The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

By Brett Mullins

Released: 1974

Directed by Tobe Hooper

After learning of the possible desecration of their grandfather’s grave, Franklin, Sally, and three of their friends embark on a road trip to visit the cemetery. When they arrive, they explore their grandfather’s old farmhouse. The characters wander off and visit a neighboring house where quite a few horrors await. Bad things follow.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a film that cannot easily be placed into any one genre. The audience is presented with an initial tense tone, by way of the opening disclaimer, followed by the typical ‘kids riding in a van to a spooky destination’ set up. This is until the gang picks up a crazed hitchhiker who turns the tone again to very tense. This appears to be the general formula for the plot that is employed rather effectively. By the film’s conclusion, the audience has been blindsided several times and by the conclusion are likely to be left without words for some time.

The film’s effectiveness is derived solely from the atmosphere. The protagonists are rather weak and can be described as annoying at best. One may argue that their vagaries are such that the audience can easily imagine themselves in the situation; however, even if this were the case, a reason to care about what happens to the characters is sacrificed in the process.

TMC features surrealist elements that drives much of the film’s tension. This is best exemplified in the final fifteen minutes of the film, where the audience witnesses the screaming antics of a horrified Marilyn Burns. What the protagonists lack in, well, character, Leatherface and his ilk more than pick up the slack. The intrigue that these characters bring about is what saves the film from mediocrity.

Considering the extreme shifts in tension, it is no wonder why this film is regarded as one of the all time greats of the horror genre.

Rating: 7/10

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