I believe that when it comes to making a great horror film, blood and gore hardly win. A good horror movie is one that can tap into your subconscious mind. One that can create images so frightening that they will stay locked in your memory for a while. That’s why I believed that the best decade of horror classics movies was the 70’s when The Texas Chainsaw Massacre came out. Seeing Texas Chainsaw Massacre for the first time, I have to say that it ranks up there with The Exorcist as one of the most disturbing films I’ve ever since. This movie represents what a
horror movie is all about and this is how it’s supposed to be done. It’s straight to the point, it thrusts you right into the thick of the events, and they happen with no warning. I don’t think anything truly scares me nowadays, it’s more shocking than anything else, and I guess that is how people judge what a scary movie is. This movie is simply in class by itself. If there is a more intense, more brutal movie about murder out there, I’m not sure I want to see it. The main feature when watching this movie knows that it’s based on fact. You can’t
help but feel for the characters, sure you know they are being played by actors and aren’t actually being brutally murdered. However you can’t help being reminded in your mind that the most of the gruesome scenes which are shown have actually happened to someone. This movie explodes out of the gates and it never lets up. It’s as intense as they come, and it was genuinely frightening. This movie is about a group of young teenager traveling through Texas in a van. They plan to visit decrepit home once inhabited by the grandparents of Sally Hardesty (main character) and
her wheelchair-bound brother Franklin. Along for the ride are Sally’s boyfriend Jerry, plus another couple Kirk and Pam. While traveling on a very hot day, they see a hitchhiker and take a pity on him due to the intense heat. They quickly regret this decision, as the hitchhiker turns out to be a twitchy weirdo who gleefully cuts his own hand and also slices Franklin with a razor. He gets the boot from the van, which sets him off even more. The young teenagers then stop to get gas but find out there’s none to be had. They head out to the old house anyway and explore it.
Soon they hear a generator from an adjacent home, so Kirk and Pam go to see if they can score some fuel from the inhabitants. This ends poorly for them, and this starts an experience of terror due to the psycho, chainsaw-wielding Leatherface who wears a mask of human skin. Probably one of the worst scenes that I remember in this film is the murder of the first girl; having attempted to run away from Leatherface, she is grabbed by him and dragged into the slaughter houseroom, where her live body is hung on meat hook. In front of her you see
Leatherface working on the dead body of her boyfriend mutilating it with the chainsaw. This is just one example of many in the film where in breaks through the boundaries of conventional horror. Another part of the film in which you really feel for the character was having been chased a long distance by Leatherface and his chainsaw. Then she finally comes to a man who appears she is safe with, but only to find out he is part of the disturbing family and captures her, where she is being skinned at the dinner table. This scene, the character plays on your emotions even more by
the constant screaming, to which no one can hear. An effective use of camera also helps to sink more fear into you. A close up of her eye, which is moving all the time and staring completely helps to show us how she feels, in a way it puts us in her situation feeling her fear. Another situation feeling her fear is in the same scene, when the youngest member of the family mimicking her cries as he goes on to torture her. It is only by careless moment by this person that lets her escape, but even then it isn’t over. When she runs out of the house, Leatherface
is soon to follow her, chasing with the chainsaw again. What perhaps is also disturbing in this outside shot, is that you can tell it is daylight, having been captured in the dark the night before. So we can only imagine just how long she has been tortured. This movie really scared the crap out of me. I found it very hard to sleep for weeks after I had finally finished the movie. Most of the time, my jaw was wide open in shock. The fact that I thought this was a true story didn’t help. I almost shot myself when I saw Leatherface for the first time. He was so freaky!
What scared me the most was the fact that this weird family was living in an isolated area where no one could hear anyone screams for help. Sometimes in real life, I find myself driving down country lanes and I see farmhouses in the distance and I think to myself, “Please don’t break down here” I’ve never been able to look at a farmhouse in the same way since seeing this film. This is a movie a lot of people do not appreciate then, because people now need a great deal of gore or great special effects to impress them. However if you are a fan of the horror genre, you
can’t help but be amazed by how much this movie has influenced all the horror movies that have come after it. Think about the first Friday the 13th movie, Evil Dead, or more recently like Jeepers Creepers, incorporates pretty much every element, every archetype seen in Texas Chainsaw Massacre: from collecting your victims body parts, to wearing them. Texas Chainsaw Massacre remains a classic because it delivers all these essential horror elements in an unpretentious simple manner with no gimmicks. If you look at the movie from this perspective you will stand a much better chance of enjoying it.