I should state at the outset I’ve see this film a few times over the years. Once as a teenager in the early 90s and a few times since then. With the original review I’d just got myself a swanky new big screen television. I decided to christen that tele with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Now a few years later I thought I’d rewatch the film and add a little more depth to this review.
The Texas Chainsaw massacre was originally shot in 1974 by director Tobe Hooper. In terms of mainstream horror this really upped the ante as far as on screen gore was was concerned. Despite this it still did very well at the box office, considering both the budget of the film and the fact many cinemas refused to show the film due to the graphic violent content featured.
Upon loading the dvd into my player and starting the film up it becomes apparent how far visual technology has come in the last 40 years. Sometimes I wonder “what makes a film great?”. This is a great film, however it was obviously shot on a substandard camera. On a hi-res screen this movie does appear much grainier than the films we have now. Don’t let that take away from the film though. I’d even say the “Shot of VHS” quality of this one probably adds to the realism and grittyness of the whole affair. Perhaps even giving that creepy air of a snuff film, something we’re not supposed to be seeing.
Once you let your eyes settle into the almost VHS like quality of the movie it seems to fit perfectly. I remember this movie from my childhood as being a landmark in horror when I saw it way back in the late 80’s (which was when I started watching horror movies) . And it WAS a landmark effort back then playing a major part in establishing the slasher genre in horror.
THE PLOT OF THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE
The film centres in on five teenagers on a road trip together. Kirk, Jerry, Pam, Sally, and Sally’s disabled brother Franklin. They pick up a strange hitch-hiker in nowhere ville Texas. He works at the local slaughterhouse and is a little on the weird side. The teenagers get a bad vibe about him once he starts talking about the slaughter house. It’s a minor detail but a couple of the teenagers are sickened by the brutality of the slaughter house / meat industry. I think to myself little do they know what they have got ahead of them. It’s an interesting contrast actually. They get rid of this guy and stop at a petrol station a bit further on but of course there’s no petrol at the only gas station in town.
The young adults have nothing to do till evening so they set about exploring the locality. The owner of the petrol station warns them not to poke around other people’s property. Franklin, the disabled guy has someone in his family that owns a house in the town. The gang decide to rest up there for the afternoon. Kirk and his girlfriend Pam decide to explore the locality and find a nearby old farm house and explore it, despite the warnings of the local garage owner. Little do they know it’s the residence of a family of demented cannibals. The viewer of course can work out what happens from there without me ruining the plot.
I’d originally written off The Texas Chainsaw Massacre as a fairly simple film. It’s not what I’d call complex either, but there’s a little more to the film than I’d originally thought. This is actually a quite well thought out film. There’s some good little nuances that those that watch closer in the first half of the film might pick up.
HISTORICAL IMPORTANCE OF THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE
The inconic “Leatherface” from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
This immensely watchable film which went on to become one of the classics of the horror genre and a must see for anyone with even a passing interest in horror. It established Tobe Hooper as a heavy weight in the genre and inspired sequels and remakes. One of the main protagonists, the hulking retarded son who wore human skin as a face mask went on to become one of the most iconic horror movie figures in history, Leatherface.
the film was made for a grand total of $140,000. A small sum even for the time. Despite the violence and many cinema’s reluctance to screen the film, it still grossed $30 million. All in all not a bad effort!
The promo for the film says it was based on a true story. It is, but take that with a grain of salt. Leatherface is based some what on the exploits of real life serial killer Ed Gein, tho a rather abstract version of him.
In 1986 Tobe Hooper returned to direct a very worthy sequel to the movie The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 which of course I have reviewed as well!
Again this was hard one to find on Youtube, but its very easy to find at any DVD store or order online. As far as I’m concerned it’s a must have for any self respecting horror collector!