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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Tobe Hooper

Starring:
Marilyn Burns/Sally
Paul A. Partain/Franklin
Edwin Neal/Hitchhiker
Gunnar Hansen/Leatherface
PLOT-CRUNCH
Five teens on a road trip across Texas stop by an old house and get stalked, tortured and butchered by a family of loonies who confuse humans with Big Macs.
THE LOWDOWN
"My family's always been in meat".- The Hitchhiker

This is one unsettling movie that still holds up today. From the opening snapshots of decaying cadavers to the insane finale, this movie never lets the audience slip from it’s tight grip.

I love the contrast between the colorful hippies (bell bottoms, flashy shirts, crazy sideburns) and the gloomy, deadly surrounding. Leatherface’s first appearance is a deadly uppercut to the audience’s face and even though I have seen this movie many times, it still knocked me out. Even some of the dialogue made me queasy, namely the scene when Hitchhiker explains how they make headcheese…gross. This flick has no humor, tense chainsaw stalking scenes and I must admit is kind of hard to sit through. The actors are all very credible (were they acting?), the violence very realistic and the setting (rooms full of human bones with meat hooks hanging from the ceiling) reeks of death. This is a brutal, no bull horror classic and is not for the faint of heart. Rev up the chainsaw.
GORE
You don’t actually see much gore but it is suggested. Your imagination makes up for what the flick doesn’t show you, therefore making the movie even more effective.
ACTING
The acting is top notch. Marilyn Burns (Sally) must of had years of therapy after shooting this flick, the abuse she suffers in this movie had to be traumatizing, even if it’s just "acting". Paul A Partain (Franklin) plays the annoying wheelchair bound teen excellently. Edwin Neal (Hitchhiker) gave me shivers every time I saw him, specially in the " inside the van`" scene…he comes across as a real psycho…not a caricature…maybe a bit too real. Jim Siedow (old man) gives a deranged, unpredictable performance. His polite way of speaking mixed with his twisted mind, makes him one of the most fascinating characters this film has to offer. Gunnar Hansen (Leatherface) gives a very physical performance and having him behind a mask the whole time doesn’t obtrude his performance. The character definitely comes across.
T & A
Surprisingly, none whatsoever.
DIRECTING
This was Hooper’s first film and he is in top form. Underhand shots, great use of lighting and he definitely knows how to take the audience by surprise. You don’t see the "shock scenes" coming.

He keeps the style to a minimum (almost looks like a documentary) which makes the film 10 times scarier.

Hooper’s other films never equaled his first. I guess when you start on top, you can’t help but go down.
SOUNDTRACK
The score is crude, simple and extremely effective. Sometimes you just hear a few hits on a cymbal…it will send shivers up your spine. We also get a few Texas "howdy" tunes.
BOTTOM LINE
If you thought the 70’s were all about "peace n love"…you were dead wrong. Because of this classic I will never set foot in Texas or look at a chainsaw the same way. The performances really make this movie happen, they’re so honest and true, it really doesn’t seem like acting. The film has a great pace, a stalk scene that doesn’t let you come up for air and a torture scene that will have you squinting your eyes in horror. Don’t watch this one alone…or better yet do and get really spooked.
BULL'S EYE
The original title of the movie was "Headcheese".

When Hooper started production on the film he was going for a PG rating.

The narrator at the beginning is none other than John Laroquette (Night Court the TV show)

This movie cost under 100 000$ to make.

Jim Siedow (The Cook) quote: "In the night scene where I beat her up (Marilyn Burns) in the barbecue shop, at first they tried using these soft rubber clubs, but they didn’t work, looked too fake. We used a real club and it took me a long, long time to try and fake it with this real club. I just couldn't hit her, and it didn’t look right, cause I couldn’t follow through with my swing. Finally someone yelled "hit her!" Marylyn responded, "Hit me", I don't care, let’s get this done. Once I started hitting her and gettin’ into how to do it, it took eight takes before they said, That’s a print, and she just fainted dead away. She was bruised. Oh I laid it on her. I had to.
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2:59PM on 08/05/2010
This film has always been my favorite classic horrorflick. There's just something about this movie. The title itself is pure insanity already. The film has the most effective horror atmosphere ever. The Leatherface of this film has always been one of the only icons which freaked me out. And though it has less gore than the remake, it is way nastier and gruesome and a lot ( and I mean a lot ) more disturbing.
One of those films you have to see for yourself to understand how good it really is.
This film has always been my favorite classic horrorflick. There's just something about this movie. The title itself is pure insanity already. The film has the most effective horror atmosphere ever. The Leatherface of this film has always been one of the only icons which freaked me out. And though it has less gore than the remake, it is way nastier and gruesome and a lot ( and I mean a lot ) more disturbing.
One of those films you have to see for yourself to understand how good it really is.
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7:03PM on 05/29/2010
I'm not a huge horror buff because, for the most part, they just don't scare me that much. This is one of those special films that get under your skin, pretty much from the get-go. But it's those last few minutes, when they reach the highway and oncoming traffic, that made me think "Oh, shit! Regular people!" e.g. me.
I'm not a huge horror buff because, for the most part, they just don't scare me that much. This is one of those special films that get under your skin, pretty much from the get-go. But it's those last few minutes, when they reach the highway and oncoming traffic, that made me think "Oh, shit! Regular people!" e.g. me.
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3:43PM on 01/21/2009
This is the bomb. The acting seemed legit, and everything was wrong with this movie, but in a good way. I loved this thing alot, and I loved the ending. This ending didn't leave you wondering if he was alive, you knew. I loved how it almost felt like a documentary. Classic.
This is the bomb. The acting seemed legit, and everything was wrong with this movie, but in a good way. I loved this thing alot, and I loved the ending. This ending didn't leave you wondering if he was alive, you knew. I loved how it almost felt like a documentary. Classic.
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7:25PM on 10/26/2008

