Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2’s True Horror Isn’t What You Think

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 Anniversary: Horror Comedy Review

But though the Last Round-Up has earned a certain amount of regional fame, there’s a melancholy to Drayton’s operation that echoes back to the reason he’s driving a food truck in the first place. This is underlined when Grandpa Sawyer (Ken Evert in majestically decrepit old age make-up, courtesy of Tom Savini) shuffles into the action and we get a little bit of exposition. The family was “raised in meat,” but when the slaughterhouse automated its business, it was the beginning of the end. “The electrified cages, the cold-steel chutes, the air-powered head hammers…that drove Grandpa crazy,” Drayton explains to a terrified Stretch. “One morning, Grandpa just quit going in. It was the shame.”

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Now, there’s pride to what the Sawyers have accomplished, but they still long for the glory days of the slaughterhouse. As Drayton emphasizes throughout the film, running a small business is no picnic, what with all the people he has to please, the nitwit brothers he has to manage, and the endless taxes he has to pay: “Small businessman gets it in the ass every time!” When Lefty bursts into the Sawyer lair wielding a chainsaw, Drayton’s first thought is not of the people his family has killed over the years, it’s that Lefty was sent by a rival business to sabotage his operation (“Who sent you? Those sissies over at Del-Mar Catering? That chickenshit burrito-man bunch?”). Instead of preparing to fight back, he digs into his wallet for cash to buy off the intruder.

TCM 2 is delightfully absurd, something a casual viewer might not pick up on initially thanks to its wealth of quotable lines and scene upon scene of operatic gore—not to mention a few genuine scares. It offers a weird (but also weirdly poignant) take on how the idea of the American dream evolves across generations, with nostalgia for the past often insisting on clinging to the present. And while the first Texas Chainsaw movie dangles this possibility, its wackier sequel hammers the point home: if only that slaughterhouse had kept things old-school, the Sawyers could have kept using their talents and expressing their urges in a way that wouldn’t involve quite so many dead human bodies. Probably. Maybe? On the other hand, Leatherface sure does love chasing people around with that dang chainsaw.

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