The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 was not designed to be a critic’s darling. Not only was it more disgusting than the original film (which actually garnered acclaim), but its sick sense of humor was more blatantly obvious. Part of that humor is in its poster, which ought to be considered a classic example of twisted marketing. To see the film’s villains — Drayton Sawyer (Jim Siedow: Texas Chain Saw Massacre 1974), Leatherface (Bill Johnson: The Texas Comedy Massacre 1987), Chop Top (Bill Moseley: House of 1,000 Corpses 2003), Grandpa (Ken Evert) and “Nubbins” — posing like The Breakfast Club did for their poster was, and still is, brilliantly funny. In fact, it’s one of those jokes that easily lends itself to the movie’s enjoyment.
Behind the Posters: Texas Chainsaw Breakfast Club?
It doesn’t pay to analyze the poster, Instead, let it speak for itself. However, there are actually many layers to why it is funny, and it appeals to certain dark aspects of the human experience. Now, here’s the part of this article that might be controversial: People like murderers. No, I’m not saying they are fans of murder itself (although, some are). It seems that almost everyone is interested in them and sees them as part of the human experience. They are part of pop culture – a part of what we are – both collectively and individually. At the same time, most of us wish to appear decent, so we tend to conceal this part of ourselves. After all, if you look too casual at the topic of murder, you’ll seem a little bit off.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 takes politeness, and, in one little scene, comically throws it into the trash bin. It says, “Don’t lie to us. We know you are interested in disturbing things, even if you won’t admit it. Now, hear us roar!” Of course, in this case, it might be, “Hear our chainsaws rev!” Such is the power of morbid humor, and why it often strikes such deep chords. A lot of sick, twisted things people say are things that the offended are already thinking. There is also at least some truth to them.
They offer the truth that, when compared to the twisted Sawyer family, the drama of The Breakfast Club is like a stroll through the park. Oddly enough, it almost has a positive underlying message: “You might have it a little rough, but at least you’re not dealing with these guys!” Granted, some of us do experience actual trauma in life. We’ve probably been bullied at one point or another, or maybe even had our lives seriously threatened. However, even then a film like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 could serve positive functions.
How We Relate
At the very least, we may identify with the frightening circumstances undergone by Caroline Williams’ character, Stretch. Or, if we’re weird, maybe we feel more like Dennis Hopper’s character, Lefty Enright. Similarly, many of us identify with the plight of The Breakfast Club‘s characters, although that film employs a very different sense of humor. High school itself can be its own little version of hell, can’t it?
Really, the two posters remind us of different shades of the 1980s, and they augment each other that way. Who knows? Under the right circumstances, maybe John Bender (Judd Nelson – read our interview with him here) could get bent enough to become a violent maniac. Maybe Brian (Anthony Michael Hall: The Dead Zone TV series) could have become a school shooter, or loner Allison (Ally Sheedy: St. Elmo’s Fire 1985) could have gone off on some weird, destructive tangent due to her alienation. Not every maniac looks quite like the Sawyer family.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 poster also hints at normalcy in maniacs. Oddly enough, that can be a real thing. One fascinating aspect of serial killers is that, quite often, they were considered normal until their murders were revealed. For example, there are photos of Ted Bundy smiling and laughing. My favorite one is where he’s leaping joyously through the air, apparently happy as a child. Similarly, in footage of his courtroom confession, the serial killer BTK discusses his crimes rather casually, almost as one would normally discuss the weather. Or, if we want to include the ladies, consider also Tamara Samsonova, the so-called Granny Ripper serial killer of Russia. There’s creepy footage of her blowing a kiss to the camera. There’s a dark humor in it that simply can’t be denied!
All of these things are fascinating, aren’t they? If you’re still reading, then you must agree. Can I mention that the mother of serial killer Aileen Wuornos resided only about 12 miles from me? Or that mass murderer Richard Speck briefly lived in my area (he supposedly got in a bar fight in my puny little home town)? One of the PopHorror site owners lives 20 minutes from the original Conjuring house. Not too long ago, some ladies I know posed outside the home of serial killer Kelly Cochran, smiling for the camera while biting into a burger. Why? Cochran is believed to have served her ex-lover’s remains at a local barbecue! It can’t be denied that the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies hit closer to home. How could a person keep this swept under the rug?
The idea that something dark lurks around the corner can be found in films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. Their family dinner time scenes suggest that the Sawyer family could have been normal, but they seriously went off the rails somewhere down the line. Oddly enough, this theme blends together with The Breakfast Club, too. While those characters pick up the pieces and don’t become destructive or go insane, the Sawyers are a reminder that not everyone does. Horror helps to illuminate these dark corners of life, and it often does so with humor. So yeah, that poster rules.
What are your thoughts on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and The Breakfast Club? Let us know in the comments!