HMM Day 30 – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

You know what’s important? Family. Family is the thing that will always remain constant. When life gives you lemons… it will be your family that will help you make lemonade. I’m a father of three and recently my wife and I have been having a few conversations regarding the time we spend together as a family. You see the news, you know about the shit that goes on with younger generations! Kids are running rampant and becoming more rebellious. Sooner or later if we don’t nip this in the butt then our kids will be out there shooting black tar heroine and getting tattoos of Jack Skellington on their ass! Do we really want to be grandparents raising our boys own children while he pursues some degree in graphic design or communications? So it only makes sense that we as devout and loving parents do our best to help raise our children in a way that makes them future contributors to society.

We have been doing some investigating. Ways to better produce a fruitful relationship with our kids. One thing that we have learned is to always, always eat dinner together as a family. It’s amazing the amount of communication people do during those moments at the dinner table. Listen and be aware of what they’re doing in life. Try to discover what teachers they are currently sleeping with in between history and math class. What drugs they shoot up after a night vandalizing retirement homes. Figure out what kids are bullying them. This way you can all as a family drive to their homes and cripple their parents legs. You can make it a family event! But come on people! These are real important matters that must be discussed so we can all be on the same page. So spend time with your kids. Eat dinner together and do some real bonding like my favorite and most loving family in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre!

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a 1974 film directed by Tobe Hooper and stars Marilyn Burns, Paul A. Partain, William Vail, Allen Danziger, Teri McMinn, Gunnar Hansen as Leatherface, Edwin Neal as Nubbins and Drayton Sawyer as Drayton. The film was made on a budget of $80,000 and filmed in a town near Round Rock, Texas. None of the actors were well known and only had experience working in commercials or local television. Hooper developed the idea for a movie that would incorporate isolation, the woods, and darkness. But also demonstrate certain themes like the myth of the American dream, corporate takeover and… being vegetarian. The movie is loosely based on the 1957 killings by “The Plainfield Ghoul,” Ed Gein. A murderer and grave robber from Plainfield, Wisconsin who’s deprived actions made him a nationwide phenomenon. Many of the depictions in the movie are also inspired by at the time, recent events in the country and inability for news outlets to remain truthful about things like the Vietnam War.

The movie filmed for a few weeks, seven days a week and nearly sixteen hours a day in high summer of July! The Texas heat slammed the crew and made the shooting next to torture. Hooper was worried about the rating system so he toned down much of the gore and violence so he could… get this… get a PG rating! When the rating system first saw the film it was given a quick “X” rating. After taking out a few scenes and depictions, it was later dropped to a hard “R.” Regardless, the movie opened up on October 1st in American afternoon theaters and used false advertisement of the movie being a true story to garner excitement. The movie was an instant success but was also forbidden in many countries. Critics called it pornographic and evil. With brutal depictions of murder especially on women. To this day the movie is considered the father of the slasher genre and Leatherface alone inspired an entire new genre of monsters and officially kicking off an entirely new age of horror. Although regarded as sick and disgusting, the movie has gone on to be named one of the best known films in cinematic history and remains a cult followed film used as educational references in film school.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

As five friends make their way across the blistering highways of Texas. They come upon a family of savage redneck cannibals that hunt each one of them down! With a chainsaw wielding hulk wearing a mask made of human skin, a masochistic lunatic, a redneck father and one decaying old grandpa… this is one Texas family that you don’t want to be invited over for dinner.

This is it! This is the movie that (in my opinion) started it all. Yes, I know that The Exorcist came out in the 1973 and it is probably the scariest movie of all time. But The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is what first defined my most favorite time period of horror known as the Bronze Age. Without this movie and Leatherface then we wouldn’t have been given Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Fred Krueger or Ghostface. But it really isn’t the first slasher villain to appear on screen or be the first movie to create a character based upon Ed Gein. That owner would go to Alfred Hitchcocks 1960 Psycho! But what The Texas Chainsaw Massacre would do is redefine horror and give people something so vivid and believable that people had to leave the theater. It would draw criticism from all over and help push horror creators to new heights.

Everything we know about Bronze Age horror is declared from the very first title crawl in the beginning of the movie. Just like Star Wars, this movie mimics what the Flash Gordon serials would do before their pictures. Give people a warning or story briefing. But Tobe Hooper would give us something that would be written in stone. The very structure of all slasher films!

”It is all the more tragic in that they were young. But, had they lived very, very long lives, they could not have expected nor would they have wished to see as much of the mad and macabre as they were to see that day. For them an idyllic summer afternoon drive became a nightmare.”

