Jun 7, 2023

The Saw Is Family

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Part 2
Mahoning Drive-In Theater - Lehighton, PA
Yesterday was National Drive-In Day, in which movie fans across the country celebrated the 90th anniversary of the first drive-in movie theater which opened in Pennsauken Township, New Jersey on June 6th, 1933.  We celebrated at the Mahoning Drive-In Theater with one of the most batshit crazy horror sequels of all time, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Part 2 (show banner designed by Andrew Kern).

Everything seemed normal when we went to work this morning.  The skies looked the same as they do on pretty much ever other day, and there was no strange odor in the air.  By the time we left the office, there was a reddish grey haze and it smelled like the whole region had stuck its face in the remains of a campfire that was just extinguished.  By the time we got to the Mahoning, the sun was an ominous color when seen through the things that are now in our air.  This is the result of over 150 wildfires that are burning all over Quebec and Ontario, and the winds changing to blow the smoke down from Canada into the United States.  It has been reported that this cloud of smoke is so large that it can be seen from the International Space Station.

I'm not sure what the air is doing to our lungs, but at least it didn't hurt the quality of the picture on the screen.

Last night was my second time seeing The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.  I saw it once as a teenager and thought that it was one of the craziest movies I had ever seen up to that point.  Time has not changed my viewpoint on this.  This movie is definitely not the horror classic that its predecessor was.  The plot is absurd, the dialogue feels like it was written by a 12 year old on cocaine, and the acting is some of the worst you will ever see, including what feels like 100 different shots of Dennis Hopper going wild with a chainsaw on the wooden beams that keep the Sawyer family's underground lair from collapsing in on itself.

Texas Chainsaw 2 has gained a cult following in recent years.  It has been praised as a brilliant satire of the first film and of the slasher genre in general, but whether or not this was Tobe Hooper's intention is debatable.  I'm sure that he'd be the first to claim that it was, but when you make a movie that's as bad as this and people react to it as if you did it on purpose, you'd be a fool to not just roll with it.  Make no mistake - this movie is terrible.  The plot makes absolutely no sense at all, and just about every word out of every character's mouth makes the conversation on an episode of Jerry Springer feel like a scholarly lecture.  However, this is one of those times where a movie is so awful that it's a lot of fun.  I wouldn't recommend it to everybody and I'd strongly recommend that you don't go into this movie expecting anything similar to the experience that you had with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but if you can turn off your brain for 100 minutes and go for the ride that this is taking you on, you'll have a good time.

One fun side note to this movie is that the last cast member that you'll see in the end credits is Joe Bob Briggs.  As hard as I find it to believe that any editing was done at all, the scene that he was in was cut from the final film.  Here is a clip from a 1986 episode of Entertainment Tonight that D'arcy shared on YouTube featuring the king of the drive-in talking about the first film and his experiences working on the sequel.