The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

Viewed – 13 January 2018  Blu-ray

I’ve always been a casual fan of director Tobe Hooper’s notorious 1974 vision of terror… it’s a very raw and unrelenting experience that certainly leaves a mark.  This 1986 follow up, further more unavailable for years in the UK reunites us with the cannibalistic Sawyer family as a Texas Marshall (Dennis Hopper) tries to track them down, thirsty it seems for revenge.  Meanwhile a plucky radio DJ becomes embroiled in the hunt.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

There’s certainly a more tongue-in-cheek tone to this and it only marginally works.  It gives an already crazy concept an even nuttier vibe which came off for me more annoying than scary or disturbing.  The Sawyer family this time around are given a little more character, thanks mostly to Bill Moseley’s deranged ‘chop-top’ and we also see a side to Leatherface I wasn’t expecting.  Add to this a volatile, unhinged turn from Hopper who’s character is rather cartoonish but still entertaining.  The big let down acting wise is Caroline Williams as radio DJ ‘Stretch’ Initially she seems interesting, spunky and a good heroine … but then becomes scream-queen and oh boy, was she annoying!  I’ve watched my fair share of scream queens and this one, was so over the top I was quickly hoping the Sawyer family would just end her. 

Gore hounds are only slightly catered for, despite the presence of effects artist Tom Savini… so we get a skinned face and some chainsaw meets guts stuff, but not much else.  Overall the movie isn’t as visceral or effectively disturbing as either the original or the remake … but as a frantic, crazy ride this still entertained.  Considering this sequel’s reputation though, I was expecting … more.

The Blu-ray from Arrow Video boasts a detailed, clean and vibrant picture and even though the soundtrack is only the original 2.0 stereo it’s sharp and very effective.  The disk itself is packed with extras, with ‘It Runs At Night’ a six part documentary, and we also get several interviews with cast, crew and horror critics.  Add to this two commentaries (one with director Tobe Hooper and another with Caroline Williams, Bill Moseley and Tom Savini) making this deluxe treatment for what is otherwise a fun if forgettable entry in the franchise.


(the movie)  3 /5

(the Blu-ray)  5 /5

Good Movie Remakes

Generally movie remakes have a bad name despite Hollywood’s insistence on making them.  However in my experience there are a few that while not always improving on the original, at least do a good enough job to be worth seeing, without insulting the memory of a classic.  Find below a few I personally have enjoyed.

Little Shop Of Horrors


Although not familiar with the Roger Corman original, this Steve Martin, Rick Moranis, John Candy starring musical is a riot … very memorable tunes and great practical effects.  I really need to watch this again… soon!

Evil Dead


Was really expecting this to just not get what made the original so good – but it ramped up the gore and violence to epic proportions, had a great cast and was scary … maybe not as tongue-in-cheek as the series is famous for, but still felt like an Evil Dead movie.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre


Am I alone in thinking this version rocks?  Tons of gore (which the original lacked, even though I know that wasn’t the entire point) a perfectly mad performance by R. Lee Ermey and a twenty something bunch of ‘victims’ you don’t immediately hate.

Miracle On 34th Street


Charming with a great performance by Richard Attenborough.  A star making turn by the where is she now Mara Wilson (see also Mathilda).  Haven’t seen original but this was a perfect Christmas treat.



Am I cheating by including this?  A deserved genre classic with a (possible) career best from both Pacino and DeNiro, and yes it’s a remake of TV movie L.A. Takedown.

The Assassin (aka Point of No Return)


Perhaps sacrilege to remake Luc Besson’s La Femme Nikita, and another I think I’m alone in loving.  I had a major crush on Bridget Fonda in this… but its a competent thriller with several decent performances, including a cameo by Harvey Keitel that’s worth seeing!

Piranha 3D


Breasts and naked skinny-dipping porn stars aside, this has gore by the bucket and a fast energetic pace that makes for one of the most fun horror movies in a long while.  Director Alexandre Aja cements his reputation as the go to guy for horror remakes!  (see also: The Hills Have Eyes).



Easy one this.  Not seen the original but with a powerhouse performance by Al Pacino and that line ‘say hello to my little fiend’ this took a basic blue print and seriously went to town with it!

The Thing


This shouldn’t have worked, but with a strong lead by the mouth-watering Mary Elizabeth Winstead  and half decent and freaky CGI, as well as all the atmosphere the original had (ok this is technically a prequel…but it still counts…I think), this really surprised me.

