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Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The (1974)

And how will they be cooked? White Sauce? Grilled with Rosemary?
And how will they be cooked? White Sauce? Grilled with Rosemary?

Genre: Slasher Horror

Starring: Marilyn Burns (Helter Skelter • Eaten Alive), Allen Danziger 

Directed By: Tobe Hooper (Salem's Lot • Poltergeist)

Overview: A carload of teens visit a childhood home in the country. They find far more than old memories.

Kids on vacation!
Kids on vacation!

What astounds me about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, in this, my third or fourth viewing, is not how the 2003 version was perfectly rehashed into an unsatisfying blatant mockery of itself with beautifully fake hipped out cool kids - quite the lovely trend of this past decade; it's not how five sequels/versions later (not including House Of 1000 Corpses), it became even more bastardized than Jaws 4, The Revenge (whose tagline is This time... It's personal) - frankly those things don't surprise me one bit. What astounds me about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is how amazing and intense it remains from that first image, a flash of a decomposed corpse, to that last madness-laden frame - Hell, even from before the first shot - the pre-credit narration was intensely creepy.

For those of you living in Cave-istan, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a story about a carload of young adults who go on a road trip. Two kids have inherited their grandfather's old house, and their friends join in the adventure. The strangeness begins right away when the kids pick up a weird hitchhiker who speaks of his love of head cheese, knives and slaying cows with a sledgehammer, aka 'the old way'…quite a lovely cautionary tale for you folk who think about picking up that guy on the side of the road. From there, the childhood memories abound at grandpa's house! Graverobbings, dried up watering holes and a death-mask-wearing cannibal freak extraordinaire as your neighbour... he seemed like such a quiet man. From here on you can guess that there might just be a massacre, and perhaps a chainsaw too.

Dancing With a Chainsaw - really it's quite romantic
Dancing With a Chainsaw - really it's quite romantic

Although The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a simple slasher film, there are many a great thing going for it. The primary antagonist, Leatherface, is perfectly inhuman, not to mention that iconic and frightening name. One of the main character kids is bound by his wheelchair, a little difference that makes the story that much more unique. Most importantly however is the effort that went into the décor of a house where such madness could occur. Every inch of Leatherface's home is a twisted place with fetishes and weapons on every wall and in every corner. Of course, part of what makes this story so terrifying is that it's based on very true events. Ed Gein, the man who inspired The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was a Wisconsin handyman who confessed to robbing 9 graves and killing 2 women in 1954. His own true story includes field dressing one of his victims like one would a deer in preparation for curing, and a search of his home revealed several death masks, severed women's heads, a bowl made from a skull and the lovely little accessories of skulls on his bedposts. There's one for Better Homes and Gardens...

In short, there's many a great reason why this film has received such acclaim. Find out for yourself. You'll never see furniture the same again.

Hmmm, interesting angle...
When she said 'let's hook up', I don't think that's what she meant...

Performance: 8 Cinematography: 9 Script: 8 Plot: 8 Mood: 9

Overall Rating: 84% (Kill a Couple Hours!)

This time I saw The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on Blu-Ray. I was worried that there would be too much during its remastering phase to the point that the atmosphere would be less gritty. There's a particularly frightening night scene that I suspect was shot underexposed. My fear was that Blu-Ray would manage to draw too much light to this dark, if technically inferior, scene and spoil the fear and confusion that it caused. Well the good people at Blu-Ray did a fine job cranking those levels up just enough to take away the frustration of the underexposure. Frankly the suspense and the atmosphere was too good to let a little thing like that stop it.

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