Director: Tobe Hooper (1986)
Starring: Dennis Hopper, Caroline Williams, Bill Moseley, Jim Sideow
Find it online: IMDB
Rest in peace Dennis Hopper. The man will probably best be known for his role in the classic Easy Rider, or as Blue Velvet's terrifying villain of the piece. Me, I'll always remember him as Leiutenant Lefty Enright in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.
How does one follow up a classic horror movie such as the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Well in the case of this sequel, Tobe Hooper just goes balls-to-the wall crazy. You might remember that his original piece contained surprisingly little amounts of the red stuff. Hey, it worked. This time around, Hooper goes down the complete opposite route and pours lashings of the red, red vino everywhere. And because why not, phallic chainsaws and Bill Moseley eating bits of his own scalp.
That's all fine and dandy, but the movie's real top trump card is Dennis Hopper. As Enright, he actually manages to be scarier, crazier and more scary than any of the nasties. Moseley does fine as crazed 'Nam veteran ChopTop, but is a little too cartoonish to be scary. It's actually a performance that borders on annoying. Likewise, Jim Siedow plays things a little too screechy. Caroline Williams' DJ character is ostensibly the main character, but suffers from massive overshadowing under the Hopper. Every moment he's onscreen is an incredible one. And when he's not onscreen, you'll be wishing he was. His scenes in the chainsaw shop are amongst my favourite in the history of horror cinema.
Inevitably, the final showdown is something of a disappointment. It doesn't last nearly long enough, for one. But any movie with the balls to have Dennis Hopper and Leatherface duelling with chainsaws gets very infinite respect from me. Like the third movie in the franchise, TCM2 is a very much maligned movie. Much of that owes to its being a sequel to something genre defining and almost perfect. No sequel ever could live up to Hooper's original Chainsaw Massacre. But this is a movie that gives it a bloody good shot. It's admirable just how much deviation there is from the original's course. It's not even set in the same part of Texas. And the decision to do away with stoned teenagers in favour of Dennis fucking Hopper is a genius one.
Not only is The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 my second favourite TCM movie so far, it also remains one of my favourite horror flicks of all time. It has the lot: chainsaws, gore, a great villain and an equally insane 'heroic' performance from the one and only Dennis Hopper. Ride Easy, Mister Hopper. You will be missed.