The Classics of Horror #9 – The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

When I sat through and played The Texas Chain Saw Massacre last night, my expectations were really high.

Not only is this film about Leatherface and his psycho-cannibal family an iconic horror movie, but I also remembered watching it a few years ago, and being struck by its powerful scenes.

Unfortunately, it didn’t have the same effect on me last time I watched it. Simply, it wasn’t as good as I remembered it to be – or as I wanted to remember it to be, if that makes sense.

You all know the plot of Tobe Hooper’s film, even if you didn’t watch it and that’s because the same plot has been re-enacted in so many flicks since The Texas Chain Saw Massacre came out, in 1974.

A group of five youngsters in a van are travelling to visit the grave of the Hardestys’ grandfather to investigate reports of vandalism and grave robbing. When they run out of petrol, decide to stop in an abandoned property which happens to be located near the house of Leatherface and its crazy family.

Texas Chain Saw Massacre - 2The villains are, by far, the best part of this movie. In particular, Leatherface figures as both an unbeatable monster and a traumatised big kid who is bullied and forced to be evil by his twisted family.

In between the clever madness of Norman Bates and the pure evil of Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees, Leatherface is a complex character which gives compelling results without the need for dialogue or exposition scenes.

Although quite overacted, the other family members – mostly Leatherface’s dad and brother – are effective since they are depicted in a gritty way.

Other than that, though, this horror classic is, in my opinion, a very frustrating film.

The Texas Chain Saw MassacreThe Texas Chain Saw Massacre lacks entirely of compelling ‘good’ characters. The main guys are not only quite disposable, but also extremely annoying, in particular the lead girl who survives at the end. Her dialogue in the last 30 minutes or so consists of constant screams and moans.

I get that Hooper wanted to convey realism through her performance, but her endless stream of yells got to my nerves quickly.

Also, the first 30 minutes are dull and boring, whereas the ending is just laughably bad.

What’s left between 30 minutes of boredom and 30 of frustration is merely 20 minutes of good cinema. In my humble opinion, not enough to list The Texas Chain Saw Massacre among the best horror movies of all time.

Nevertheless, this film fertilised the ground for a very successful sub-genre, whilst keeping room for improvement – eventually, we got The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (this time around with the right spelling) we deserved with the 2003 remake.

All in all, I suggest you to watch this film only if you want to know more about the origin of various horror sub-genres or are interested in checking out for yourself all the classic horror titles. Besides that, I wouldn’t recommend to watch The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

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