Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Scariest Moments in the Franchise

Last Updated on April 30, 2024

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Scariest Moments

With a new Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie coming to Netflix next Friday, we here at Arrow in the Head have decided to compile a list of some of the Scariest Moments in the Franchise – and for the sake of fairness, we have made sure to choose at least one scene from every one of the movies. Some of the entries in this series aren’t very popular, but on this list we’re trying to see the good in all of them. Give the Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Scariest Moments in the Franchise list a look below, and let us know what your favorite scary moments in the franchise are by leaving a comment.


In 1974, director Tobe Hooper gifted the world with one of the most intense, terrifying horror films ever made. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (or The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, as shown in the title sequence and on the movie’s copyright) is filled with jaw-dropping moments, with the first scary scene coming early on, in broad daylight. Five young people out driving on a brutally hot day decide to give a hitch-hiker a break from the heat – and instantly regret their decision when this guy (played by Edwin Neal) turns out to be very strange. He has pictures he took in a slaughterhouse, he cuts himself with a knife like it’s a party trick, and it’s clear that if they keep riding with him for very long something terrible is going to happen. Sure enough, the situation falls apart very quickly.


The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is a brilliant sequel, with director Tobe Hooper and writer L.M. Kit Carson increasing the humor while still delivering a movie that is completely nuts. There’s terrific acting performances, awesome gore, incredible production design – and an unexpected but hilarious story of “unrequited love” between Leatherface (Bill Johnson and Bob Elmore) and radio DJ Stretch (Caroline Williams). The sequence where Leatherface and Chop Top (Bill Moseley) raid the radio station is pure nightmare fuel, as Chop Top makes a mess of Stretch’s pal L.G. (Lou Perryman)… but then it takes a turn when Leatherface, tasked with killing Stretch, falls in love with her instead. And starts acting like his chainsaw is an extension of himself…


Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III was a rough production and director Jeff Burr wanted his name taken off of it, but it’s actually a good slasher movie and a solid attempt on New Line Cinema’s part to turn Leatherface into their next big icon as the Elm Street movies were winding down. That plan just didn’t work out. The Leatherface character (played by R.A. Mihailoff, with Kane Hodder handling stunts), now surrounded by a new family that includes Viggo Mortensen, is quite intimidating in this one and does a lot of night stalking. The scariest scene involves Ryan (William Butler) trying to change a car tire while Michelle (Kate Hodge) holds a lantern for him – but she keeps getting distracted by a squeaking sound out in the darkness. We know the squeak is coming from Leatherface’s leg brace as he gets closer and closer…


Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation is a lot of things, but scary isn’t exactly one of them. The movie was written and directed by the first film’s co-writer Kim Henkel, and he didn’t catch lightning in a bottle twice. Next Generation‘s greatest asset is the performance delivered by Matthew McConaughey in the role of Vilmer, one of Leatherface’s relatives this time around. McConaughey put a lot of energy into bringing Vilmer to life, and this is a guy you would not want to cross paths with. When he gets in heroine Renee Zellweger’s face, strangles her, puts a knife to her throat, sticks his fingers in her mouth, screams in her ear – he really is a scary person inside a goofball movie.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre


With their ride running low on gas, Kirk (William Vail) and Pam (Teri McMinn) seek help at a farmhouse – which we’ll find out is the home of Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen). An icon was born the moment this hulking, horrifying character stepped onto the screen and slammed a hammer into Kirk’s head. After Pam finds that this house is full of bizarre works of art made out of human body parts, Leatherface catches sight of the girl and they both let out screams at the same time as he chases her down. She gets caught and placed on a meathook while Leatherface saws up the corpse of her boyfriend. Audiences watching this movie for the first time in 1974 didn’t know what hit them.


Director Marcus Nispel’s 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre certainly gets the adrenaline pumping with its extended climactic chase sequence (it was very clever to set part of this chase inside a slaughterhouse), but Leatherface isn’t the scariest character in this movie. That honor goes to R. Lee Ermey’s Hoyt, who claims to be the local sheriff. In the film’s scariest scene, Hoyt forces a character who witnessed a girl shooting herself in the head to re-enact the suicide, complete with the barrel of a gun in their mouth and their finger on the trigger. Some of Hoyt’s lines are so grotesque and inappropriate that they come off as humorous, but there are times when he gets so intense you expect him to kill everyone right then and there.


The Chainsaw remake didn’t set up a franchise very well, killing off Hoyt and hacking one of Leatherface’s arms off, so they had to make a prequel set in 1969 as the follow-up. R. Lee Ermey’s intensity in the role of Hoyt steals the show once again, and this time he puts brothers Eric (Matt Bomer) and Dean (Taylor Handley) through quite a torturous experience… which he probably would have done anyway, but his distaste for them is increased when he finds out one of them was trying to dodge being drafted for the Vietnam War. Ermey gets to play a twisted variation on his Full Metal Jacket character (and his own real life drill sergeant past) as he deals with these two.


There are questionable decisions (ignoring that the original film was set in 1973) and bad lines (“Do your thing, cuz!”) in John Luessenhop’s Texas Chainsaw 3D, but it’s an entertaining slasher nonetheless. A standout sequence is a chase that includes a flipped van and a visit to a carnival. But the best jumps come when characters venture into the basement of the house the final girl played by Alexandra Daddario has just inherited and find that Leatherface lives down there. Three times Luessenhop provides startling reveals of Leatherface during a basement exploration scene, so choose which time works best for you: when Leatherface attacks the hitcher (who was stupidly left alone in the house despite being a stranger), nice guy Kenny, or the cop.



Leatherface may not be with his family with the majority of this “origin story” from directors Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo (he’s not even Leatherface until the very end), but that doesn’t mean he isn’t surrounded by homicidal maniacs. Locked away in the Gorman House Youth Reformery for several years in his youth, the Leatherface-to-be escapes during a riot. This riot takes up several minutes, and in that time a few of the young patients – Bud (Sam Coleman), Ike (James Bloor), Clarice (Jessica Madsen), Jackson (Sam Strike) – murder staff members and even a couple fellow patients. To be trapped in a place being overrun by violent, disturbed youngsters, as Nurse Lizzy White (Vanessa Grasse) is, would not be pleasant.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre


After being pursued by Leatherface in one of the greatest chase sequences ever put to film, our heroine Sally (Marilyn Burns) is captured by his family and forced to sit at the dinner table with Leatherface, his brothers the Hitch-Hiker and the Cook (Jim Siedow), and their ancient, hammer-wielding, blood-sucking Grandpa (John Dugan). The dinner scene is pure madness, shot and cut in such a way that it seems like Hooper is trying to drive the viewer insane right along with this twisted family. Burns gave one of the most convincing “screaming and crying in fear” performances of all time, and the actors playing her tormentors gave her a lot to play off of. When Leatherface takes a knife to her finger, Hansen even cut Burns for real.

Source: Arrow in the Head

About the Author

Cody is a news editor and film critic, focused on the horror arm of JoBlo.com, and writes scripts for videos that are released through the JoBlo Originals and JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channels. In his spare time, he's a globe-trotting digital nomad, runs a personal blog called Life Between Frames, and writes novels and screenplays.