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Director: Tobe Hooper
Cast: Dennis Hopper, Caroline Williams, Jim Siedow, Bill Moseley
Length: 101 min
Rating: BBFC: 18
Disks: 3 (2 BD, 1 DVD)
Label: Arrow Films
Release Date: 11 November 2013
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English: 2.0 Stereo PCM
Subtitles: English SDH
3-DISC LIMITED EDITION SET FEATURES:
- Limited Edition Packaging, newly illustrated by Justin Erickson
- Individually Numbered #/10,000 Certificate
DISC 1 – THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2
- Audio commentary with director and co-writer Tobe Hooper, moderated by David Gregory
- Audio commentary with stars Bill Moseley, Caroline Williams and special-effects legend Tom Savini, moderated by Michael Felsher
- “It Runs in the Family” – A documentary looking at the genesis, making-of and enduring appeal of Hooper’s film. With interviews including star Bill Johnson, co-writer L. M. Kit Carson, Richard Kooris, Bill Moseley, Caroline Williams, Tom Savini, Production Designer Cary White and more.
- Alternate Opening sequence with different musical score
- Deleted scenes
- “Still Feelin’ the Buzz” – Interview with horror expert Stephen Thrower, author of Nightmare USA
- Cutting Moment with bob Elmore – Interview with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2′s stuntman
- Gallery featuring never-before-published behind-the-scenes images
- Original Trailer
DISC 2 [BLU-RAY] & DISC 3 [DVD] – TOBE HOOPER’S EARLY WORKS – LIMITED EDITION
- The Heisters (1964) Tobe Hooper’s early short film restored in HD from original elements [10 mins]
- Eggshells (1969) Tobe Hooper’s debut feature restored in HD from original elements [90 mins]
- Audio Commentary on Eggshells by Tobe Hooper
- In Conversation with Tobe Hooper – The legendary horror director speaks about his career from Eggshells to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
- Trailer reel of all the major works by Tobe Hooper
100-PAGE BOOK – AMERICAN FREAK ILLUMINATIONS – LIMITED EDITION
- Perfect bound book covering everything you wanted to know about Tobe Hooper, chainsaws and more. Featuring new writing on the director’s early works by Brad Stevens, an investigation of Tobe Hooper’s three-picture Cannon deal by Calum Waddell, new writing on The Texas Chainsaw 2 by Kenneth Muir, a look at the film’s long battle with the BBFC and an exclusive interview with Hooper by Stefan Jaworzyn, author of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Companion, rounded off with an appraisal of the highs and lows of the Texas Chainsaw franchise by Joel Harley, all illustrated with archive stills.
Though often maligned or neglected alongside Tobe Hooper’s masterpiece The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), his sequel, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) has managed to rise to cult status due to its emphasis on black humor, gore, and some truly over the top performances. UK label Arrow has recently outdone themselves with a special edition Blu-ray release of TCM2 that spans three discs, includes more special features than any previous release, and even boasts two of Hooper’s early films among other exclusive items.
Picking up several years after the events of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Lieutenant Lefty Enright (Dennis Hopper) is on the trail of Leatherface (Bill Johnson) and the rest of the Sawyer family for killing his niece and nephew years earlier. He has tracked them to a small town in Texas, where they have come across the path of a local DJ, known as Stretch (Caroline Williams). She accidentally records them killing two college boys that called into her station and turns the tape over to Lefty. He encourages her to play it in on the air, but this attracts the attention of Leatherface and his brother Chop Top (Bill Moseley), who come to pay their respects. Stretch convinces Leatherface to spare her life, but they kidnap her coworker (Lou Perryman) after badly beating him. She follows them to their home, an abandoned carnival above ground and a cavernous, maze-like horror-show below ground. Lefty shows up with a few chainsaws to save Stretch’s skin and get revenge.I might be the only person to feel this way, but I’ve always thought TCM2 was a more entertaining, enjoyable film than its predecessor, if only for the fact that we don’t have to endure Marilyn Burns screaming for an hour straight. After the hugely influential, deadly serious original, TCM2 goes in the perfect and opposite direction. Instead of trying to recreate the same relentless atmosphere, Hooper, who thankfully returned to direct, crafted a pitch black comedy full of weirdness, gore that includes graphically skinning someone alive, and a vibrant sense of style. Tom Savini is responsible for the plentiful gore, which might be too intense for more sensitive viewers.
