The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (Tobe Hooper, 1974)

Five friends visiting their grandpa's old house are hunted down and terrorized by a chainsaw wielding killer and his family of grave-robbing cannibals.

On a trip in Texas to find childhood memories first at the grave of their grandfather and then at their first house, a brother and a sister are accompanied by three other young adults. As one might expect, one by one they disappear in the house near the old creek until the last girl, the pretty blonde (Marilyn Burns), gets into a nightmarish chase and torturous night with a family of four retarded hillbillies who live in the most eerie and unsettling house to ever have been filmed. The sets are composed of a room there are meat hooks, in another one you find poultry, feathers, charms, many kinds of bones and altars, and I won’t even mention what’s on the second floor. This is a superbly well manufactured set for a macabre story like this one.

Of the family of freaks, not much is explained except that we guess that they like to eat fresh human meat and they are some deranged guys. This flaw or probably intended obscure part of the story is one of the things that bothers me in this kind of gross Horror. Almost shot like a documentary or an exploitation film, the original that inspired many other parts and remakes, may have launched one of the most prominent subgenre in Horror.

There are many images that have persisted through time from this movie and even if the overall quality of it is pretty average, you have to see the sets, the moment when Leatherface slams the door after he made his first victim, his pause while not really understanding what’s happening, and the grand guignol finale.

Just like Dennis Hopper’s Easy Rider, someone may bring up that it is a movie that doesn’t really hold up to the test of time. It, however, still creates an automatic repulsion and you only wish to never take the same road that those poor kids took.

Personally, it is a film I never saw before having to watch it for my quest to watch the 1000 Greatest Films of All Time of They Shoot Pictures Don’t They and I can surely say that I won’t be seeing this movie again, it is disturbing, annoying, and I just hoped that they all died as soon as possible just to get rid of all the screaming and crazy laughing. The effort and the talent of the filmmakers is undeniable and I admire someone who will take a risk at doing something out of the regular paths. This is a great example of that and I may also say that they accomplish the goal they probably wanted to get with this movie filled with filth (in the good sense), suggested violence, unique characters, and a great sense of Horror and repellency. Honestly, this is just not my kind of Horror and as much as I admire the whole thing I could not stand another viewing. Worth a look. 


  1. I watched this because it was a "landmark" film, and for no other reason. It's not the kind of movie I find entertaining. The thing that disturned me the most wasn't a visual, but a sound effect when one of the kids was brained. The solid, meaty "thunk!" really got to me.

    True story - the guy who played Leatherface changed careers to become a writer, and moved to the coast of my home state Maine. He's become a sort of real-life boogyman for the kids in the town he lives in because of his role in this film. http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/5121624/ns/today-entertainment/t/gunnar-hansen-life-leatherface/

    1. Interesting fact about Hansen Chip! Have you got to meet him?

    2. No, I haven't. He lives a few hours away from me, although I have vacationed near where he lives. In addition to some famous native folks (i.e. Stephen King) a number of Hollywood types have bought homes in Maine because of its beauty and laid back nature. Unlike them, Hansen appears to make his home here full time. Maine is big enough, and sparsley populated enough, that the odds of running into someone famous by accident are low.

    3. I can see that! I thought maybe you were regularly hanging with the guy for a beer while watching a Red Sox game...
      I'll have to go in the Maine sometime for a hike with my wife. I'll check your suggestions and tips when we'll do this!


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