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film #2 of hooptober 4.0: revenge of the hoop
one of the biggest problems with horror sequals is that they try to just redo the same story and plots from what came before. to it's credit, texas chainsaw massacre 2 doesn't do that. for better or worse, tobe hooper's follow-up to his legendary and infamous slasher film sheds much of the original film's forgotten-but-significant restrained tone. it trades the gritty low-fi terror of the original in favor of a pitch-black horror comedy that revels in its excess to the point of grand guignol.
the choice by hooper is both good and bad. a quintessentially 1980s-era horror film, chainsaw 2 works thanks to memorable characters and goofy but legitimately funny weirdness from the cast. bill moseley is a riot as the deranged chop-top and bill johnson does fine work making leatherface dangerous, yet oddly sympathetic. caroline williams is a great scream queen, with attitude to spare when she needs it and able to project terror when under threat. and dennis hopper is a blast in his scenery-chewing role as lefty, a man with a vendetta against the sawyers.
that said, the film's indulgence takes things more than a little too far at times. shots and scenes go on too long, and jokes last well past their expiration date. the dinner scene tries to replicate the original's insanity but lacks the same power, or even the same insane comedy. the positive does outweigh the negative though, and texas chainsaw 2 is a hell of a lot of fun all in all. it's near-essential viewing for horror hounds that appreciate the 1980s era of the genre.
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