Pop Junk’s 31 Days of Halloween: #9: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

They certainly don’t make em like they used to.  That’s something you hear a lot and it couldn’t apply more than with this film which hollywood can try and try but they will never recapture the original horror of Toby Hooper 1974 “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”  The Opening of this film alone is so simple and so creepy I couldn’t not let it open up this review.

When I reviewed “Last House on the Left” a few weeks ago I was pretty distracted by knowing I had to wait until the top 10 to talk about Toby Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre because those two movies are very similar in the vein of the 70’s exploitation phase. But it was this movie that did it the best.

This flick follows Sally Hardesty (Marilyn Burns) who hears that the Texas cemetery where her grandfather is buried as been trashed by vandalism.  You know what that means…ROAD TRIP! She gathers her wheelchair-bound brother Franklin (Paul A. Partain) and several other friends together to see if grandpa is resting peacefully. While in the area, Sally and her friends decide to visit the grandfather’s old farmhouse. What they find is a family of homicidal slaughterhouse workers who take their job home with them. Included amongst the brood is Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen), a chainsaw-wielding human horror show who wears a face mask made out of human skin. Sally’s friends are rapidly mutilated one by one by these fun loving neighbors, leaving only Sally left to fight off Leatherface and these homicidal maniacs.

It’s grainy out of date look only adds to enhance viewing today and amidst all the chainsaw smoke and weirdo cannibals is a feel and a tone and it’s pretty fuckin unnerving through out the entire movie.  Like last house on the left this movie feels like a god damn snuff film and nothing like the movies that try and attempt that today. Whenever inside the house or among the killers there’s just a feeling of sustained panic that can not be duplicated.  Not to mention the unmerciful hell that is unleashed on to these teenagers is pretty god damn terrifying without being overwhelming.  Not so much a blood bath but an assault to the senses and that’s what really works about this film.  You’re not really beaten over the head with bloody limbs but lulled to death by the palpable terror of being capture by a pack of homicidal freaks.

By far the best and most disturbing scene comes in the form of a lovely family dinner with the main character tied and tortured by this gaggle of maniacs.  When they decide to finish her off they want dear old grand dad to do it so they stick her head over a bucket and you have to watch as the disgusting looking wheel chair bound old gross dude attempts to budgen this poor girl with  a hammer he barely hold.  The tension of this scene, culminating with the chase scene in the end is just awesome.

The conclusion comes on the street as Sally escapes the clutches of Leather face leaving him dancing in the road with his chainsaw raised in the air for a chilling final shot.  This movie was remade in 2003 and the filmmakers completely missed the point of the original.  It was so saturated with more characters, gore and secondary stories forgetting the simplicity that made this movie work in the first place.  Less is more and in the case of the original, less is WAY more not to mention the real point being these people aren’t monsters, or space aliens or demons, they’re real people and this catastrophe could happen to anyone at anytime.

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~ by ATOM on October 23, 2011.

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