Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Chainsaw Waltz Redux

Last night I FINALLY had time to sit down and watch my DVD of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, and it was love at first sight. I had never seen this as I mentioned before, and was initially leery; the first Texas Chainsaw Massacre scared the fuck out of me. I was about twenty, watched the original with Bevin and Malinda at Bevin's dad's house while he was away, and didn't sleep right for about a week. Bevin was so messed up she had to sleep at my apartment for almost the same amount of time.

I was new to horror movies at the time, and was NOT eager to repeat a scare this bad. Now I'm older, more cynical, and definitely more desensitized; buying sight unseen a used copy of TCM2 just seemed natural and right, dangit.

As it turns out, younger me need not have worried; this movie was less scary and far more hilarious. Here we meet another member of the family, Chop Top, the Vietnam vet with an exposed plate in his head, bad teeth, and a penchant for sizzling his head wound with a heated hanger and eating what comes off. Yes; he eats his own scalp.

Seems the Sawyer boys are out and around in more urban areas now, since the eldest brother, Drayton, is an award winning caterer. There's a scene in the beginning when Drayton is given a trophy for best chili in a competition; in the top of his trophy is a bowl, which has been filled with his award winning entry. You can imagine how horrible a bowl of what was probably just Hormel chili looks as everyone licks their lips, trying to taste. I gagged.

Then we have Lefty, as played but what I can only guess was an extremely drunk Dennis Hopper. He didn't have any noticeable signs, but MAN did he ever have a weird light in his eyes this whole movie; he reminded me of several of my former roommates, in fact. Lefty is a man haunted; he is (I think) Sally and Franklin's brother, and a former Texas Ranger who has been searching for the Sawyer clan for some fourteen years. At this point he is the only one who believes Sally's story. In summation he is twitchy as fuck. At one point he goes and loads up on not one, not two, but THREE chainsaws, bought from some old coot with a roadside store. Had I been the toothless codger in question, there is no way in HELL I would have sold anything more dangerous than a soda to Lefty. He never says a word to the man, and then proceeds to chainsaw the living hell out of a tester log, doing his stoic, glassy-eyed version of the crazy Leatherface dance. I really doubt that either chainsaw or log lived to tell the tale.

Finally, we have Stretch and L.G, both employees of a local rock station. They might be the owners, I'm not sure-- I was trying to do part of my Chemistry homework during the beginning of the film. Stretch is young and sassy, and does the deejaying while L.G is the engineer. Two yuppie pricks keep calling in one night, harassing Stretch, and in the process manage to piss off what I assume was Chop Top and Leather Face. Stretch ends up taping the two screaming as they are chainsawed by our boy Bubba, which she then tries to hand over to Lefty.

A few words on the yuppie extermination: that was one of the coolest things I have ever seen, and I think has to go down in personal history as one of my all time favorite scenes. Leather Face puppeting a corpse that has been strapped to his own body, swinging that chainsaw around was like something Jim Henson's doppelganger would have come up with. I am SO going to do something like that one Halloween! All of this is going on atop the roof of a moving pick up truck, and is the coolest thing in the whole of forever right now.

Stretch ends up calling own the wrath of the family, and poor L.G gets killed and taken by Chop Top and Leather Face. I'm sure you can guess what they intend to do with him. This is where we learn that Leather Face does indeed have a libido; sometimes a chainsaw's not just a chainsaw, folks. Stretch is smart enough to parlay Bubba's sexual desire for her into an escape, which leads to some awesome pelvic thrusting while revving the saw, at Stretch. Then Leather Face ran away. Save for most of the blood, it reminded me a lot of grade school.

Amusing to no one but me, I managed to pick out a Cramps song, while Bevin noticed an Oingo Boingo tune. She initially said "Oh! Right! That's Billy and the Boingers." I was bug eyed at her, because I was pretty sure I didn't hear any Bill the Cat in the music in question. Now THAT, dearies, is old.

All of this leads to the most epic of epic battles: a chain saw duel, between Leather Face and Lefty, and frankly, I didn't know who to root for. Dennis Hopper in a ten gallon cowboy hat, singing hymns as he chainsaws the Sawyers' home (an abandoned theme park) down into the ground is truly a striking image, I must say. So is Stretch tenderly putting L.G's face back on him after he saves her. I'm not into recreational drug use, but MAN, I'll bet this is some trippy shit on the right substances. Trippiest of all however, is Leather Face slipping Stretch the tongue. Drayton is NOT pleased that little Bubba's discovered what a hard on's for, and I'm left wondering if they make their own condoms. EGAD.

This was a weird, weird movie, and I am SO glad to have this for my personal collection. I am taking this with me when I go see Cins this summer, and we are going to drink a lot whilst laughing raucously.

Jim Siebold was the only original cast member in this film, playing eldest brother Drayton, though the actor playing L.G was a crew member/ camera man on the original. I'm really glad that they had Drayton-- that was the most foul-mouthed old man I have ever been privileged to hear, and he went off in some truly creative rants, calling his brothers pecker heads and fudge packers, frequently in the same breath. He gets mildly chainsawed in the booty by Lefty, which was deeply funny, but what can I say; the five year old in me still thinks butts are funny.

I recommend this movie, heartily, and I have no idea why this film apparently got shit all over by fans and critics alike. It's way more comedic in tone than its predecessor, but that's not a bad thing. The acting was great, the story was hilarious, and I think this was way more enjoyable than the remake in 2004. (Eventually I'm going to do a contrast and compare between the original TCM and the remake. The original is better.) According to, Dennis Hopper lists this as his worst movie ever, which I think is pretty fucking ambitious considering he was in Super Mario Brothers AND Water World.

Give it a watch, drink in the weird! I dunno about you all, but I'm off chili for the next few weeks.


Johnny said...

I didn't 'get' this movie the first time I saw it and ended up not liking it so much. But i've come to love it over the years. I guess in the beginning I just couldn't understand why such a scary and real movie became so wild and funny in its sequel but I now see that Tobe always intended there to be some humor in the original, which no one really saw. So he just went ahead and made a straight up comedic style take on the material.

That being said, at the end of the day, how can you not love Dennis Hopper vs Leatherface?!

Stac said...

Don't ask me, Johnny, as I LOVED IT DEEPLY.

Cins and I are planning a huge Chainsaw fest when next we hang out in person. :)