I am starting to think that although they get the worst press, horror remakes have got it right a fair few times going by the list above.  That’s just my opinion though and you may differ.  So what would your choices be?

The problem with remakes

Not all horror remakes are bad, and some can bring a lot to an old concept, ultimately improving upon it … yet last night I sat down and watched on television the remake of Japanese cult horror The Ring.  Ok, it starred Naomi Watts, had a decent director (Gore Verbinski) and was fairly well put together on a technical basis.  Much like the original too, the use of a creepy videotape and hallucinations helped build an unnerving atmosphere.  Yet then the movie does the unthinkable, and humanizes the character of the evil girl, this time named Samara, by showing footage of her time in a psychiatric hospital, and instead of the horrible vision of a small figure with hair over their face, we see it’s actually just a very troubled child.  Naomi Watts over-acts somewhat from the very beginning and frankly her young son is creepier than Samara, which just baffles me.  Now looking back at the original ‘Ring’, I recall only glimpses of the girl, Sadako, a flash of a hand with no fingernails, the same creepy atmosphere, but very little humanization – and you never saw her face.  This then makes the ending something of horror legend, copied in the remake, much more terrifying as what crawls out of that TV and stands up to scare its victim to death, is not human, but pure evil – and just a close up of a blood-shot eyeball is all the viewer gets.  In the remake we see the girl, albiet zombiefied, but still a girl, with a stern pissed off look, and guess what – it’s not scary.  Well done remake.  You just killed the money shot! Continue reading

The Ordeal

Viewed – 09 April 2010  DVD

Very strange.  This urban chiller starts off like a cross between Texas Chainsaw Massacre and BBC TV show The League Of Gentlemen, with a cabaret singer travelling through rural France until his van breaks down and he seeks shelter in a local inn owned by a kind by slightly wierd old man.  Only problem is, said old man seems to have more than a few screws loose, and it’s not long before he has dressed up our terrified singer in his wife’s dress and starts calling him Gloria. 

This is demented stuff indeed, with the local villagers offering no salvation as they are more busy sodamising the local cattle than being at all normal(!).  This is basically the main character’s torment until he finds a way of escaping his captors, and is age-old stuff, but does offer a more disturbing and unrelenting atmosphere than some similar movies even if in the age of torture-porn horror movies like Hostel and Martyrs, it can’t deliver a true horror experience beyond its odd flavouring.  The lead actor Laurent Lucas is lacking in personality and is hard to like, and the demented other members of the cast offer very little depth, and not much light is shed on why they’re so nuts.  On a plus, the direction by Fabrice Du Welz is stylish with the lack of mood music ramping up the eerie semi-documentary feel, and some of the camera work is very imaginative.

Worth a look then if you like strange, freaky movies – but for me, I’ve seen much better.

Verdict:  2 /5

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Viewed – 04 November 2008  DVD

After getting a kick out of the recent big-budget remakes of this once forgotten horror franchise, it was well overdue for me to sit down and check out the one that started it all.  Tobe Hooper’s 1974 gritty horror is both still as effective as it undoubtedly was way back when, and stands alone as one of the most truly unnerving movies ever made.  Often when looking back on old horrors of the 70s / eighties, time can leave a bit of a dent in their impact, yet this very realistic, and harrowingly believable film still holds a lot of power.  Following what has now become a clichéd plot about a group of twenty-somethings travelling through America’s deep south countryside in a camper van, they stumble upon a house after an encounter with a weird hitchhiker.  Of course you can imagine what happens next (the story is not really the point here), as said house is inhabited by a family of crazy, hillbilly nut cases!  Step forward horror icon Leatherface in all his chainsaw wielding skin-masked glory!!

Now this is not a gore movie – far from it, as 95% of the nasty stuff is suggested or off screen (mostly due to the low budget), and much is left up to your own imagination.  It helps too that the ultra-gritty look of the film adds to the atmosphere and with a very scary soundtrack of weird sound effects and music, it is clear the whole point of this film is to leave you trembling and begging for mommy.  A deserved classic in the genre.

The DVD I checked out is the newly released ‘Seriously Ultimate Edition’ and is spread across three discs.  The first holds the feature in very crisp anamorphic wide screen, with the choices of 1.0 mono, 2.0 stereo or 5.1 surround soundtracks.  Add to this two commentaries, one with the director and the other with the cast…both well worth listening to.  The other two discs hold a wealth of documentaries, interviews and galleries.  Stellar stuff.  All presented in a fab steelbook.

Verdict:  5 /5