PLOT: On a sweltering summer day in East Texas, a handful of friends stumble upon a backwoods family of cannibalistic grave-robbers. Oh, and one of them happens to harbor a serious penchant for chainsaws and women's clothing!
REVIEW: Tobe Hooper's luridly putrid, filth-ridden, sweat-sodden fever-blister of a nightmare THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE is among the best horror films ever made. Period, full stop! But anyone traversing this dark and twisted corner of the net already knows as much. That said, I have a theory on why it's such. The movie is so damn effective because it feels real. Plain and simple. And it feels real because of the dogged, indefatigable sense of commitment to the uncomfortable by all involved. You really get a sense that these aren't merely amateur actors reciting lines and having a good time playing make believe, hell no, these must be real-life psychopaths - living, breathing, sweating, bleeding - while being entrenched soul-deep into a horrifically insane scenario. At least, that's what the grainy 16mm film Tobe Hooper shot happened to capture. These dudes f*cking went for it!
No bones about it, TCM is my all time favorite horror flick. And will always be. Not only is it a frightening five-prong sensory assault of unparalleled measures - sight, sound, scent, taste and touch - I've never seen a flick's subject matter so aptly reflected in its direction. Really. It's a masterclass in more-is-less filmmaking...pure ingenuity as a result of resourceful constraint. The way the film is shot, the humid dusty enclosures and sweaty unkempt milieu - the claustrophobic trappings inside the dingy ramshackle Leatherface abode - the gritty, grimy, grainy docu-style aesthetic....all of it combine to slam you in a specific place and time that feels all too real. All too terrifying. All too inescapable. And to that end, just take a look at the poster's tagline, which reads: "What Happened is True. Now the Motion Picture that's Just as Real." What an accurate assessment. Just as Hooper's deft direction lends a verisimilitude to the onscreen subject matter, it's doubly impressive in its respectful realism toward events that actually occurred under the heinous blade of Ed Gein.
And how about that dinner-table finale? F*ck me! No matter how many times I've seen this sucker, and believe you me I peep it biannually, by the time fercociously fevered family rolls out old grandpa for a celebratory feeding...his desiccated flesh melted over his decaying bones, his feeble extremities quivering as he tries to hold and swing a hammer at poor Sally's dome. Then suddenly, the infantile pig-in-shit elation he shows on his face, thumbs-a-twirling, while he sucks the blood from Sally's freshly opened vein? No matter how often, how prepared I am, by the time all this unfolds in the final reel...I never fail to feel exhausted and spun-out from such a marauding, almost hallucinatory battering. And then of course, I hurry to the shower!
BEST TNA SCENE: One of the all time best booty shots ever laid on celluloid. I'm talking about a long, slow, low-angle tracking-shot following the plumped apple-ass of Teri McMinn crammed in a pair of skintight daisy dukes. Of course, the poor bee-yotch meets her maker mere moments later!
BEST GORE BIT: For as infamous as TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE has remained over the last 40 years...it's almost an entire bloodless film...far more disturbing in its gritty atmosphere and power of suggestion than it is in its graphic depiction of violence. To that end, the gnarly meat-hook scene, in which the burly, squealing Leatherface lifts a poor broad up like a ragdoll and casually hangs her, by her exposed back-flesh, onto a sharp metal hook to dry out like a piece of fresh jerky...yeah, that's a winner! Like the shower scene in PYSHCO, what your own minds fills in is far more alarming than what's actually shown. Brilliant!
HALLOWEEN DRINKING GAME: Take a goddamn swig every time:
- One person is killed in the film
- Every time Leatherface makes a squealing noise
- Every time the word headcheese is mentioned