Run Time: 1 hr 23 min
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%/81%
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is an American Horror Classic that is the grandfather of the “based on true events” movie craze that has dominated the horror genre over the last decade or so. This story follows Sally, Franklin, Jerry, Kirk, and Pam as they take a day trip that turns into a complete nightmare! Sally and Franklin are a brother and sister duo that decide they want to travel back to their childhood hometown to visit the grave of their grandfather after hearing reports about grave disturbances in the cemetery. After finding the grave undisturbed, the teens decide to visit their grandparents old, raggedy house in the country and on the way they make the brilliant decision to pick up a very sane looking hitchhiker. After a very awkward exchange in the van, the hitchhiker crosses the line (because having blood splattered on his face and slicing the palm of his hand open is quite acceptable) when he sets a picture on fire and cuts Franklin with a knife; at this point the teens wise up and remove the wacky hitchhiker out of the van and they slowly (and I mean slow as shit) head up the road towards their intended destination. Finally after about 30 minutes of a whole lot of nothing we are introduced to Leatherface! From that point we are subjected to lots of running, screaming, chainsaws, and horror like we’ve never seen before….muhahahaha
Let’s face it, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre will forever be on critics Top 10 Lists of best Horror Movies of All Time and on some level I can completely understand why. At it’s release movie goers were actually shocked at some of the images shown to them on the big screen but in actuality, there was minimal blood shown and none of the murders were shown happening in the film. This is something I really enjoy about this movie, it does not rely on gore but it allows the audience to imagine how each character finally met their demise (and we know our imagine can make things a lot worse than what they really are).
Another great element of this film is the hopeless feeling we get watching our star Sally fight to survive her night of terror. Poor thing! No matter where she turned or where she ran, she could not escape the madness. I mean, seriously, homegirl jumped out of not one but two windows in a attempt to get away! Sally was a survivor, yea she screams a lot…A LOT…. but she never gave up! I really think this character paved the way for future horror movie heroines and their ability to survive until the very end.
Now, I understand this is a horror classic and has established a cult following (especially Leatherface), this movie is not perfect. First and foremost (come close) this movie is NOT BASED ON TRUE EVENTS! There was not cannibalistic family with a chainsaw wielding, mentally handicap brother/cousin that tortured and terrorized five teens. Sorry, but this shit was fiction with a story line that was inspired by a true event. The entire appeal of this film was surrounded around the “fact” that this movie was based on real life events and to know that it was not is a disappointment. No, I’m not disappointed that teens were not horrifically murdered; I’m disappointed that fans were outright lied to in order to fill movie theater seats.
Another critique of this film is that it simply does not hold up 43 years later. When I first viewed this film as a 12 or 13 year old girl, I was freaked out by Leatherface and his odd family. Now fast forward none of your business years later and I found myself more annoyed by the amount of camera time given to a chicken locked in a birdcage versus being shocked by the shenanigans of the cannibal family. There were moments in the film where Leatherface was so close to Sally that he could have spat on her and in the next shot she’s quite a few feet away from him. I could see the actors slow down their pace in order to keep Sally just far enough away from them to keep the suspense going. It was pretty annoying after awhile.
Let me circle back to the shot of the chicken in the bird cage. There was lots of moments where the camera lingered too long on Franklin’s face, Pam squirming around on the floor and Sally’s eyeball. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that was the thing to do in 70’s horror films. That was a way to add to the shock value, however, that is one of the reasons why this film doesn’t really stand the test of time, in my opinion. We’ve been exposed to so much as a society since this movies release that the close up shot of an eyeball has no effect unless you suffer from Ommetaphobia (google it!).
For a Retro Rewind film I would absolutely suggest you watch The Texas Chainsaw Massacre for nostalgic purposes. Now if you’re looking to sleep with the lights on and wake your boo up every 5 minutes because you think you are hearing noises, this movie ain’t it! The best way this Sista Gurl suggests you watch this film is to get a group of friends together and take a shot for every prolonged camera shot on a random item that has very little to do with the progression of the film or for every time a character does a raspberry (google it!) at another character.
Watch at you own risk!