Happy is a relative term, especially when you’re talking about horror films. I knew that to fulfill this part of the challenge I had to pick something funny and campy. How about some Texas barbecue, 80s alternative rock, a demented fun park and Dennis Hopper? Yep, I’m talking about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.
TCM2 makes me happy because of its total absurdity. Leatherface and his giant chainsaw penis fall in love with a girl. Dennis Hopper isn’t too far from Frank in Blue Velvet, filmed in the same year. Drayton Sawyer is concerned with taxes and clean meat, and thinks he’s running a legitimate business, and I’m pretty sure there’s a strong anti-greed sentiment being expressed using his character. Chop Top has a dead body for a ventriloquist dummy, and the horror fandom’s cultish love for Bill Moseley is completely explained by his performance in TCM2. The radio station reminds me of the two radio stations I worked in back when there still were independent stations. The (non-horror) scenes out and about in Texas are only slightly less satirical than True Stories. We get to see a log cabin made of french fries.
In order to satisfy new 80s audiences the original TCM template would no longer do, but I bet fans of the original were pissed off. And since I don’t like the original (in fact, it put me off meat for two years), the idea of making those fans mad makes me laugh. That is, laugh at my own mental picture of a bunch of people getting ready to see some bleak carnage and then being all like “what the hell is this shit” and throwing popcorn and Cokes at the screen. That’s the way I felt when I saw the original after expecting a fun, entertaining horror movie. Plus, isn’t it nice that Spielberg let Hooper borrow some of the skeletons from Poltergeist?