The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

"OK"

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) Review


History, and memory, have been exceptionally kind to the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre (and yep, that's how they spelled "chain saw," as two words).

In our collective consciousness, Leatherface and his chainsaw have become as iconic as Freddy and his razors or Jason and his hockey mask. And it's all thanks to a goofy and only occasionally scary low-budget horror vehicle that started it all in 1974 (making Leatherface the ancient grandfather of his contemporaries). The story has been widely copied in the following decades: Hippie teens run out of gas and seek refuge at a backwater gas station; too bad a family of psychos are waiting in store for them. (In the last year alone this premise was copied nearly to the letter in both Wrong Turn and House of 1000 Corpses.) Over the years the film would spawn seven sequels or remakes (to date), including versions starring Dennis Hopper and Renee Zellweger.

Chain Saw has a couple of quirky twists, the most amusing being the fact that the Sawyer family serves its victims as barbecue to patrons of the gas station. And of course, Leatherface's home-grown mask isn't exactly made out of cow leather...

Chain Saw also pioneered the "based on a true story" idea. In this case Leatherface is drawn from serial killer Ed Gein, who butchered his mother and made lampshades and kitchen accessories out of human body parts. (Psycho Norman Bates is also based on Gein.) Still, this hardly merits the narration and title card at the begining of the film, which sells them as much more "true" than they really are. If nothing else, Gein lived in Wisconsin, not Texas. Still, the way would be paved for other faux documentaries like The Blair Witch Project. Give Chain Saw credit for directly inspiring, by my count, at least 30 other movies.

The one thing Chain Saw is lacking is any real sense of terror. The biggest problem is that too much of the film takes place in the dark -- not to the point where it's scary or suspenseful, just to the point where it's hard to tell what's going on. A lot of the stalking is funny -- intentionally or otherwise -- which also robs the film of its fright factor. Most notably, one of our heroines is beaten senseless... with a broom. The chainsaw barely comes out at all, and it's most memorable in the end, with Leatherface waving it around like a maniac for no apparent reason (and cutting up his own leg in the process). He's not scary, he's retarded.

But credit must be given where it's due. Director Tobe Hooper made Chain Saw on a shoestring, and it's finally been cleaned up on DVD to the point where the video and audio quality are on par with a typical 16mm production. Hooper and others also offer a commentary track (revealed: original title was Head Cheese), plus the disc offers deleted scenes, a gag reel, and trailers for the original Chain Saw and many of the sequels. For any fan of horror or cinema history, it's a must-own disc, even if the movie isn't aging as well as it should.

Aka The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.



Facts and Figures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Trumbo Movie Review

Trumbo Movie Review

An entertaining film about sobering true events, this is the story of notorious screenwriter Dalton...

Goosebumps Movie Review

Goosebumps Movie Review

Mixing the action, comedy and horror from novelist R.L. Stein's books into a family-friendly package,...

Dad's Army Movie Review

Dad's Army Movie Review

The beloved 1970s British sit-com gets the big screen treatment, although there's been very little...

Spotlight Movie Review

Spotlight Movie Review

This film demonstrates that you don't need guns to make an exciting thriller. Based on...

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

Not the subtlest director working in Hollywood, Michael Bay brings his surging machismo to this...

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

There's nothing clever about this deliberately rude and vulgar comedy, but certain audiences will find...

The Big Short Movie Review

The Big Short Movie Review

Smart and snappy, this comedy is one of the scariest films of the year, using...

Advertisement
The 5th Wave Movie Review

The 5th Wave Movie Review

Also based on the first in a trilogy of post-apocalyptic teen novels, this thriller feels...

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ice Cube and Kevin Hart reteam for a sequel no one really asked for, following...

Room Movie Review

Room Movie Review

One of the most extraordinary films of the year, this drama cleverly weaves in events...

Creed Movie Review

Creed Movie Review

While this film is basically Rocky VII, it's also much more than that, and perhaps...

A Perfect Day Movie Review

A Perfect Day Movie Review

An irreverent comedy in the style of the original M.A.S.H., this wartime romp takes an...

Partisan Movie Review

Partisan Movie Review

With his feature debut, young Australian filmmaker Ariel Kleiman tells a creepy story about a...

The Revenant Movie Review

The Revenant Movie Review

A wrenching saga of survival and revenge, Alejandro G. Inarritu's new epic is just as...

The Hateful Eight Movie Review

The Hateful Eight Movie Review

Quentin Tarantino is a filmmaker who simply can't be ignored, especially when he lobs a...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.