|Directed by:||Tobe Hooper|
|Written by:||Kim Henkel, Tobe Hooper|
|Cast:||Marilyn Burns, Allen Danziger, Paul A. Partain, William Vail|
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.
Before any other movie had thought of it, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre tried to create a slasher character to spawn a franchise and even though it did, not a lot of people know it. Most people couldn’t even tell you before the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake came out that there was ever an original film, or series for that matter. It’s originality and extreme brutality at the time of release is near insane, but it’s also no wonder that this film franchise fell by the wayside after Halloween and Friday the 13th. There isn’t really much of a well-known cast for this film, but the director and co-writer has become quite a horror legend since. Tobe Hooper has directed a countless amount of horror films, but this was his first and he did a hell of a job breaking out into the scene. For its time Texas Chain Saw Massacre was extremely disturbing, and it’s so well made that it’s held up 36 years and still gives me the creeps. The film is one of the pioneers of disturbing gore and horror concepts for the modern times, and the story here is quite fantastic when you really think about it. Leatherface has become quite a familiar character to horror fans, and since the remake has become one of the more popular characters to come out of the genre.
Halloween in my eyes is the front runner in what made the slasher genre what it is today, and there’s even a part of me that thinks Friday the 13th helped the cause two years later. But really, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was kind of this first slasher type of film, it just wasn’t as noticeable. The film is about a killer that kills people found in his lovely state of Texas, only to eat the meat from their bones and use their faces as a mask. Leatherface and his family of meat-eaters is truly terrifying, and there’s just something about it that is really unsettling. I think the main reason that there isn’t much recollection of this film years later, is the fact that it was actually disturbing enough to turn people away from it. At the time of release in 1974, this was a pretty horrifying concept that hadn’t been hardly tackled in the light as bright as this. This would be my guess as to what has kept this movie fairly unknown, at least to me, until the remake of it came out in 2003. It’s definitely a front-runner in the list of films that disturb me, and I’m sure to a lot of others it’s considered such as well. The film is so great in making such a normal place in our country of America, feel like it is stuffed full of maniacs and killers.
The thing that is the most scary about this film is that not only is Leatherface killing people and wearing their faces, but his family then cuts up and uses the body for food. They literally just eat meat of the people they kill, and it’s kind of the explanation in the film as to the reason these people are crazy. The even crazier thing about this little place in Texas, is the fact that not only is it Leatherface and his family, but it’s also everyone in else in the town it seems is related to the family somehow. When there’s truly nowhere to run in a situation like something as this, and it’s not just one killer but an entire family it’s extremely terrifying. I love that the entire little group of the house is into the whole cannibalism thing, and it’s really what takes this film above and beyond just a slasher film. It’s a film about truly evil people who do truly evil things, and to me this is where Rob Zombie gets a lot of his film influence is from movies such as this one. The brutality in which the kills and the family are predicted is pretty hardcore for a film of the time, and it’s the main reason this one of the most classic horror films to date. With its use of extremely terrifying concepts and a story, we get one of the most disturbing films I’ve ever seen.
I’d say the last 30 minutes of this film amount to so much by the time it arrives, that it’s almost gut-wrenching to watch anymore. It gets so disturbing and just wrong by the end that it proves itself to be strictly for fans of the horror genre. Leatherface and his merry band of family members’ activities are not for those weak of stomach, nor is it for those who would find anything like this offensive. Despite being extremely early on the concept, I think it’s by far the scariest film to explore cannibalism with backwoods type behavior of people in Texas. Tobe Hooper made the cannibalistic killers look and feel like real people in the film, which makes them all the more scarier. I can recall meeting some people of similar behavior to those of this family, and they all lived in my backwoods redneck hometown of Hamilton. There are people like this that are a little weird, but Hooper takes it to the next level of evil/cannibalism and makes them scarier than they already are awkward. The film focuses on such sadistic and evil behaviors that it’s really not a surprise that most people either don’t remember the film or haven’t seen this original one. With a final 30 minutes that is not comparable to any other horror film scene in history as far as making me want to vomit, it’s hard to say it’s not an impacting horror film.
Tobe Hooper really impresses on his first outing as a director and really shows the reason that he’s been in horror as long as he has. He came out with one of the craziest stories/films that we’ve ever seen to date, and it’s almost 40 years old still holding on to that same edge it always had. The concepts that it deals with in cannibalism and such isn’t necessarily for the common movie-goer, and I’d say if you’re interested in a Texas Chain Saw film I would recommend the remake for the easily disturbed. Basically if you think Saw is intolerable, this film can make you really think twice about ever talking to another stranger in a small town. If you are a huge horror fan though, there is plenty here to attract you to this film and it’s much worth all of the classic praise it now receives. When a film is able to actually make me weak and feel just disturbed and sickly, I know that the film is doing its job in horrifying me and this is sure as hell one of those. The dinner table scene is by far one of the most memorable scenes in film to me, and every time I see it still gives me the chills. A family with no remorse, no second thought, of killing any person that wanders into their town without a purpose. A killer, that wears the faces of his victims, and a family, that eats the rest makes for quite a horrifying, horror film.