The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) vs. House of 1000 Corpses (2003) – Horror Movie Rip-Off

Horror Movie Rip-Off compares and contrasts Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses

Which do you prefer when it comes to crazy, maniacal, downright dirty and savage families looking to chop up some grade-A human flesh? I guess, it all comes down to personal preference, but isn’t preference drawing a fine line between comparing and downgrading the other? Well, you’re in luck, because another horror movie rip-off is in tow, and this time it brings the flesh by the pound, or pounds? I think it’s the latter. Today, we’re going to be discussing, a little bit of comparing, and see who claims victor, while the other takes the road less traveled in 2003’s Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses (watch it HERE), and Tobe Hooper’s 1986 follow-up in the Leatherface mythos, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (watch it HERE). Both are delightful, both are cult classics, ad both stack up well against each other. But who takes the cake, and is it a blatant ripoff? Let’s dive in.

IT’S ALL ABOUT FAMILY

Family is where the heart is, or maybe someone’s innocent beating heart about to be ripped out from them by either the Firefly Clan or the Sawyer Clan. Both TCM 2 and House possess two different, albiet the same style of families. They’re both hellbent bloodlust, decorating their establishments with all types of body mutilations, and unseen horrors that we do not dare try to piece together. It’s clearly an amusement park of horrors. You have the firefly clan made up of Otis, Baby, Tiny, Mother, Grandpa, Rufus, Earl, Dr. Satan and of course Captain Spaulding who is revealed to be the last centerpiece at the end of House’s finale. What’s truly amazing is Bill Mosely playing both Choptop and Otis Firefly in both these films and just loves to ham it up in both. You can’t help but wonder that Zombie used TCM 2’s family dynamic as influence except injected it with steroids, as TCM 2 has Leatherface, Choptop, Grandpa, and Drayton Sawyer running the show. It’s a family affair and they all possess different mentalities of sadism, masochism, and straight murderous intentions. Both also have some very weird grandfathers although House’s has a flair for the theatrical. But it’s all about preference, they’re different yet similar and you can’t help but to root for both, even if the fireflies are just a modern representation of the Sawyer clan. They do, however, sure know to make a fish and human work very well together.

House of 1000 Corpses

IT’S A TRAP!

When it comes to horror films, you usually need dumb decisions to get the ball rolling, but both TCM 2 and House have a similar way in narrative that sets up their exposition. When young adult males decide to venture out to a football game, they take the desolate nightly Texas roads to get there, usually a bad idea. This in turn caused them to become bait for good ol’ Leatherface who makes one of them missing half a head, and the other one becoming a mangled mess in the forthcoming car wreck. Bad decisions usually don’t end well, which brings us to House’s group of feeble-minded minions – Jerry, Denise, Mary, and Bill looking to explore offside establishments, but take a liking to the fables and myths of Dr. Satan’s grave which Captain Spaulding gives them a “map” to get them there. Only this time on the way to their destination, they pick up a hitchhiker, named Baby, played by Zombie’s real-life wife, Sheri Moon Zombie. The car breaks down by a well-placed gunshot. Baby Firefly guides Bill on foot to her house so they can seek help and get back on the road. Clearly, they won’t be making it to their girlfriend’s father’s house for Halloween, that’s for sure. You gotta love when crazed families plan and map out tactics for their next victims. Great bonding time, that’s for sure.

UPHOLDING THE LAW

Both House and TCM 2 have the fuzz, as they call it on both family’s tails. In House of 1000 Corpses, when one of the victim’s Denise Willis goes missing, her father Don, calls the deputies to investigate which leads to Deputy George Wydell played by Tom Towles, and Deputy Steve played by Walton Goggins to the Firefly House. It doesn’t really end up well for the both of them, as they become pigs to the slaughter. As for Lefty in TCM 2 played by legend Dennis Hopper, he is the uncle to Franklin and Sally of the first film, and he is out for some good ol’ fashion revenge. Although, he does bend the honor and laws of the badge he represents going after the Sawyer clan on his own with a little help from Stretch. In the movie’s climax, Lt. Lefty has a climactic chainsaw fight against Leatherface and takes on the Sawyer clan by himself while also trying to save Stretch in the process. Hopper definitely has charisma and bravado in this role, it’s just a shame we weren’t comparing Lefty to House’s sequel, and Wydell’s ass-kicking, god-fearing righteous brother, Sheriff John Quincy Wydell played by William Forsythe.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

A KNACK FOR MASKS AND UNDERGROUND GHOULS

In TCM 2, Stretch’s friend L.G. Peters unfortunately becomes hammer fodder and has his face taken off by Leatherface. L.G’s face is forcefully put on Stretch’s face as she screams in terror withi the underground lair beneath the amusement park inhabited by the Sawyer clan. A truly horrifying sight to see. I believe Zombie wanted to use this infamous death by having his malevolent Firefly, Otis do the exact same thing to Denise Willis’ father Don, who is gun downed by Otis when he goes out to investigate with Wydell and Steve. Don’s face and body are flayed by Otis and is worn by Otis during the famous “Run Rabbit Run,” ceremony and sacrifice. Otis ends it by putting Don’s face on the daughter’s which is some truly horrific stuff. The survivors in House at this time which are Jerry and Denise, are thrown into a coffin and levered down into a literal pit of hell filled with ghouls, zombies, and of course Dr. Satan himself. Bones are draped all along the underground walls just like that in TCM 2. You got to appreciate the grisly artistry displayed by both the Fireflies and Sawyers with their lovely hang out spots.

CLOSING

You can’t help but deny that Rob Zombie used both TCM 1 and 2 as influence for his House trilogy. There are a lot of distinct parallels between them, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Family dynamics are usually hard to juggle but in House and TCM 2 they’re balanced perfectly well; giving us a taste of each character displayed throughout their runtimes. Tasteful, but totally disgusting is what I’ll say. Each movie has cemented itself as cult classics, and both are in my collection as it stands with repeat viewings from both. Sometimes taking influence and ripping off components into films work, but they need to draw a fine line without becoming watered down and boring. Usually, they’re elevated and are an homage to those that came before it. Thankfully Zombie didn’t overstay his welcome with TCM 2 Influences and made House of 1000 Corpses his very own. It truly shines when it warrants repeat viewings, especially every Halloween and I consider it a love letter to TCM In its own right.

Two previous episodes of Horror Movie Rip-Off can be seen below. To see more of our shows, head over to the JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channel – and subscribe while you’re there!

Source: Arrow in the Head

About the Author

4 Articles Published

Paul Bookstaber is currently a video editor and writer for Joblo Media Inc, and loves all things movies, especially the horror genre! Paul was also a prior video producer/video editor for the NBA, traveling around the country and attending live broadcasted events for four NBA seasons. Paul is also an avid basketball player, loves spending time with his family, and watching anything and everything that peaks his interest. Paul has been a massive fan of Joblo spanning back to 2006, and is proud to be a part of this tremendous team of film enthusiasts and cinema lovers alike! Some of Paul’s favorite films in no particular order are Heat, Road to Perdition, Collateral, The Batman, The Dark Knight, Seven, Prisoners, Blade Runner 2049, Terminator 2, There Will Be Blood, Last Samurai, Top Gun Maverick, The Prestige, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Halloween 78’ and Whiplash.