It took twelve years to produce a sequel to the unnerving, low budget masterpiece Texas Chainsaw Massacre. So, how does TCM2 stack up to the original? Well, it's hard to compare the two because they are very different films. Yes, they have some of the same characters, but TCM is a pure horror film that never lets up on its feeling of sheer terror, while TCM2 attempts to combine horror with humor, resulting in a very disturbing Road Runner cartoon.
What these two films do have in common is maximum scare with a relatively low body count. This is impressive especially for TCM2 which was birthed in the era of the "Dead Teenager Movie" where the general rule was the more bodies, the better.
They were also both directed by Tobe Hooper, although TCM2 had a much larger budget which actually may have been its downfall. With TCM, Hooper had to get creative to set the mood of the film and he did so admirably. I still think it's one of the creepiest films of all time. TCM2 is also creepy but the underground cave set is completely overblown. There are too many lights, too many rooms, too many things to look at. It's distracting. Sometimes less is more.
Speaking of less is more, could someone please get actress Caroline Williams to stop screaming? Don't get me wrong, she's very good as DJ Vanita Brock but can someone give her something else to do in this film? It nearly gives the viewer a migraine. Dennis Hopper also stars in this film but he actually has very little screen time. He gives a good performance but he has very little to work with so it's hard to tell what he could have done with a little better material.
Tom Savini is the gore guru for TCM2 and as far as I'm concerned, he hits a total home run. By 80's standards this is high quality blood splatter that is squirm-worthy a number of times in the movie. Furthermore, the make up work on characters such as Leatherface and Top Chop is first rate as well.
As a final note, I'm not a big fan of films that try to entertain by excessively torturing human beings. TCM2 seemed unnecessarily brutal with not nearly enough humor to counteract it. My preference is for the original over the sequel. But, TCM2 is not without its merits. It just feels like it's trying too hard to shock people. Trust me, the subject matter is shocking enough already. If Hooper had toned it down a bit, it would have been a total home run.
For more info check out the episode's entry in IMDB.