With 13 Days of Sequels I’ll be reviewing horror sequels every weekday for the last two weeks of October. You can view all entries HERE.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that innocent, wide-eyed naïveté of which all outside stimuli is consumed and filtered through when you’re a child. The uncritical, accepting fondness for something, simply from not having the knowledge or reference point of anything else.
I enjoy being a somewhat jaded, somewhat snobbish free-thinking adult who is able to analyze and interpret the art and media he consumes – but man, I do look back on those early days of watching movies without judgment fondly. That sort-of unrealized thought process of, y’know, “just throw whatever at me now and let me figure it out in 15 or 20 years when I’m all grown up”. And it’s clear to me now that my open-minded opinion on certain films exists only because I devoured them on an empty head – for which I’m incredibly grateful.
One such film is the absolutely bonkers The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. Now before you all chase me out of town with torches, let me assure you: I love The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. I love, love, love it. Sure, I think it stands on its own as a sequel (it’s so singular, how could it not), but I also think me seeing it before I started thinking critically about film helped me accept it as canon. I clarify this because, while I love TCM 2, I can understand how someone who was an adult in 1974 and saw The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in theaters would have a less than favorable reaction to TCM 2 upon seeing it a decade later.
And for awhile, that seemed to be the consensus for horror fans of a certain age group – at least, until, the next generation came along and hoisted TCM 2 into the air, praising its bizarro performances and turning it into some sort of cult hit.
Now, director Tobe Hooper claims he set out to make TCM 2 as darkly humorous and weird as it ended up being, and I want to trust him considering how out there the final product is – but I’ve never believed Tobe Hooper to be a very visionary director, so it’s hard for me to think everything that happens in TCM 2 is intentional as Hooper has led on. I think his body of work is kinda spotty, and in terms of his two greatest successes: I think The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was a group effort – one that was effective and successful because of all involved, and I think Poltergeist truly was directed (or “guided” at least) primarily by Steven Spielberg.
Whether or not Hooper intended to create the celluloid fever dream that is TCM 2 ultimately doesn’t matter, because he succeeded in spades. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is everything The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is not: it’s unsubtle, it’s bright and flashy, it’s funny, and it’s gory as all get out. It’s this same approach and execution that, like Sleepaway Camp II (which I mentioned earlier in the week), I think makes it so successful. What, at one time, made the film so divisive, now seems to be what makes it so unanimously loved.
As I said above, I have nothing but love for TCM 2. And I’m glad I saw it before I was a critical, analytical snob.