The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Director: Tobe Hooper
Paul A. Partain/Franklin
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.