29 September 2014

September 29th

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) directed by Tobe Hopper
How do make a sequel to one of the all-time classic horror movies? Do something different. Anyone trying to semi-remake the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre in order to attempt to recapture some of that magic is doomed to fail. Another group of kids running into the Sawyers and getting slaughtered is just going to be boring. Hooper and company wisely chose a different tack.

TCM2 is big and loud and gooey and goofy. This is a movie in which Franklin's uncle Lt. Lefty -- played Dennis Hopper in the same year he starred as Frank in Blue Velvet! -- decides to visit a chainsaw shop in order to arm himself for a fight with the Sawyers. There's absolutely no reason for this. A Texas lawman is going to already have plenty of guns he could easily use to pick off the cannibals from far beyond chainsaw-gouging distance. Nope, Lefty buys three chainsaws and straps them to his body. Why? Because it leads to an awesome duel with Leatherface, that's why. The film needs no other reason, nor should we. This isn't a study in the darkness of human nature. This is maestro Tom Savini showing us what we weren't allowed to see in the original: what happens when a chainsaw plunges into someone's guts?

But, how's this for an alternate theory? The introductory text tells us that Sally sank into catatonia after telling of her experience with the Sawyers. Maybe TCM2 is actually a delusion in poor, broken Sally's head? Think it through: who would Sally think could save her from her tormentors and get revenge? Well, her daddy's dead -- otherwise, we'd expect him to be living in the house they traveled to in the first picture -- but her uncle is a badass Texas policeman. Her madness cast him as the warrior to chase and destroy her demons, and she cast herself as Stretch. Stretch finds herself in exactly the same situation that Sally did -- captured by the Sawyers with grandpa trying to bash her head in -- in an exaggerated, funhouse version of the Sawyer's original house. When all is said and done, Stretch is not cowering in the back of a pickup truck. Nope, she's dancing wildly with a chainsaw, having conquered the Hitchhiker replacement Chop-Top. Hell, I bet Sally woke up right after this, feeling much better.

Tales from the Darkside 1.20: "It All Comes Out in the Wash" (1985) directed by Frank De Palma
A businessman orders a laundry's secret special service: they have the ability to wash away your guilt. Free from any guilt for anything he does, the businessman spirals downwards into eviler acts, even going so far as to order the murder of his son's friend's dad for a small slight. A great one-room performance by Vince Edwards.

The Real Ghostbusters 1.01: "Ghosts Я Us" (1986) directed by Richard Raynis
Sets up the show nicely. Right from the start there's that classic Real Ghostbusters mixture of silliness -- the family of idiot ghosts they chase at first -- and surprising darkness. The Elder God-like entity that the ghosts wake up in the toy factory is no joke. It's initial appearance is very creepy, looking like a giant gray worm with an eyeball at the front, and it threatens to destroy all of NYC. That darkness is what attracted me to the show as a kid, as it wasn't something you saw much in cartoons (with a notable exception of the contemporaneous Inhumanoids). I appreciated that the Ghostbusters always had a serious job to do.

Why are they the "real" Ghostbusters? Because in this first episode, the trio of ghosts pretend to be ghost catchers in order to run the real Ghostbusters out of business. It had nothing to do with any crappy Filmation cartoon that may have existed at the time, no sir!

1 comment:

  1. 1986 was a peak year in Hopper, wasn't it?

    I've heard the "TCM2 is a dream" theory before. It's fun to entertain but I've never gone for it, myself. TCM2 is so much fun that I wouldn't want to scrub it from continuity. I can't say it's better then the first but I think I might enjoy it more. I definitely watch it more, that's for sure.