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  • Writer's pictureMr. Pat

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

Updated: Jul 19, 2021

The 253rd review overall!

Dear and I are headed to Cedar Point for some Halloweekends action! With that in mind, here’s an earlier release than what you’ve been used to! Today’s movie, I checked out a classic...

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974). Shudder.

I’m going to be completely honest with you, and I understand how that could put me in a tough spot with my readers, but I had never seen this movie before. I can’t really explain why but I figured it was time to change that.

Since I’m honest, anytime I hear about this movie, I immediately think of “That 70’s Show.” Jackie telling Kelso she “doesn’t like Texans!” mixed with her yelling at the screen, “Just shoot him, everyone in Texas has a gun!” Plus, after watching this, I feel like I understand Shawn Presley a bit more. It’s like a perfect snapshot of Texas in one 82 minute movie! Jokes aside, I think everyone knows the story by now, and if they don’t, they know who Leatherface is. The short version, a group of friends on a drive have a chance encounter with a bunch of crazies and it does not end well.

After 45 years, this movie has gotten a reputation. You just look at the title and it implies people being cut up by chainsaws and blood, gore and guts everywhere. While watching, I was really taken aback by how little blood there was. The director, Tobe Hooper, was gunning for a PG13 rating, so most of the violence is done off screen and implied rather than the gore-fest you’d imagine. The other thing that surprised me was how quick it gets to the violence. I’m not talking about what time it happens in the movie, I mean, everything is moving along, everything’s OK, then BAM, it’s just so sudden. One of the dudes illegally walks into Leatherface’s home, after slowly making his way in, Leatherface just appears out of nowhere, smacks him in the head with a sledgehammer twice and kills him. I was expecting more of a cat and mouse game going on, but no, the group of five gets whittled down to one in pretty short order.

I’m sure when it came out, it deserved to be called one of the scariest movies of all time. But me, as a 32-year-old dude, I’ve seen this movie on steroids multiple times, granted those movies weren’t nearly as good as this one, some of them were outright terrible, but the deaths weren’t shocking to me. One thing, however; that REALLY got to me was the dinner scene. I was so freaked out after watching the old man sucking the blood from the woman’s finger, I twitched while watching. The fact that it went on as long as it did made my stomach turn and I was so glad when it finally ended.

I was so freaked out after watching the old man sucking the blood from the woman’s finger, I twitched while watching.

Despite being desensitized by violence in 2019, the movie did have a lot of things going for it. Outside of Franklin, the acting ranged from pretty to very good. Leatherface’s family straddled the sweet spot of insane weirdos and annoying insane weirdos pretty well. Although they flirted with that line, they didn’t cross over into annoying. The atmosphere was really good too. It’s shot in such a way that it just looks gritty, almost like an old documentary crew was shooting it. It’s really adds to the effect, if it looked polished and pretty it wouldn’t be the same. The movie pretends to be a true story and the grimy look of the footage helps with the illusion.

I was reading about the backstory on the filming of this movie, and dear God does it sound awful. While shooting, they were dealing with 100 degree heat minimum. The houses didn’t have air conditioning or fans, so for that dinner scene, the group are in a tight room, full of dead animals, rotting food and strong body odor. The man who played the grandfather hated the five-hour process of getting into his makeup and refused to go through it again. So he wore it for 36 straight hours and when they shot that scene, he was smelling RIPE. Several members of the cast got sick and some passed out. A lot of people suffer for their art, but damn, these people REALLY suffered.

It’s not the scariest movie in the world, but it’s worth a watch because it’s a good movie and pretty influential all these years later. Ridley Scott says this movie is what inspired to him make Alien, and without that, we wouldn’t have Aliens.

8 Dr. Chainsaws!

Read more about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre from Rotten Tomatoes!

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