Right there from the beginning we’re given “that they were young.” The thing that sets the stage and would be like an ancient ritual. What would be an “afternoon drive” would become “a nightmare.” The idea that youth in all its glory is suffering because of youth and joviality. They would pay the price and doing so would create a trope that would endure beyond its time. I love this kind of building and how when you look at horror, means so much more than bloodshed and scares. This trope represents that existence of youth is liberty and the world around it tries to keep it contained. These kinds of themes are embedded in the code of horror and will forever strive.

I do find it funny that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is called that, when there is only one death with a chainsaw! The movie is more like The Texas Hammer Massacre because most of the killing is via hammers. But chainsaw does work because it is the most brutal weapon. Kind of like the modern mans sword. Leatherface is awesome and scary as hell. I also give him props because when he does kill someone with a chainsaw, it’s done to Franklin. The one guy that is in a wheel chair! This movie is so balls to the wall that it has no qualms in bumping off the handicapped dude! That is either real sick… or just good old fashion equality.

It does also mean something else. That life and shit that comes with it shows no remorse for anyone. While most people are critical of the movie for its violence against women, I can’t help but see it as the of equal horror lender. Leatherface and the rest of the Sawyer family serve doom and despair to anyone regardless of gender or ability. While everyone focuses on Sally because she is the first real “final girl.” I can’t help but see Franklins death containing more meaning. Let’s just be honest, a fat guy in a wheel chair is a representation of innocence. Franklin is kind of childish and extremely dependable on others in this movie. For a killer to simply massacre him is a statement that certainly was seen as downright risky. But also a possible statement that the American system isn’t necessarily forgiving or merciful. I like that idea and I it wasn’t done again until when Jason kills Mark Jarvis in Friday the 13th Part 2.

The movie is brutal and disturbing but full of an ever growing feeling of suspense. The fact that the title has “massacre” in it creates a foreshadowed suspense. We’re constantly waiting for the massacre to happen because they told us it happens. The exposition builds up calmly and earnestly. Murder doesn’t just appear for the sake of it. Everything accumulates to a moment that is rewarding and awesome. When Kirk enters the house we are in total disbelief. Leatherface comes out and just bashes Kirk in the head and then the carnage keep going and only gets more and more intense. Pam is hooked like a pig for slaughter and watches Kirks body be chopped up. The friends follow in the same manner but we’re forced to scream “DON’T GO IN THAT HOUSE!”

The dinner scene is the most disturbing part and we get close up shots of Sally completely going insane. It all accumulates to Sally being the only one left and instead of dying right away, she is made to suffer. We know her death is coming but hope for her release like it was a quick wind. When she does make a break for it and the killers give chase the suspense leaves our hearts pounding. We just like Sally want to be away from that hell hole.

As Sally is running away and Nubbins is hit by a truck. The only one to actually think through everything is this fat awesomely badass truck driver. Leatherface is coming after him and the trucker merely picks a wrench up and throws it at Leatherface! Knocking the son of a bitch unconscious! I can’t help but laugh my ass off and wonder why know one else thinks this way. Maybe being a trucker makes him accustomed to this kind of shit the world is full of. So unlike the kids that are taken so off guard, the trucker is the only one with the “know how” in dealing with psychos wearing skin masks!

Sally ends up getting away and this enrages Leatherface to where he’s throwing his arms around, dancing madly in anger cause he lost his victim! But where did this smart super hero trucker go? He’s a total badass and needs his own movie where he comes back and beats the shit out of the entire family or something.

I absolutely love this movie and can’t help myself watching it every year. They made a remake in 2003 but it lacked the grit and tone. The movie was more a torture porn and doesn’t feel believable like the original. The original Chainsaw Massacre is a film full of style and atmosphere. It’s scary as hell and done without large amounts of gore. The blood is minimal but where the terror resides is in the suspense of what is coming. The Texas landscape leaves us void of hope and the small country town makes me want to remain where I am. Everything is sweaty and telling you to not touch it. I love the props made from bones which is a homage to Ed Geins house. This movie was the first film to show that monsters are not always great beasts or hellish demons. The real monsters are us humans and they’re waiting to kill us in remote locations we never would imagine. Leatherface and his family still exist. Living and killing, unchecked and unmatched. Waiting for more people to make their way through their door. This is why The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is chosen for day thirty of Horror Movie Marathon!

4 Comments Add yours

  1. I love and hate this movie at the same time. Hate might not be the right word here. For whatever really, this movie as always left this unsettling feeling with me. I don’t know why..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. nscovell says:

      Cause its raw and gritty. The sounds are high treble and not accompanied with background music or artificial sound effects. Its creating fear naturally.


      1. These are facts.

        Liked by 1 person

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