Face-Off: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre vs. The Hills Have Eyes

This Thursday, families across the United States will be gathering together to celebrate Thanksgiving with some rather massive meals, the centerpiece of which will tend to be the cooked carcass of a turkey. When pondering what sort of Face-Off to feature this week, my mind turned to a couple of the horror genre's most tight-knit families, both of whom we were introduced to in 1970s classics - THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and THE HILLS HAVE EYES.

Their diets may be unorthodox, they prefer human meat over turkey, but their devotion to their blood relatives is undeniable, and these folks never miss a chance to share a meal with family. So let's take a closer look at these two groups of cannibal kin and figure out which one would be better to visit for dinner.

To visit the CHAINSAW family, just take an ill-advised trip down some Texas backroads and you might end up at their pleasant little farmhouse, which has been artistically decorated with cowhides hanging on the walls and furniture made out of human bones and body parts. While waiting for dinner, you can relax on the swing out in the front yard, kick back in an armchair, or play with the chicken in the bird cage.
The HILLS pack lives in a much less convenient location. It requires a long drive through the Nevada desert, where their cave is nestled between the Air Force gunnery range and the old nuclear testing site. The pack shares the Texans' interest in animal hides and bones, they might even make you some bone jewelry, but their only piece of furniture is a makeshift picnic table. You really have to be an outdoorsy type to enjoy staying here.
The Sawyers are the definition of wacky. Although eldest brother The Cook desperately tries to cling to some sort of normalcy, it's just not possible when your younger siblings are the grave-robbing, self-harming Hitchhiker and the hulking, mute, chainsaw-wielding Leatherface, who needs to put someone else's face over his own just to have a personality.
Scarred patriarch Papa Jupiter has earned a reputation as a "devil man", and with a former prostitute he has raised a passel of wild kids out in the Nevada desert. He and his sons, the sleazy Mars and the creepy Pluto, murder and rob people while the dim-witted Mercury acts as look-out. Jupiter's daughter Ruby doesn't want to live this way anymore, but what family doesn't have a rebel?
Dinner with these guys is an utter madhouse. If their special dinner guest starts screaming, the Hitchhiker and Leatherface will start howling right along with them, which causes all sorts of trouble between them and The Cook. Soon the idea of eating is getting tossed aside as they argue with each other and torment their company.
The pack also brings their issues to the table with them, and personally, I would find it very awkward when Papa Jupiter interrupts dinner to rant and spit at the severed head of an enemy while continuing to chow down on the meat. Please, don't chew with your mouth open, and don't talk with a mouthful of food. Despite my complaints, his sons seem to enjoy the show.
Grandpa Sawyer was a legend back in his days of working in the slaughterhouse. With nothing but a sledgehammer, he could kill dozens of cows in just a few minutes. So every once in a while, his grandsons will hand the centenarian a hammer and let him have a whack at the head of a guest. But grandpa has lost a step since his glory days. He's not so good at the head hammering anymore, so this tradition usually just leads to frustration and loss of patience.
If Mercury went to school, he would have been the class clown. Instead, he entertains his family. Chances are that Mercury will do something during any meal to make his loved ones laugh, but the opportunity for his favorite joke only arises when his family has a baby on the dinner table. Mercury likes to make the others laugh by eating the baby's toes... These folks have a seriously twisted sense of humor, but hey, at least they have fun instead of squabbling.
The Sawyers have a clear advantage in a cannibal cooking competition. The family has always been in meat, it's their business. At his gas station, The Cook serves up human barbecue made in his indoor smoker, and over the years his business just grows bigger. In the sequel, we even see him winning a trophy for his chili, and who am I to argue with the results of the Texas/OU Chili Cook-off?
The pack eats humans purely out of desperation. They're struggling to survive out there in the desert, even though they're living there by choice. Their meat is just roasted over an open flame, they don't have access to the fancy appliances the Sawyers do, there's likely no spices or sauces involved, and chances are you'd even be out of luck if you asked them to pass the salt and pepper.
The desert-dwelling folks of THE HILLS HAVE EYES may be the more functional family unit, but the Sawyer men squeak out a victory with their modern living, colorful personalities, and fine cannibal cuisine. You'll have to put up with more bickering at their home than you would at the HILLS family's cave, but at least you'll be in a more comfortable location, and when they turn you into food you'll be delicious.

Do you agree with the outcome of this Face-Off, or would you rather spend Thanksgiving in the Nevada desert than the Texas countryside? Share your thoughts on these two families in the comments below.

Are there any movies or characters you'd like to see go up against each other in a future Face-Off? If so, you can send suggestions to me at [email protected].



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