This was Hooper’s last film with the infamous Cannon Films, who also released his Lifeforce (1985) and Invaders from Mars (1986). He worked with screenwriter L.M. Kit Carson (Paris, Texas), who developed some rounded out, albeit cartoonish characters and some very funny dialogue. Basically absent from the first film, the dialogue here boasts such amazing lines as “You have one choice, boy. Sex or the saw. Sex is—well—nobody knows. The saw is family.”Dennis Hopper and Bill Moseley steal the film with a pair of performances that must be seen to be believed, particularly the late, great Hopper’s. There are enthusiastic, entertaining performances from all the actors, particularly the wonderful Jim Siedow, who reprises his role from the original film. Caroline Williams (Halloween II, Days of Thunder) is sassy and likable as Stretch. The script frequently uses her to poke fun at certain horror tropes, such as the sexualization of the “Final Girl.” The ending, which mocks Leatherface’s rage-dance from the first film, is really something to behold.
With an emphasis on the whimsical and satirical, enjoyment of TCM2 is predicated on the ability to not expect a repeat of the serious TCM. Here anything goes. There are plenty of weird, simulated sex scenes involving chainsaws and the set builds upon the concept of a gore and bone-filled Sawyer house from the first film. The remaining Sawyers have a whole fun-land to themselves, an adult playground above ground and a charnel house below, packed with dead animals, bone sculpture, corpses in the walls, and stretched, torn skin seemingly everywhere. Also going the opposite direction of the first film, there’s a rockin’ soundtrack that features The Cramps, Lords of the New Church, Roky Erickson, Concrete Blonde, Oingo Boingo, and more. Hooper cleverly ties the soundtrack into the film by way of Stretch and several of the early scenes take place at her DJ station.
Restored and transferred in 1080p high definition in Burbank, California, TCM2 is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The transfer was supervised by Richard Kooris, Director of Photography, and additional work was done in London by Arrow. The results are predictably definitive and TCM2 looks crisp and clean, with well defined detail and contrast. The colors—of particular importance in such a bold, lively film—pop and are well balanced. There is no evident damage or debris. Best of all, there is no sign of artificial edge sharpening, or grain removal.
The English LPCM 2.0 track with optional English subtitles is on par with the video quality. Dialogue is clear and well-mixed against the memorable soundtrack and the frequent sounds of chainsaw revving are static-free and well defined. There is no audio distortion or damage of any kind.
I cannot adequately express how amazing this set is, needless to say that it is three discs worth of TCM2 delightfulness with exclusive extras. Disc one includes the film and two commentary tracks, the first from Tobe Hooper and a second with Bill Moseley, Caroline Williams, and Tom Savini. There is also an informative documentary, “It Runs in the Family,” about the making of TCM2, an alternate opening sequence, deleted scenes, a gallery with newly unveiled behind-the-scenes images, and a trailer. If you thought that was a lot, there’s also an interview with film writer Stephen Thrower (Nightmare USA, Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci) and another with Bob Elmore, stuntman on Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.Discs two and three contain restored versions of two of Tobe Hooper’s early films never before available on home video. First is The Heisters (1964), a ten minute short, followed by Eggshells (1969), Hooper’s first feature film. The latter includes audio commentary from Hooper, as well as “In Conversations with Tobe Hooper,” a lengthy interview about his early films up to TCM2. Also included is a trailer reel of all his major films and a 100 page booklet with some very extensive information about Hooper and his films. Included is new artwork from Justin Erickson and an individually numbered certificate (out of 10,000).
I cannot recommend Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 highly enough and any fans of ‘80s horror will find a lot to love here. It has long been one of my favorite films and has had a nice revival in recent years, culminating in this excellent Arrow release. The film was banned in certain countries upon release or heavily censored due to the graphic violence and creative use of human skins, but here it is fully uncut. Arrow should receive a round of internet applause for what is one of their crowning achievements in 2013, which is really saying something. Keep in mind that this is a region B release and a region free player will be necessary for U.S. fans to revel in its delights.