The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

texas chain saw massacre poster 1974 movie
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

texas chain saw massacre meat hook teri mcminn

Come visit the country, they said…it would be fun they said

After a disturbing discovery of grave robbing, Sally Hardesty (Marilyn Burns), her brother Franklin (Paul A. Partain) and their friends Pam (Teri McMinn), Jerry (Allen Danziger), and Kirk (William Vail) decide to check on their family plots and visit their nearby family homestead.  When they pick up a hitchhiker (Edwin Neal) and start to run out of gas, the day turns dark.  Sally and her friends have walked into a nightmare…and the horror is real.

Written and directed by Tobe Hooper (with Kim Henkel also contributing to the script), The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a grindhouse horror thriller.  The low budget film was released to mixed reaction and criticism and bans due to the violence.  The movie went on to gain a cult following and critical praise.

texas chain saw massacre franklin paul a partain marilyn burns

Franklin…I hate you

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was one of those legendary horror films.  The sequel was released in 1986 and faced an X Rating.  It just made the original film more hallowed horror ground.  When I finally saw The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, it had a lot to live up to.  The first viewing went ok, but I have gained more respect for the film as the years have gone by.

The movie has a slow burn start which is both its blessing and its curse.  The horror slowly builds (with some intense parts in the middle) to one of the most horrific ending sequences in a horror movie.  There is a sense of dread hanging over the Texas Chain Saw Massacre that permeates the story and keeps the viewer un-eased.

texas chain saw massacre dinner scene

Dinner is served!

The horror of the film is how the “family” treats their victims.  To them they are not only simply cattle, but they are also toys.  The family mocks the characters fears and horror.  It is a joke to them and a way of life.  Eating people is just a side aspect of the story, and the fact that they feed people other people at their restaurant is their own private joke.

The cast is a mixed bag.  Marilyn Burns is a good scream queen and the sequence with her at the dinner table is one of the best horror sequences.  Teri McMinn also gives a good and terrifying performance as the woman who faces being hung on a hook and stuck in a freezer.  Jim Siedow is a good hilljack and Edwin Neal fits the creepy hitcher role well.  Gunnar Hansen is imposing with his size as Leatherface and was the obvious jump out star of the series.  The debatable role is Paul A. Partain as Franklin who many list as the most obnoxious character in a horror movie.  John Larroquette provides the memorable opening narration.

texas chain saw massacre leatherface ending chainsaw dance

The “Chainsaw Dance” isn’t as popular as the “Safety Dance”

The strength of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is that it isn’t treated like a grindhouse B-Movie.  The film is shot stylishly and with interesting shots that add to the unnerving script.  Scenes like the camera moving under the swing in the yard show skilled cinematography that you wouldn’t expect from a low budget horror film.  It is also known for avoiding on-screen gore by mostly implying the horror.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is an acquired taste.  The first time I saw it I didn’t like it much, but the more times I saw it, I respected it more.  The horror grows and builds in a way that many horror films fail to achieve or even recognize.  The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was an early “pre-slasher” slasher film.  It has been remade and spawned multiple sequels, but none have reached the original (though The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 did take a different approach entirely)…stick with the original and give it a chance.  The movie will stick with you.  The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was followed by The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 in 1986.

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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