Absolutely one of the best: challenging, messy, terrifying and bewildering.
The moment when Leatherface first appears out of the metal sliding door, dispatches Kirk without a pause and drags him back into his slaughter room, stays with me primarily for the noise that reverberates on the soundtrack as he then slides the door shut. Even thinking about it now makes my stomach turn to lead. That is the moment when, first time round, I really wanted to turn the film off.
The sound design is brutally affective – percussive and metallic – as are the raw textural nature of the images.
The film’s most powerful weapons are simplicity and a complete lack of explanation: its not about knowing what is it going on and why. Rather, the film puts you through a disturbing and disorientating experience, both in the action and its visual treatment.
Its a shame that it seems to have been such a fluke for Tobe Hooper (Poltergeist aside, what else has he done? Death Trap: cheap and dreadful. The Toolbox Murders: formulaic at best. Mortuary: laughable.)
Brilliantly made, disturbingly demanding and scary as hell, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a cinematic masterpiece and an essay in audience manipulation.
Tobe Hooper achieved something many film directors have strived for through there whole careers in creating a movie that connects with every audience on an visceral level.
Still shocking, unsettling and controversial to this day which is pretty impressive for a film which came out in 1974.
Jonesy the Cat:
Undoubtedly one of the greatest horror movies ever made… In fact, it’s one of the greatest movies ever made regardless of genre.
I couldn’t imagine a world without leather face, a world in which I still felt fine with the idea of picking up hitchhikers, knocking on farm house doors and sampling the local cuisine ‘Head cheese you say? It’s got a delightfully individual taste!’
The sound mix is pitch perfect, the visuals grimy and the script unbeatable. Texas Chainsaw Massacre is often immitated and rarely bettered.
Tobe Hooper went on to direct the equally astounding Poltergeist and the abysmal Crocodile. He is man of fluctuating talent to say the least.
I remember being at school and people talking of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre when it was still banned. No one had seen it, but it was seen us the ultimate in horror.
Years later, after seeing other previously banned horror films, I noncholantly put this in a tape machine. Prepared for another mediocre film with a reputation far exceeding its actual value.
How wrong I was. It was the first film in years to actually scare me – and I loved it.
The simplicity of it; the realness of the violence; the mental torment; the suspense; the performances by the cast. All flawless, making the film one of my top 3 of all time.
The ‘head cheese’ scene mentioned by Jonesy is probably one of the most uncomfortable that I have ever endured. I’m certain that it haunts anyone who watches it.
The ultimate horror experience.
Additional film information: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)