THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE PART 2: Scream Factory Blu-Ray Review With Screen Comparisons

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 triumphantly returned to Blu-ray this week in a new jam-packed edition from Scream Factory.

This article contains several comparisons which contrast the older MGM Blu-ray transfer with the new Scream Factory restoration. The frames aren’t necessarily exact matches, but should give a solid indication of the visual differences.

Top: Old MGM // Bottom: New Scream Factory

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre enjoys a revered spot at the top of horrordom, frequently referenced (with equal attention to The Exorcist) as the “greatest” or “scariest” horror classic of all time. Relentlessly moody, grimy, and, well, relentless, it’s still the epitome of gut-wrenching terror filmmaking that’s more interested in the threat of violence than its gory execution. We covered it on Two Cents for its 40th Anniversary in 2014 and the praise was both vigorous and unanimous, as it tends to be everywhere.

It would be more than a decade before the influential and revered classic would spawn a sequel, perhaps intimidated by accolades, increasingly iconic status, and raw, unnerving power that the first film had achieved. When The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 finally came together with original director Tobe Hooper on board, it did so very quickly, and it was as a whole ‘nother thing. A carnival of carnage. A hard left-turn sequel. Full of eye-popping color, dark but silly humor, a surprising amount of action including a chainsaw duel, and buckets of gore. In short, it was everything the original was not. The Two Cents gang covered this one as well, and surprisingly gave an overwhelmingly favorable response.

Top: Old MGM // Bottom: New Scream Factory

The Sawyer family, the murderous cannibals from the original film, return for the sequel, having fled their rural home for the big city where they continue their murderous ways, only now they operate an award-winning barbecue food truck. They also have a new (to the audience) member — the incredibly goofy, constantly-quipping Chop Top (Bill Moseley), a Vietnam vet who was absent from the events of first film. He’s the twin brother of Nubbins (the original’s hitchhiker), and sports a namesake steel plate in his head, a souvenir from ‘Nam. Chop Top is the clearest example of how radically different this sequel’s tone is.

“Lefty” Enright (Dennis Hopper), a former lawman with a connection to the first film, seeks the Sawyers, still tracking them vigilante-style to bring them to justice. He’s not entirely all there himself, as evidenced by his obsession, best demonstrated in a surreal scene in which he goes shopping for new chainsaws, settling on a monster-sized one and two smaller ones to dual-wield.

His search finally gets a new lead when Leatherface and Chop Top make the mistake of killing a pair of joy-riding nitwits while they were prank-calling a radio station. The buzzing chainsaw murders being recorded by the on-air DJ, a spunky gal who goes by the handle Stretch (Caroline Williams).

Top: Old MGM // Bottom: New Scream Factory

The unlikely duo of Lefty and Stretch discover the Sawyer’s hideout, a sprawling subterranean network of tunnels beneath an abandoned theme park, and then things get weird. Well, weirder. Leatherface gets some interesting character development, and we get to witness an incredible chainsaw battle between him and Dennis Hopper. Even so, it’s the beleaguered Stretch who gets the last word — and parting shot — in the film’s deranged climax.

Top: Old MGM // Bottom: New Scream Factory

As a result of its insane stylistic choices, the film proved to be controversial. Many fans were baffled and disappointed at the changes, yet still others fell for its uniquely bizarre charms. So deep and lasting was the impact that every follow-up in the franchise has repeatedly tried to retcon, reboot, or remake the story — most recently with Texas Chainsaw 3D which sought to position itself as the “true” sequel to the original. The franchise has mutinied against its own creator, and it’s arguably because of this movie.

But if you can roll with the changes Gremlins 2-style, this is a very rewarding and fun movie that doesn’t take itself seriously and took a chance on making something genuinely, radically different in a genre that likes to keep making more of the same.

The Package

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 has been released on Blu-ray before, by MGM. As extras go it was no slouch, packing the feature-length documentary It Runs In The Family, a commentary, deleted scenes, and other goodies, but fans lamented the noisiness and color timing of the transfer, as well as the egregious Saw-inspired cover artwork that tried to make it look like a contemporary me-too torture porn instead of a bizarro horror classic (see also: the Twilightization of Near Dark).

This new edition from Scream Factory has more features than you can shake three chainsaws at. It cannibalizes all the content from the MGM disc — including that DP-approved transfer, for those who prefer it, plus a ton of new interview features produced by Red Shirt Pictures, and other goodies.

It also sports incredible new cover art, plus the Breakfast Club parody poster design on the reverse. My copy came with a slipcover with the new art as well. Scream Factory often has great new art for their releases, but I think this is quite possibly the best one they’ve done. It’s incredible.

The new edition not only adds a ton of bonus features, but improves upon most of the features which were on the earlier MGM disc. The It Runs In The Family documentary, theatrical trailer, and alternate and deleted scenes are now framed in deinterlaced HD (upscaled where applicable) rather than SD with combing. Additionally, the horizontally stretched aspect ratios on the deleted and alternate scenes have been corrected. Understand that these are the kinds of fixes that are almost universally ignored with new editions, and Scream Factory deserves heaps of praise for this level of effort.

Special Features and Extras — Disc 1

It Runs In The Family Extended Outtakes (29:37)
 2006 interview segments with L.M. Kit Carson and Lou Perryman, both now deceased, which didn’t make it into the documentary.

Still Galleries
 Black and White (5:00), Behind The Scenes (10:35), Personal Collection of Jason Guy (2:00), Color Stills (2:00), Posters and Lobby Cards (4:15), and Special Effects Gallery (2:15)

Theatrical Trailer (2:04)
 US and Japanese 60-second trailers.

TV Spots (3:29)
 Six 30-second spots and a 15-second Japanese spot.

Behind The Scenes Footage Compilation (43:35)

Alternate Opening Credit Sequence (1:56) and Deleted Scenes (10:57)
 These carryover features have been improved; upscaled, decombed, and set to the correct aspect ratio.

Special Features and Extras — Disc 2

The interview-based features on the second disc are newly produced for this edition by Scream Factory and Red Shirt Pictures.

The Movie — Original HD Master Supervised by Director of Photography Richard Kooris
 Scream Factory has generously included the original transfer from the previous Blu-ray release in addition to their new scan. Personally, I’ve never seen the movie theatrically (in fact I’ve only seen it on the Blu-ray), so I didn’t have a strong opinion on the older transfer, but it’s definitely noisier, darker, and higher-contrast, and the colors run hotter.

Here are a few more comparisons between the older MGM transfer (left) and the new restoration (right).

Top: Old MGM // Bottom: New Scream Factory
Top: Old MGM // Bottom: New Scream Factory
Top: Old MGM // Bottom: New Scream Factory

Should this new edition replace your old disc? Absolutely, for all practical intents and purposes, yes. However, the older transfer as included here does appear to be a bit compressed in the interest of jam-packing the disc as full as possible. A direct comparison of the video files (sans audio) shows a drop of about 24% in filesize. Visually, I can’t tell the difference. But technically, if you prefer the older DP-approved transfer, the previous disc has a slightly better version of it.

House Of Pain (42:32)
 With make-up effects artists Bart Mixon, Gabe Bartalos, Gino Crognal, and John Vulich

Yuppie Meat (18:59)
 With actors Chris Douridas and John Vulich

Cutting Moments (17:19)
 With Editor Alain Jakubowicz

Behind The Mask (13:48)
 With stunt man and Leatherface performer Bob Elmore

Horror’s Hallowed Grounds (24:33)
 Episode of a very cool series which seeks out locations from horror movies. A similar episode showed up on Scream Factory’s new Village Of The Damned disc, so hopefully this is indicative of a new trend on their releases.

It Runs In The Family (81:41)
 Feature-length 2006 documentary. This feature was on the earlier Blu-ray release, but this is a higher-quality version of it.

Scream Factory’s new edition of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 is a phenomenal package. For fans, it’s a must-own and worth the double dip thanks to a new, more natural transfer and a staggering amount of bonus features — plus everything that was on the earlier MGM release.

A/V Out.

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