Movie of the Week: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre / The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 (1974 / 1986)

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Tobe Hooper directs Marilyn Burns, Jim Siedow, Gunnar Hansen, Caroline Williams, Dennis Hopper and Bill Moseley in this very black and gory horror series with growing shades of satire… the Sawyers are All American grave robbing cannibals who keep getting intruded upon by outsiders.

The first part is THE lurid thrillride, the sequel a camp OTT parody. Hooper wants to warp and reflect ridiculous American values. Whether he is treating kids as cattle or spoofing the lust and greed of a hard working, capitalist family. The first film is truly disturbing, relentless when it gets going. The second has three stretched out scare and torture sequences framed by a detective revenge story incongruously involving a DJ. The films don’t really correlate, don’t feel a piece. But when the excess comes it feels related though. Screaming, squealing, dirty, nasty, sweaty, pointed shock imagery.

The sight of Leatherface appearing from around the corner for the first time, braining an annoying hippy, then slamming the door to his world shut on us again almost instantaneously is one of the finest moments in horror cinema. Jump scare, joke and tease to even bigger grimness all-in-one.

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His sexual awakening in Part 2 is sweet. He’ll put a fresh severed face on you and show you his moves. The lad.

He dances frustratingly with his Chainsaw in the dawn by the end of 1. Just another monster we leave behind as we head shellshocked back to civilisation. By the end of 2 it is the final girl is doing the Chainsaw mambo (a winning Caroline Williams… the acting is better in 2 by country miles). She is defiantly the top of the food chain now. Just as deadly, just as angry. It lacks the grotesque pure art of the original’s finale, but it seems to fit nicely. We start the series in a reflection of America, we end in its comic book fantasy. One where Leatherface is a romantic interest, Chop Top (Moseley wins as the freakiest ghoul) is comic relief and “Just the Cook” resembles a certain president.

10/7 

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