This is Part 1 of this year’s Halloween Double Feature. Here, we’re taking a look at the script.
(Then check out The Captain’s movie review in Part 2.)
Halloween is once again upon us!
Here’s our 2nd Annual Halloween Double Feature!
Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)
1.) Marketability of the Idea
Ah, the beauty of a franchise.
Little marketing involved for things like Halloween, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, and of course chainsaws and their relative proximity to the Lone Star State.
On top of that, horror is a genre that contains the most dedicated of fans, one being our very own Captain Peachfuzz, who will buy tickets to (or queue up at home) even the most ridiculous and low budget of flicks.
Do audience goers, such as our beloved Cap’n, enjoy every horror movie they see? Absolutely not, but it doesn’t stop them from turning out in the future.
Okay, so most of us aren’t lucky enough to write within an established franchise, but that’s okay.
There’s always reboots!
Several months ago we took a look at a Friday the 13th project that never was, and I stand by my argument that rebooting a script you may not have the rights to is still a worthwhile “calling card” sample of writing to have in your arsenal.
It gives the reader something they know, can quantify monetarily, AND should display your writing abilities by delivering a unique new twist on a classic.
Sure the project might stay confined to the pages of your PDF, but it could open doors for your other ideas!
Enough of me trying to convince you…look at the figures associated with this franchise.
(Notice the second installment, the project we’re reviewing, is one of the lower in the bunch. Only makes sense that this would be the Cap’n’s favorite…)
2.) Plot Stability
We’re often told, as screenwriters, to get right to the action.
It’s often the exception that useful tip is abused, but this plot was…a bit on the light side.
We had the opening. We had the chainsaw fueled showoff at the end.
What we didn’t get was more of a story about why Lefty Enright was there to do what he needed to do and Stretch playing a key role in that for him.
Lefty’s been chasing the Sawyer family for years all over Texas, but never seemed to catch them, and gives a quick backstory to Stretch about them attacking his sister’s family…
It’s all very quick, and feels like something that “needs to be taken care of” because it’s in the way of all the chainsaw fun we have planned!
What was interesting (to me) is the idea of The Cook taking the brothers’ cannibalistic desires in a more entrepreneurial direction.
In the film, Drayton (The Cook) is winning awards for his chili…that just so happens to have human meat in it. Ah, but those 1980s yuppies can’t get enough of the shit.
On top of that, the Sawyers were ahead of the curve with their chili food truck!
What an ingenious idea. Having your horror film baddies take their one vice and turn it into a legitimate business that people have no clue about.
I’m kind of amazed by that.
Per the usual 1980s formula, we’re given an attractive young female, in the form of Stretch. (Who makes all the absurd decisions no one in real life would ever realistically make.) This seems crucial to horror movies of the time, because a monster needs a piece of ass to chase…it can’t just be anyone!
And you get the chainsaw beheadings that will put butts in the seats.
What you don’t get, at least in the script, is any worthwhile “glue” that holds the plot together.
And that’s important for your overall story.
*NOTE* Part of the story, based on all the “yuppies” mentioned frequently, seems to be a theme about getting attached to material possessions.
Sure the 80s are portrayed as a coke fueled spending spree, but all the negative talks about expensive brands in this script felt more like…hmmm…
Not a clever, behavior altering movement.
3.) Quality of Characters
All the originals are back?
The Sawyer family has moved on, and although Grandpa’s dead, he’s still carried around and used for killings in puppet form!
For a franchise, this is kind of important, because the audience has expectations you’ll almost contractually obligated to live up to.
(The argument made in the Friday the 13th review a while back was no one wanted an origin story based around Jason’s father…they wanted Jason.)
What didn’t work for me, or at least wasn’t developed enough, was the “love story” between Leatherface and Stretch.
Not being afraid somehow scares him off and makes him NOT want to chop Stretch’s head off, so we get this strange scene (I’m guessing is meant to be erotic in some way) where Stretch slides the chainsaw up her inner thigh asking Leatherface if he, “Knows how to handle it?”
It scares him, because she’s not scared, so he runs off, and later finds her in their hideout. There he gives her a gift any would be suitor would give the lady he’s courting, another human’s face.
She is repulsed, and suddenly her being afraid isn’t an issue, because she’s definitely afraid.
It’s all just odd and thrown together in this 64 page Cliff Notes style script.
(Maybe it’s all flushed out in the film, but I’ll let the good Captain handle that.)
4.) Dialogue and Description
Despite being written almost 30 years ago, this script had its moments in the black space.
I remember reading Halloween 3 last year which had long, monotonous blocks of description. This script really didn’t.
Even despite the unorthodox opening, explaining the Texas vs Oklahoma game, the images presented were clever and set the stage for the debauchery the brothers could use to their chainsaw wielding advantage.
What really happens is a SuperAmerican go-crazy blood-grudge
ritual: thousands of Texans and Okies overrun the streets.
Knee-walking drunk; brawl and butt heads; throw TV sets out
hotel windows; crash cars and trucks — it’s a small, fast offthe-
record Weekend War fought for no reason except for the hell
This story fits into this uncontrollable weekend.
And what the script lacked in plot it almost made up for in cool visuals!
Enright stops in front of what he wants.
ENRIGHT’S POV: THE WALL
The overhead florescents blink on, flicker-lighting a wall
of chainsaws. All sizes. Row above row. An uneasy-making
And one more form page 44:
STRETCH’S POV: DIORAMAS
These little fake scenes of Yuppie Skeletons At Play: Yuppie
Skeletons jogging in the Park; Yuppie Skeletons sunning at
the Beach; etc.
The skeletons are real. They’re wearing shreds of bright
Yuppie outfits. It’s grisly but somehow jaunty.
Ha! All the dead yuppie skeletons being stuck into the wall like ancient dioramas!
Take that Corporate America!.
Dialogue was alright.
Most of the issues I had with it were all the back to back uses of certain words like “Huhn” and “Arright” that almost felt like the writer forcing a certain redneck dialect onto the brothers or Texans in general.
Ironically enough, I’m going to argue that 64 pages is too short.
Aside from that, there was a shitton of typos.
Remember folks, typos are THE EASIEST things to fix in your script, and a critique you don’t need to pay for!
By not doing correcting them, your reader will assume you’re lazy and/or don’t value their time.
(Not a good hole to literarily argue your way out of.)
6.) What I liked…
The wackiness this sequel hoped to achieve.
7.) What needs work…
Adding additional scenes that beef up the overall story, making it more compelling.
Rating: Clocking in at 64 pages, use this as a reading exercise to review the script and then brainstorm ideas that you would use for a reboot.
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