Quick recap: Set in Texas, a family of cannibalistic murderers hunt down a group of teens with-what else- a chainsaw.
Fun (?) fact: Gunnar Hansen, who played Leatherface, had only one shirt to wear during the entire four weeks of filming. By the end, none of the cast wanted to sit or be near him because he smelled so bad. Texas Chainsaw Massacre was also shot in the summer in Texas, which to me is the most frightening part.
My thoughts: Like most Texans my age who grew up in a small town, I believed the Texas Chainsaw Massacre to be fact. This was pre-internet mind you, so if someone said it happened there was no way to dispute it one way or the other. Parents would say it didn’t happen but they weren’t too emphatic because after all, it’s a great cautionary tale about the perils of wandering off alone. I saw Texas Chainsaw Massacre when I was in middle school and found it to be pretty lame, as far as horror movies go. Cannibals are scary but a chainsaw carrying maniac just didn’t do it for me. So when it was time to revisit this movie again for the list, I figured that the best way to do so would be on the big screen.
As I settled into my seat, I looked around and saw a great mix of people: guys out with their girls on a date, groups of teens and a few sets of monster aficionados. The show was almost completely sold out and there was an energy buzzing around that made me glad I chose to watch the movie here. The first few minutes of Texas Chainsaw Massacre was much creepier than I remember, starting with a news report about bodies being dug up out of the cemetery and then images of bones and the sun through a harsh red light. Actually, the movie up until Leatherface was sufficiently scary. I really enjoyed the buildup, especially the whole scene with the hitch hiker. I’m not sure how someone outside of Texas would experience watching this movie but the fact that it was ‘local’ made it all the more creepier.
As for the con to the movie, the biggest is that I just wasn’t scared when Leatherface appeared. And actually, as the movie progressed I began to feel sorry for him more than fear him. I also may have cheered when he chainsawed Franklin (the guy in a wheelchair) because that guy was so annoying. It was for the best. The end of the movie with the entire family sitting down for dinner was my favorite, not because it was terrifying but because if you look past the fact that these were cannibals eating barbecued people, what you really had was a nice little family dynamic. Everyone was included, even Grandpa who was some sort of zombie vampire? Leatherface rose to the fancy occasion by donning a nice suit and makeup. Sure it ended with the entire family attempting to murder Sally but at least they bonded doing so.
Final review: 4/5. If I want something scary I won’t choose this, but it’s still a very well made horror film and required viewing for any Texan.
Up next: Ashes and Diamonds