The Texas Chainsaw Massacre-1974
Top 100 Films-#35
Top 20 Horror Films-#10
Top 10 Disturbing Films-#5
Scott’s Review #209
Reviewed December 31, 2014
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one of the grittiest, raw, frightening horror films that I have ever seen and still holds up incredibly well in present times. Containing a documentary-like look it is incredibly scary in its grainy, visual, real-life feel. It is not psychological horror- it is in your face, brutal horror. The perception of an incredibly hot, sticky, backwoods Texas summer is incredibly well done and only adds to the terror.
A group of five teenagers travel to the vast fields of Texas- aka- the middle of nowhere, presumably on a road trip. On their drive they pick up a strange hitchhiker who ends up stabbing one of the teens and cutting his own arm. Spooked by this odd occurrence, they stop for gas and directions, but veer off course and accidentally wind up at a slaughterhouse owned by cannibals. The group of teens is led by Sally Hardesty, played by Marilyn Burns.
As the teens are chopped off in grotesque fashion, similar to a slew of similar fashioned, but less interesting horror films to follow, Sally winds up the lone survivor of the group. Burns plays the first “final girl”, a title made famous in horror films as the last female remaining alive- it was almost always a female- to take on the maniacal killer.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre features one of the horror genre’s best villains- Leatherface. The viewer knows little about him as he does not speak- is he mentally disabled? Is he an intelligent man? He is disguised behind a mask made of strewn together human skin and wields a scary chain saw. We know nothing about him- only that he loves to kill. The ambiguity is immeasurable.
Besides the way that the film is shot, another shocking element is the reality of the story. Could this really happen to the viewer? The answer is yes of course it could. How many times have we been driving and gotten lost in surroundings unfamiliar to us? There are no supernatural beings or CGI effects in this film- only a group of youngsters crossing paths with maniacs and this could happen in real-life. This realization adds to the fright.
The famous- or infamous- dinner scene is revolutionary in disgust and distaste. The family attempts to serve Sally as dessert to the elderly patriarch and as he begins to suck blood from Sally’s finger, it will force the squeamish to turn away.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a short film, running at only 84 minutes, but the breathtaking finale- Sally running through the endless woods followed by Leatherface, seems interminable. Will he catch her? How can she possibly escape?
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is dirty, ugly, and intense. It is no-holds barred brutality. It is one of the best horror films ever made.