HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Cannibal Club, The
Grasshopper, The
Searching
Human Desire
Climax
Stiff Upper Lips
American Animals
Outlaws
Venom
World on a Wire
Velvet Buzzsaw
Picnic
Dick Dickman, PI
Hunter Killer
30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock, The
Race for the Yankee Zephyr
Boys in the Band, The
Brainscan
T-Men
Blame
Upgrade
Evening with Beverly Luff Linn, An
Fear No Evil
One Cut of the Dead
Rosa Luxemburg
Disobedience
On the Job
Monsters and Men
Survival Run
Crucible of the Vampire
   
 
Newest Articles
He-Maniacs: Ridiculous 80s Action
All's Welles That Ends Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 1 on DVD
Shut It! The Sweeney Double Bill: Two Blu-rays from Network
Network Sitcom Movie Double Bill: Till Death Us Do Part and Man About the House on Blu-ray
No, THIS Must Be the Place: True Stories on Blu-ray
Alf Garnett's Life After Death: Till Death... and The Thoughts of Chairman Alf on DVD
Balance of Power: Harold Pinter at the BBC on DVD
Strange Days 2: The Second Science Fiction Weirdness Wave
Strange Days: When Science Fiction Went Weird
Ha Ha Haaargh: Interview With Camp Death III in 2D! Director Matt Frame
Phone Freak: When a Stranger Calls on Blu-ray
A Name to Conjure With: David Nixon's Magic Box on DVD
Which 1950s Sci-Fi was Scariest? Invaders from Mars vs The Blob
The Empire Strikes Back: Khartoum vs Carry On Up the Khyber
Stan and Ollie's Final Folly: Atoll K on Blu-ray
   
 
  Texas Chain Saw Massacre, The Who Will Survive And What Will Be Left Of Them?Buy this film here.
Year: 1974
Director: Tobe Hooper
Stars: Marilyn Burns, Allen Danziger, Paul A. Partain, William Vail, Teri McMinn, Edwin Neal, Jim Siedow, Gunnar Hansen, John Dugan, Robert Courtin, William Creamer, John Henry Faulk, Jerry Green, Ed Guinn, Joe Bill Hogan, Perry Lorenz, John Larroquette
Genre: Horror
Rating:  9 (from 2 votes)
Review: In this remote area of Texas, there are news reports coming in over the radio that a graveyard has been vandalised and corpses looted and desecrated. Not that this information makes much of an impression on the five young people travelling through the countryside in their van, searching for the resting place of the grandfather of Sally Hardesty (Marilyn Burns) and her disabled brother Franklin (Paul A. Partain). They do track down the grave, but are keen to find the old house where he used to stay as well, so head off in the direction they believe it to be. On the way, they pick up a hitchhiker (Edwin Neal) to rescue him from the heat - their first mistake...

Or was their first mistake undertaking the journey at all? Still one of the most controversial films ever made, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre rivalled Night of the Living Dead six years before for groundbreaking horror, and its sustained assault on the audience, never mind the characters, has passed into legend. It was a film that truly was hell to make, with everyone suffering in desperate conditions, but nevertheless their hardship was worth it as the film was a big hit across the world - well, in the places it was not banned anyway, and still has a fearsome reputation to this day. Tobe Hooper and his co-writer and producer Kim Henkel spent the rest of their careers trying to live up to this; or live it down, for that matter.

Some will tell you that the Mario Bava giallos starting in the previous decade were the inception of the slasher movie as we know it today, others that Alfred Hitchcock got in there first with Psycho, but this film was its own beast entirely. Indeed, it treats the characters as beasts, with Hooper on record as saying the ones who are most abused in this are subjected to the kind of treatment that cattle do in a slaughterhouse, as if the whole story was a "how would you like it?" diatribe against those who prefer not to entertain thoughts of where their burgers come from. So the five hapless young folks are essentially "meat" as the director put it, they just don't know it yet although they will get the point as the film progresses.

It's popular to say that the shocks here were produced without gore, and it's true that the whole experience works with a heightened atmosphere of dread even before the hitchhiker has taken a knife to his own hand for his own amusement. But its not true to say there's no blood, it's just that Hooper doesn't paint the walls red; after all, the first shot of the movie is of a mouldering corpse and there are blood splatters when the violence begins. What it is accurate to say is that the film did not rely solely on special effects in the way a horror movie of the next decade would, probably because this was so low budget it could not afford them, but this led it to be more creative in other methods.

Look at how tribal the art design is, as if the twisted family of cannibals Sally and the rest encounter are so isolated from civilisation that they have become like some bloodthirsty group of savages with their own death-worshipping religion, complete with talismans and idols fashioned from bones. The script plays up the family aspect once the villains are assembled in one place, with the unforgettably obscene Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen), he of the chainsaw, the doting mother: once you notice this macabre parody of traditional values put across, the film reaches a new level of pitch black comedy. It's as if the plot has attained such a level of the fantastically horrible that the only sane - or insane, as Sally finds out - reaction is to laugh.

This can be seen as the natural progression from the old dark house movies of the twenties and thirties, most obviously, well, The Old Dark House as with that too, travellers seek refuge in the middle of nowhere only to be terrorised. Yet with the climate of the state sanctioned violence in the United States of the time, the most they can hope for here is reflected in the ending, surviving the onslaught with body bloodied but intact and allowing the psychological scars to heal in their own time - if they ever do. The style with which Hooper pushes the buttons familiar from your worst nightmares has rarely been bettered, some would say it never really has, but the overriding tone of revulsion, even down to details like the nest of spiders or the dirty rag pushed into Sally's mouth, means that The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is unlikely to reach mainstream acceptance as the raw and classic work that it is. But in a good way. Music by Hooper and Wayne Bell.

[Second Sight's Blu-ray is the best this grotty-looking film has ever appeared, and with its billion or so special features this is truly the definitive way to enjoy it, especially if you've never seen it before.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 2335 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Tobe Hooper  (1943 - )

American horror director who has spent his whole career trying to live up to his electrifying The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. After the similar but not as good Eaten Alive, he directed the miniseries of Salem's Lot, slasher The Funhouse, and blockbuster Poltergeist (despite rumours of producer Steven Spielberg's hands-on involvement).

Then a string of under-achievers: vampire sci-fi Lifeforce, sequel The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, and remake Invaders from Mars led to mostly straight to video or television work: Spontaneous Combustion, Night Terrors, The Mangler and Crocodile. In TV he has directed episodes of Dark Skies and Taken. A remake of The Toolbox Murders went some way to restoring his reputation with horror fans.

 
Review Comments (1)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
George White
Enoch Sneed
Stately Wayne Manor
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Aseels Almasi
   

 

Last Updated: