THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974)

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The Texas Chain Saw Massacre CoverDespite what the title of this film claims, you will notice that only one person in it is actually killed by a chainsaw. Yeah. No kidding. Two were bludgeoned. One was impaled on a meat hook. And another one was run over by a truck. Now if you don't believe me, just ask the Director: Tobe Hopper; or the Actors: Gunnar Hansen, Marilyn Burns, and Paul A. Partain. But only ask them this in 1974, and for about 83 minutes.


The Texas Chain Saw Massacre


THE STORY:
Word to the wise. If you and your pals are ever thinking about driving to your old country-house that's situated out in the sticks, please don't pick up any weird Hitchhiker's (Edwin Neal) along the way. Honestly. Or otherwise this stuttering sleaze bag might turn nuts on you, and cut himself up for no apparent reason what so ever.

Furthermore, once you've dumped this cretin onto the side of the road, and finally reached your end destination, for the love of God, don't snoop around next door, or else you might end up like filet mignon.

I.e. Dead Meat.

Yeah. I'm not messing about! If you don't believe me just ask, Kirk, Pam, and Jerry (William Vail, Teri McMinn, and Allen Danziger). Because one by one, each of these young bucks venture into the aforementioned dark dwelling, and come to a grizzly demise thanks to the brute with a face of death, named 'Leatherface' (Gunnar Hansen).

Granted, there two un-roadworthy buddies, Sally and Franklin (Marilyn Burns and Paul A. Partain), don't know about their deaths straight away. No. I'm afraid not. They both wait until night falls first before they then start a snooping.

Still. That's most probably why what next transpires begins when a brute with a face of death rears his ugly head yet again. As Chainsaws go zoom - dinner spells doom - a getaway isn't easy - and please remember, the end of this film is rather wheezy.




THE REVIEW:
Believe it or not, 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' has got an awful lot to answer for. Well, not only was this the flick that began the spatter house craze in the seventies, and inspired the likes of 'The Evil Dead' and 'The Hills Have Eyes' to be made. But in addition to this, folks, this was the flick that sh*t me up so bad when I was a kid, that it took me a bloody long time before I sat down and watched it once again.

Leatherface in The Texas Chain Saw MassacreAdmittedly, now that I have, I don't think that it has that same zeal as I initially thought it did. Some of the actors felt a bit hammy in retrospect. Plus some of the 'effects' felt a bit nth rate too -- especially the Grandpa make-up.

Nonetheless, apart from these two little gripes, overall I honestly have to give kudos to this film for taking a genre, giving it its own spin, and then spawning a shed load of homage's in its wake.

Well, let's face it, how many times have you seen an adventure story where a group of kids venture out into the middle of nowhere, and then get killed by some spook or nut-job standing by?

A lot, right?

Yet, whilst saying that, I bet you've never seen many adventures where the camera-work and the basic premise was so gut wrenchingly emotional, that a shed load of movie makers have tried to copy it ever since. Also, what about the concept behind a family of cannibal's, huh? Because you don't come across very many movies were the bad guys are one part 'Beverly HillBillies', and one part 'Hannibal Lecter'.


The Victims in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre


Do you see what I'm driving at, folks? 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' came first. And it brought along with it the token bad-guy, the suspenseful and moody ambiance, plus the usual 'new kids on the block' who are about to be stabbed to pieces by whim of fate.  

Cannibale in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Here, before I get too esoteric about this piece, let's have some filmic facts, shall we? (1) The alleged Mafioso company, 'Bryanston Pictures'; originally released this $300 thousand dollar production on the 1st of October, 1974, and clawed back $30 million dollars at the box office. (2) Some of the alternate titles for the film were 'Leatherface', 'Head Cheese', and 'Stalking Leatherface'. (3) Contrary to popular belief, this horror classic is not based on a true story. Granted, some of it was loosely based on the exploits of the Wisconsin serial killer, Ed Gein. But its director, Tobe Hopper, come up with the basic idea behind this flick, whilst standing in a crowded section of a hardware store, and spotted a chainsaw, whilst thinking of a way of getting out. (4) The majority of this film was shot on location throughout the state of Texas. This includes: Austin, Bagdad Cemetery, Hills Prairie [the gas Station and BBQ shack), Round Rock, and Watterson [the slaughter house]. (5) Its pretty safe to say that the actress who played Sally in this film, Marilyn Burns, and the actress who played Pam, Teri McMinn, both came across a few problems whilst making it. In the case of Sally, her clothes got so drenched in fake blood that they were virtually solid by the end of the shoot, plus she also cut herself quite badly in her chase scene with Leatherface. And in Pam's case, she bruised her leg in the scene where she was held up by a real nylon cord. (6) Just so Gunnar Hansen could get into his role of Leatherface a bit more, he decided to visit a mentally retarded school to gauge some inspiration from its inmates. (8) I kid you not; the human skeleton seen in this movie was a real human skeleton. According to legend, it was cheaper to buy a real skeleton in India than to buy a fake one in America. (9) When this film first premiered, a hand full of audience members were so disgusted by it, they actually walked out of the cinema. Moreover, due to its gruesome content, this movie was banned in Australia and Finland until the 1980's and 1990's respectively. Whilst in England and Germany, it has been censored, banned, and then finally released, un-cut, in 1999 and 2011 respectively. 


Dinner Time for The Texas Chain Saw Massacre


Now without a shadow of a doubt 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' is a film you have to watch before you die. Not only because it was the first of its kind. No. It's not just that. But because it will scare you, spook you, and ultimately suspend you into believing that fright is right. Ha!

THE RATING: A