Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The (1974)

Reviewed By JonnyAngel
Posted 10/29/99 12:41:20

"Don’t mess with Texas."
5 stars (Awesome)

This film is a classic in every sense of the word. And that is one of it’s biggest problems. Everybody’s heard of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but few people have actually seen it. They dismiss it as some old cheesy 70’s horror movie, when in fact, it is one of the most disgusting, disturbing, and downright diabolical horror movies ever made. In other words, it’s a fucking ride. If you’ve got a weak stomach, make sure you pack your barf bag.

A group of kids set off for a day trip to the country, what they get is a permanent vacation to hell.

The story begins with a van full of teenagers, on their way to visit their Grandfather’s grave (must have been the thing to do in the 70’s), and spend a fun summer day in the country. Unfortunately, they make the timeless mistake of picking up the first psychotic hitchhiker they meet. What ensues is one of the weirdest movies ever made.
I don’t want to go too much into the plot because it’s more fun that way, but it does have a lot to do with the irresponsible use of chainsaws.

Everything about this movie works beautifully and without an overabundance of cliches.

Unlike say Scream, there are no sympathetic characters, no poor little Neve Campbells or misunderstood Fredie Prinze Jrs, none of that. They’re all assholes. I mean, there's a kid in a wheelchair and he's the biggest bastard of them all. You find yourself wanting them to die, but then still feeling bad for them when they do. Overall the acting is pretty good, but for a “scary” movie, it’s damn near Oscar worthy, the villians especially.
One of the best performances though, is that of the killers’ actual house. Talk about horrifying, it makes the house in The Haunting look like Bob Villa’s latest conquest.

The dramatic impact of it all is heightened even more, because unlike every other movie of this type, a lot of the really frightening stuff takes place during daylight. As viewers, it throws you off balance, because everybody knows bad shit only happens at night, right? Wrong. It’s a nice change, and most horror movies couldn’t pull it off, but here, once again, it works beautifully.

But the thing that makes Texas Chainsaw Massacre a truly scary film is the atmosphere, it feels real. And while it wasn’t shot in the style of a documentery, (like a certain “scary” movie a lot of people saw this summer) it definitely has a documentary feel and look to it. The mood is very suggestive and the actual movie is not as gory as it feels. There’s a lot of whacked out, disturbing visuals and set pieces, but violence-wise, there’s not a lot of “penetration” shots. Most of the actual violence is left for your mind to fill in. It's a technique that was used extensively in the above mentioned other “scary” movie (Okay I’ll say it! The Blair Witch Project. Happy now?), and it's very effective here as well.

I hate to compare Texas Chaisaw Massacre with Blair Witch Project because TCM is by far the better, and scarrier, flick. But basically, if Blair Witch scared you, this one’ll make your head spin (please excuse the blatant Exorcist reference).

But hey, maybe you hated Blair Witch, well, me too. That’s why you should check out a movie like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, one that actually lives up to the hype.

Hey mom, pass the headcheese.

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