Best In the buisness

Still the best in the buisness as you see as my title this movie was not as gory as you would exspect very little blood as you know. The remakes of this movie sucked compared to this! I am only 18 but after wathing this movie 50 times it's still as scary as the first time i saw it...
Still the best in the buisness as you see as my title this movie was not as gory as you would exspect very little blood as you know. The remakes of this movie sucked compared to this! I am only 18 but after wathing this movie 50 times it's still as scary as the first time i saw it...
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+0
1:28AM on 10/19/2007

Still at the Top

Without question the most disturbing film I have ever seen. Just watched it again the other day for the first time in a long time and it still scared the shit out of me. To agree completely with the Arrow; I'll never look at Texas, chainsaws or hammers the same way ever again, and to this day I am very leary of butchers aprons. No joke.

The first time I saw this movie (at 13) I honestly spent a month trying to convince myself that it wasn't real because I couldn't be convinced by anyone
Without question the most disturbing film I have ever seen. Just watched it again the other day for the first time in a long time and it still scared the shit out of me. To agree completely with the Arrow; I'll never look at Texas, chainsaws or hammers the same way ever again, and to this day I am very leary of butchers aprons. No joke.

The first time I saw this movie (at 13) I honestly spent a month trying to convince myself that it wasn't real because I couldn't be convinced by anyone else. The acting was way way too good. TCM is a masterpiece and will forever remain in my Top 3.
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8:24PM on 10/02/2006

One of the best

Really I think this was the first modern American horror film. It's raw, it's gritty, it's nasty, it's scary as hell.
Really I think this was the first modern American horror film. It's raw, it's gritty, it's nasty, it's scary as hell.
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+0
1:31PM on 12/01/2005
I can recall from my youth that this was one of those movies that was surrounded by a great deal of social revulsion, if you will. There was a great deal of negative publicity which probably played in it's favor more than anything. Just looking at the back panel of the video box sent shivers down my spine and I dared not touch it again for nearly 15 years after first eyeing the case. Such is the effect upon youngsters, I suppose.

When I finally got up the nerve to rent the movie, I
I can recall from my youth that this was one of those movies that was surrounded by a great deal of social revulsion, if you will. There was a great deal of negative publicity which probably played in it's favor more than anything. Just looking at the back panel of the video box sent shivers down my spine and I dared not touch it again for nearly 15 years after first eyeing the case. Such is the effect upon youngsters, I suppose.

When I finally got up the nerve to rent the movie, I still had serious reservations. Turns out it was with good reason.

I was surprised most at the lack of gore and blood, especially after seeing so many 80's slashers. The brutality and sheer madness of the film were the centerpiece here, and they frightened me more than any gruesome special effects and blood ever could. Simplicity works so much in its favor, and I've never seen anything quite like it before or since. It was so effective that I doubt I'll ever need to see it again, although I probably will just to get another glimpse of one among the best of horror movies. Be warned, though, you probably won't want to see this one alone and in the dark (like I did) unless you're prepared for a very restless sleep, if you sleep at all. Then again, isn't that what a horror movie is supposed to do?

Bret
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11:42AM on 09/21/2005
Sometimes it feels like it all started here.

The whole kids-on-the-road chased by mad people far from civilisation thing. No one has ever done it better than Tobe Hooper here on the original TCM, and despite (or perhaps because of?) its age, Texas Chainsaw Massacre remains a yardstick by which all other horror flicks are measured.

It might sound obvious, but its saving grace, its reason to live, is the pure f**king fear it generates. This is a scary horror movie, just like they all should
Sometimes it feels like it all started here.

The whole kids-on-the-road chased by mad people far from civilisation thing. No one has ever done it better than Tobe Hooper here on the original TCM, and despite (or perhaps because of?) its age, Texas Chainsaw Massacre remains a yardstick by which all other horror flicks are measured.

It might sound obvious, but its saving grace, its reason to live, is the pure f**king fear it generates. This is a scary horror movie, just like they all should be. There's a sense of disquiet, a faint nausea, long before anything hideous has actually begun.

But when it does all kick off, it's with the force of a herd of stampeding Texas cattle. Filmed with resolute realism, the story takes a near-documentary tone that pulverises the nerves and plays with the head. It's so effective you'll be convinced you've seen masses of gore and guts - whereas in fact you'll have seen hardly any. You'll be convinced you really saw that meathook thrusting into that girl's back (you didn't) and you'll be damn sure you saw poor Franklin's guts explode all over the screen when Leatherface disembowels him, Texas-style (again, you didn't).

I often wish I could recapture what it felt like to watch TCM for the first time. The sheer, open-mouthed surprise you experience on seeing that first iconic appearance of Leatherface - he slams that metal door shut and you want to wind back to check you actually saw what you think you saw.

Then there's Ed Neal as The Hitcher, a man oozing madness and doubtless smelling of offal. The father figure complaining that he "can't take no pleasure from killin' no more". The surreal terror of Marilyn Burns' capture during the dinner scene, the careering camera and audio work, the abject craziness of it all - the hopelessness that comes with realising these devils are motivated not by sex drive or financial aspiration but by something far scarier - sheer insanity. Then there's Leatherface's mad dance of frustration in the closing sequence. And the way it just ends. Like that. Finish.

TCM - you are a marvel.
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