The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) - Tobe Hooper
No one involved ever thought The Texas Chain Saw Massacre would be the hit that it was. Most thinking it would play a few Drive-Ins then vanish into obscurity. But after over a year in the editing room, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre burst onto the scene in October of 1974. Less than one year after The Exorcist scared the wits out of movie goers, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre left patrons running for the doors for its overall intensity (which couldn't be cut around, by the British Censors, the BBFC) which was almost too much to handle for some audiences. Surprising really, as Hooper had been aiming for a PG certificate, even communicating with the MPAA throughout production to try and keep within the confines of the audience friendly rating. A PG was not to be though, as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is an intense, crazy, and surprisingly funny piece of grind house gonzo filmmaking. Showing very little overt gore, the implication of the murders being much more terrifying than what could have been shown (i.e.; meat hooks bursting through actresses chests, which was considered).
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre opens with the foreboding flashes of a camera, photographing a newly dug up corpse from a local cemetery in Newt, Texas. The discovery of these desecrated graves and a crude man made skeletal monument lead to Sally Hardesty, her brother, and her friends visiting Texas to check on the
grave of their grandfathers plot. In many ways, this act of desecration, instigated by the soon to be introduced Hitchhiker could be viewed as the catalyst and eventual downfall of the family of murderers and cannibals, as
without this, the group of teens would have never visited the small unknown backwoods town and as we are led to believe or at least assume the eventual finding of the chain saw clan post-credits.
Regardless, in a very short while the teenagers run out of gas and a couple of them go looking for some fuel in a nearby farmhouse, only to be the first to fall victim by the imposing, mentally challenged man child in a human skin mask called Leatherface. Things tend to get a lot worse for them from there on in.
The intensity of the picture is exacerbated by the life-like arguing between family members until the feeble Grandpa is wheeled out and the proceedings take a decidedly ghoulish turn and the movie turns from gruesomely satirical to black comedy. To the brutal attack and eventual escape of young Sally, (the beautiful Marilyn Burns in her most memorable role). Most scenes of violence, if not all, carry an underlying intense comedic element to them making the whole of the proceedings seem that much more real and unfabricated. Akin to spying on the terrible crimes and being utterly helpless to stop them.
Unfortunately no one knows exactly how much money the movie ever made during its initial run due to the shady producers pretty much taking the majority of the grosses. Leading to Vortex suing and eventually reclaiming the rights. Unfortunate, as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre would surely be held in even higher regard had the box office numbers been exact and available. As it stands, a copy of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre resides in the Museum of modern art and is widely regarded as one of the greatest horror movies of all time.
The greatest horror movie ever made (?). Probably! A must own for horror fans and a must watch for everyone else. Highly recommended!