Home > Movie Review > The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) Review

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) Review

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Tobe Hooper’s classic horror film has become something of a legend in the history of cinema, and a towering pillar of the genre itself. A low budget, gritty, and frightening film about a group of young people being ruthlessly murdered. The scene is set when our main characters are driving through Texas in a camper van, encountering a few bizarre characters on the road, before stopping off at an old house a couple of them had once lived in.

Slowly but surely, one by one, they all eventually wander over to a house that holds a harrowing and disgusting layout of disturbing imagery, topped off by the iconic character known as Leatherface. A crazed, presumably mentally handicapped madman wielding a roaring chainsaw, all the while wearing a horrifying mask. The mask is nothing but an almost blank piece of material that heightens the sense of unease when you look at it.

It’s clear to me that this film was at its most effective in 1974 when it was released. It was banned in the UK for a very long time, which only added to its legend. Now, forty years on, the film seems somewhat tame. In an era of horror where we’ve seen torture porn films like Saw, Hostel and many others, the violence is not very shocking. In fact there’s little actual violence in the film, the graphic stuff really comes from more of the unseen and the ominous visuals. Then there’s the opening titles which claim this was all based on true events which in 2014 we all know to be just another ploy to scare the audience, and nothing more.

I must admit I wasn’t completely bowled over at first, some of the acting isn’t great, and it’s not a very enjoyable film to watch. That is the intention though, and the almost documentary style direction, helped along by the low budget look of the picture, really puts you inside the horror of the situation in parts. It’s an uncomfortable experience, and the hot, sweaty southern day is almost tangible.

The final few scenes are mesmerising, shocking, and absolutely bat shit crazy. My fiancee argued that it was too over the top, and seemed too loose, but that’s precisely what engaged me in the fear factor. I don’t ever get scared by films generally, but the creeped out levels within me were very high to say the least. By the final, haunting yet beautiful shot of the movie, showing Leatherface swinging his chainsaw around wildly as the sun rises, I was sold on why this is held in such high regard.

Leatherface

I didn’t have an enjoyable time watching this, but I certainly thought it was one of the best horror films I’ve seen, and one that captured lightning in a bottle. It’ll never be repeated, though many people have tried.

★★★★½

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