I'm the Lord of the Harvest

Movie Review: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

by Ted Willi

slays together
The family that prays together...

The Sawyer family, led by patriarch Drayton, is well-named, since they've long been fascinated with chainsaws: "The saw is family" Drayton says. As a small businessman, Drayton feels oppressed by high taxes and cut-throat competition, so he and his sons, Choptop and Leatherface (affectionately known as "Bubba"), put their chainsaws to effective use procuring cheap, high-quality meat for their barbecue business: "The Rolling Grill." The Sawyers have strong family values -- Grandpa and Grandma are held in high esteem, the boys look after each-other, and Drayton works hard to provide for his brood (where the mother is, is unclear; it's a Single Father household). In spite of these good qualities, the Sawyers have failed to embody one simple rule: love of neighbor. Having failed in this, they have no qualms about procuring meat from unwilling victims of the human variety. This leads to many forms of debauchery, which must be seen to be believed.

One such episode of debauchery is recorded by chance via car phone by a radio disc jockey, Stretch, who later is convinced by former Texas Ranger, Lefty Enright, to play the tape on the air, hoping to lure the killers out of hiding. Lefty has been searching for the chainsaw killers for 13 years -- ever since his brother Franklin and family members were chainsawed in the 1st movie. Lefty, planning to fight "fire with fire," purchases 3 chainsaws: "I ain't got no fear, Lord" he confesses.

The Sawyers are, indeed, lured out. Brothers Choptop and Leatherface make mincemeat of the radio station and the production engineer, L.G., but Stretch manages to escape by using her wits and goes in chase (a very brave lady!) Both she and Lefty eventually arrive at the ruins of "Texas Battle Land" where the Sawyers live underground -- a Texas road-side-attraction version of Dante's Inferno, with bone and skull decorations, inhuman tortures, a labyrinth of doom.

'Waiting for the harvest, and
the time of reaping...'
"Lefty" Dennis Hopper prepares for battle

Before making his attack on this "Devil's playground" -- seeking to "bring it all down" with his chainsaw -- Lefty takes a moment to compose himself: "Oh Lord, help me beat this stranger that walks beside me and takes away my strength. Lord, you show me the end. Show me what I fear, so I don't fear it no more."

Stretch suffers unspeakable torments at the hands of the cannibal family [the viewing is hard], but she has a strong will that gives her a fighting chance! (But what chance do we, the audience, have of facing these terrors unscathed? "Show me what I fear, Lord, so I don't fear it no more.")

Joyful affirmation of being
"Stretch" Caroline Williams' joyful affirmation of being

TCM2: Directed by Tobe Hooper. Starring: Dennis Hopper, Caroline Williams, Jim Siedow, Bill Moseley and Bill Johnson. 1986, MGM dvd 1000837.

04-June-2009 -- ALSO on this theme, a Music Review: Alice Cooper BRUTAL PLANET.