The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

Blu-Ray Rating: ****1/2

Reviewed by: David Graham

Read David Graham's film review of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

Arrow’s superlative treatment of perhaps undeserving cult titles reaches a new apex of extravagance with this 3-disc release, housed in a gorgeous slipcase with a 100-page book. The big exclusive here is Tobe Hooper’s first two features – short crime caper The Heisters and hippy head-trip Eggshells – both of which are highly intriguing and display elements of his style in an embryonic state, but they’re arguably curios for completists and diehards rather than reason alone to buy the set.

Elsewhere there’s a slew of informative features in the form of Hooper commentaries for Eggshells and TCM2 as well as a lively group yak-track for the latter between Caroline Williams, Bill Moseley and Tom Savini. The most substantial and enlightening bonus (despite the absence of Hooper) is the full-length It Runs In The Family documentary, following the sequel’s rocky road from hasty conception to bungled release via predictable censorship woes. All involved still seem fond of the picture and proud that it has finally found fans, and offer up all sorts of enlightening info that really helps to put the pic in context.

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There is also a short interview between Calum Waddell and Hooper, over-viewing his career and discussing the political bent that drives him – it’s most interesting to hear him criticise the homeless problem in LA, outright asserting that it has led to cannibalism that has been brushed under the carpet. A fantastical claim, but his concern is palpable, making the underlying themes of his superficially schlocky films feel deeply personal.

An alternate opening sequence and deleted scenes show how the film could have been even more gratuitously gory, with a wild chainsaw rampage through a crowd of jocks showcasing some crazy Savini splatter. There’s also a trailer reel for Hooper’s major theatrical films, which is great fun and highlights not only how idiosyncratic and varied his oeuvre is, but also how much it dipped post-TCM2. Finally, an interview with horror critic Stephen Thrower feels like filler since he’s not exactly enthusiastic about the feature, a surprise given some of the dreck he often champions.

On the A/V front, Arrow’s restoration goes a little overboard with the cinematic grain during the many dark scenes – as they did with The Funhouse – but otherwise it’s a suitably grimy and garish presentation of a film that’s always had something of a nauseating quality anyway. It’s not a huge step up from the ‘Gruesome Edition’ DVD, but it’s the best you’re likely to get and the cleanest you’d want it to look, and what the sound lacks in dynamics it makes up for in clarity and volume.

Overall, Arrow have outdone themselves yet again – aside from a few minor quibbles (many of the TCM2 features are rehashed from the previous release), this is an irresistible package for fans of the film or just of Hooper himself, carrying so much historical worth that fans of the original will find fascinating and even detractors of the sequel will be able to at least appreciate its intentions. It’s available for the princely sum of £20 in most high street stores and ‘limited’ to 10,000 (even featuring a laminated postcard bearing that Breakfast Club homage), so rev it up while you have the chance.

Reviewed on: 12 Nov 2013
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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 packshot
Leatherface and family torment a radio DJ in a bloody comedy sequel to the horror classic.
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Product Code: B00E8EFJI2

Region: 2

Sound: Dolby, PAL, Surround Sound

Extras: Tobe Hooper short films, It Runs In The Family documentary, interviews, deleted scenes, trailers, audio commentaries.

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