The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

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8.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 10/10

Visual movie which really builds terror vs. fear

Franklin

 
Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

Studio:  Vortex

Genre(s):  Horror/B-Movie

Release Date(s):  October 1, 1974

MPAA Rating:  R

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If I were the Arnold, I would have a clever line when I hang you up.

The robbing of a graveyard brings out a group of teens to check out the grave of the grandfather of Sally Hardesty (Marilyn Burns) and her brother Franklin (Paul A. Partain).  After a scary encounter with a hitchhiker (Edwin Neal), the group heads to the abandoned family homestead.  Terror ensues when the group is attacked by a man (nicknamed Leaatherface) (Gunnar Hansen).  A night of terror begins and no one can escape the family cannibals.

Written and directed by Tobe Hooper, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (Chainsaw is spaced in the original title) received poor reviews upon its release and was highly criticized for its violence and gruesome scenes.  It was banned many places, but has since been seen as a revolutionary film that changed the style of the genre.  With an ultra-low budget (approximately $300,000), it was also a big moneymaker.

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Lucy in the Sky with Chainsaws

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is rather tough to watch.  The film claims it is based on a true story…that is kind of accurate, it was based on Ed Gein killings who was known to eat some of his victims, but that is the extent of the “true story”.  There really isn’t a ton of violence on camera and much of it is implied.  What is implied is a really, really horrible things…women on meat hooks, chainsaw deaths, etc.  Unlike something like Halloween, it feels much more real.  The whole messed up family is not only creepy but the horror is based on sheer terror.

I would say that the acting isn’t very good (mostly due to the obnoxious, thankfully quickly chainsawed Franklin), but it is quite strong through the rest of the movie.  The family is great and Gunnar Hansen based his performance on special needs kids.  Edwin Neal and Jim Siedow are a great father/son combo and really radiate the crazy.  It is too bad that “grandpa” is so poorly made up…it feels like a waste of a character.  The voiceover person also has fame…It’s John Larroquette providing the famous narration, but the real star is Marilyn Burns who really does seem tortured throughout the movie…her performance during the dinner scene is worth the price of admission.

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“Hit her in the head Grandpa”…worst dinner table small-talk ever

A lot was made about the violence against women in the film.  It was labeled as an exploitation film by many since Burns is tortured while everyone else is quickly dispatched.  I don’t know if I’d be as freaked out by the film if a guy was being tortured at the dinner table scene.  A guy in that situation would probably scream just like a girl and it would have become laughable.  Burns was necessary to really pull the scene together and men and women really can connect with her without any humor.  The family mocks her pain and mocking the pain just makes it scarier.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a necessary watch for all horror film fans and in general for the study of film.  It affected films that came after it and is often listed as one of the scariest films ever made.  The film was followed by The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 in 1986 and remade in 2003.

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Related Links:

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 (1986)

Leatherface:  The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990)

Texas Chainsaw Massacre:  The Next Generation (1994)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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