not seen as such upon its initial release, Tobe Hooper’s (EATEN ALIVE (1976), POLTERGEIST (1982), THE MANGLER (1995)) THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE PART 2 is now viewed as a cult classic and the measuring stick to what a black comedy/horror hybrid sequel should be. Though Hooper had only originally intended to be the writer and producer, he eventually directed the film as well because all though the film had a higher budget than the original, he could not afford to bring another director in. The film blends quite well with the original and picks up 13 years later: “Chainsaw-wielding maniac Leatherface is up to his cannibalistic ways once again, along with the rest of his twisted clan, including the equally disturbed Chop-Top. This time, the masked killer has set his sights on pretty disc jockey Vanita “Stretch” Brock, who teams up with Texas lawman Lefty Enrigh to battle the psychopath and his family deep within their lair, a macabre abandoned amusement park.” Cannon Films was expecting more of a horror film while Hooper insisted on playing up the elements of black comedy (as he felt that viewers overlooked that element in the original). While the film grossed almost double ($8 million in the U.S.) its budget ($4.7 million), Cannon was not happy with Hooper’s original vision of the release…

While many fans of the original blasted the film for its use of over the top gore, black comedy and a higher budget, these are the very things that make this film stand apart from some of the dreadful sequels that followed it in the series. In fact, even if you take the remake and the prequel into account, PART 2 even fits into the continuity of those films as well. While the argument can be made that the original film was more effective because it made use of psychological horror and was essentially a bloodless film, many people failed to realize that PART 2 was Hooper’s way of speaking about the excesses of the 80’s and kept it in line with the bloodier studio releases of the time. Speaking of the FX work, Tom Savini is on record as saying that the male-up for the character of Grandpa is his most proud accomplishment, and looking at the scope of films that he has done in the genre, that is saying something. Considering that the film was released without a rating and suffered considerable censorship overseas, the film has reached a cult-classic status that has since endeared it to horror fans everywhere. You can also tell that Hooper did his background research as it came to the locations as well, even mentioning the Red River Rivalry (which is a huge football rivalry between the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas. The film takes place during OU vs. Texas weekend.)…

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With such efforts made to bring the black comedy elements to the film, Hooper was brilliant in selecting his cast and crew to bring the characters and the film to life. Jim Siedow (THE WINDSPLITTER (1971), THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974), AMAZING STORIES (TV Series , 1987)), is the only returning character from the original film and helps to root everything to the mythos of the series, and with the amazing talent of Dennis Hopper (BLOODBATH (1979), FIRESTARTER 2: REKINDLED (2002), LAND OF THE DEAD (2005)), Caroline Williams (STEPFATHER 2 (1989), HALLOWEEN II (2009), BLOOD FEAST (2016)), Bill Johnson (FUTURE-KILL (1985), BUTCHER BOYS (2012), THE CARETAKERS (2014)) and Bill Moseley (SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 3: BETTER WATCH OUT! (1989), HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES (2003), REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA (2008)) working together, the right blend of manic behavior with the family and the psychological terror that Lefty and Stretch are subjected to rises to the level that we have come to expect from our horror films. There is even a appearance by film critic Joe Bob Briggs that was filmed but that was eventually cut from the film!

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In an interview conducted by Icons of Fright (08/07), Bill Johnson discusses his working relationship with Bill Moseley: “Thank you, it was a lot of fun playing together with that fine cast and especially, Bill Moseley. I felt we had a simpatico right away. Bill was fun and easy to be around, we always found something engaging to talk about, we played a whole lot of gin rummy in the air-conditioning in our dressing room (see photo) away from the 100 + degree Texas broiling summer heat while waiting to be called to the set. As you know, generally speaking, the percentage of time an actor spends in film acting is about 90+% of it waiting to do it. We made up a lot of stuff about the special world of the film, waiting in the air conditioning, playing cards, listening to music and making up lyrics. Creating a family tree and family history, the typical Sawyer Family daily life. We got into each others modus operandi, got into a groove and just went for having a lot of fun. So when we got on the live film set we were already into the daily chainsaw family life scintillating to the rhythms of our Chainsaw daily world and had a lot of non- verbal communication happening; bringing out a texture, depth and complexity we otherwise would not have had.” *1

In an interview on Den of Geek (11/11/13) conducted by Ryan Lambie, actress Caroline Williams discusses working with Dennis Hopper: “As I learned from my interactions with him, because we socialized a little bit off campus, he wasn’t a terribly gregarious or social guy. At the time, he’d been sober for about 18 months, and I think he was trying very hard to change the programs and play mates. I think he wanted to be in a social group that wasn’t drag him into the abyss that he’d emerged from. And also, the character of Rusty was a very isolated man, and I think he was living that out a little bit.

The thing that was wonderful about Dennis was that he was incredibly cultured and educated and well read. He had a real, genuine artist’s sensibility. He loved art and sculpture and painting, and had begun his modern art collection when he was in his late teens and early 20s. When he first started, I think, he began buying art. I don’t know if his collection’s been dispersed by his heirs, but for the longest time, his art collection was on loan to various prestige galleries around the world.” *2

“He also had a great musical taste, and he knew Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis, and many prestigious jazz and new-wave fusion musicians, so he was very in front of the curve on that stuff. He didn’t socialize a lot with any of us on the set, but I took him out one evening on Sixth Street in Austin, which is well known for its music venues. There was a terrific saxophone player named Kirk Whalum who I thought he’d find interesting. When I asked him, “Hey, do you want to go see this musician with me?” He was, all “I know Thelonious Monk, I know Miles Davis. You’re not going to impress me.” But he was on his feet the whole night long, so that was one of the finer moments I got to have with Dennis.” *2

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FUN FACT #1: Director Tobe Hooper and co-writer of the original THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974) Kim Henkel originally had an idea for a sequel that would feature an entire town of cannibals, and also be a satire of the film MOTEL HELL (1980), which itself was a satire of the original TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. The title of that sequel was to be BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, but the studio forced considerable changes to be made to the screenplay, even hiring a new screenwriter, and the result of those changes are what became TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE PART 2. *3

FUN FACT #2: Hoyts Distribution, who had distributed 90 percent of Cannon’s titles in Australia, submitted this film for classification in 1986. The film was deemed highly offensive by the classification board and refused a rating – effectively banning the film. Hoyts considered cutting the film, but the scenes and elements that offended the board were so many that it was decided to not release the picture all together. The ban stayed in effect until MGM resubmitted the film some twenty years later and “THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE PART 2” was finally released. *3

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“Because I am the Dedman, and you are not!” Michael “Dedman” Jones

1. Bill Johnson interview – Leatherface (“Bubba”) from THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE PART 2

2. Caroline Williams: Texas Chainsaw 2, Days Of Thunder

3. IMDB PAGE

One more fun fact from our leader Tom Holland. Of all the films Tobe Hooper has made, TCM2 is his personal favorite.

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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2

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