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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

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Plot Summary:
"En route to visit their grandfather's grave (which has apparently been ritualistically desecrated), five teenagers drive past a slaughterhouse, pick up (and quickly drop) a sinister hitch-hiker, eat some delicious home-cured meat at a roadside gas station, before ending up at the old family home... where they're plunged into a never-ending nightmare as they meet a family of cannibals who more than make up in power tools what they lack in social skills."

Reviewer: Ben Aslett @horrorasylum
Review Date: 31 October 2001 My Rating: out of 5


# . Well to be honest with you I don't know much about what happened in seeings I was born many years later. There is one thing I can tell you however. In a little town by the name of Roundrock and Austin, Texas, Tobe Hopper was directing a piece of cinematic history. Through that viewfinder of his he was watching one of the greatest films ever to be made unfold. With $, in his pocket, who knew he could bring happiness to so many people worldwide, yet at the same time, shock and disgust just as many. In the world was given... Leatherface. From then on the legacy of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre would be one that no one would be forgetting in a hurry, however hard they tried.

Where do I start? Firstly with some facts. Like Silence Of The Lambs, Psycho and to a lesser extent American Psycho, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was based on notorious American serial killer, Ed Gein. A Wisconsin farmer who, crudely put, had meat on the brain and was one nailed short of a closed coffin. The character of Leatherface wasn't an exact copy of the Wisconsin native but was a slight resemblance to his deranged mannerisms.

From the opening introduction that was so beautifully read by John Larroquette you know that this isn't going to be an ordinary horror film. And just to re-assure that, we are then subjected to what can only be described as macabre. Harrowing images of decaying and dead bodies flashed on screen. That damn symbol bashing in the background gets me every time. This is the real reference to Ed Gein. With the news reporter filling us in on the story you come to the assumption that this is going to be disturbing. Throughout this movie there are many references to dead bodies, first off the dead armadillo, (there are references to this in Leaterface: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre ), the abattoir, and then Leatehrfaces freezer. Chop Top just looks dead in the first place.

From then on we are subjected to a rollercoaster ride of mayhem, anarchy and complete chaos. This lack of conformity is looked over with such precision by Tobe Hopper it's hard to believe that he wanted it to be a PG certification. (It's true; Tobe felt it was within PG standings but the MPAA and the BBFC thought differently).

Let me say a little about the acting. Not in a long time have I seen a film that has such a talented cast. Marilyn Burns turned out a spectacular role as Sally Hardesty, Paul A. Partain (however annoying his character was) played Franklin with all the intensity he could. Lets not forget Gunnar Hansen who put in a brilliant performance as Leatherface.

Nearly devoid of music entirely one begins to wonder if it will diminish the film. You would think that until we meet Leatherface for the first time. After he has wiped out Kirk, there it is, the low, dull drone of insecurity. Which comes back when Pam stumbles in to the room of collections. This seemingly useless piece of music adds so much depth to the scenes you only subconsciously realize it's there.

The deaths of the children are all set in darkness; the slaughterhouse, the woods, all add to the commitment Tobe gave to scaring the viewer witless.

Some would say that this film is boring, has lack of achievement, just because there is limited and, in most cases, implied horror and violence. This film was never supposed to shock and appal the viewer with its horror or violence. It played on raw human emotion and instinct. The sorrow for the teenagers, the ability it had to produce the unexpected yet you knew it was going to happen (just not as distressingly). It was all about prolonged agony; the torture was never over so easily.

Character development wasn't really on Tobe Hopper's mind. This is mainly due to the way he directed the film. Any one character wasn't on screen long enough for us to make in-depth assumptions of their personality, it either switched to another character or that one was killed. Not even Leatherface is seen in much depth until the end of the film. Without making the general notion that Leatherface could be behind the grave robbing's told at the beginning then you would be forgiven for thinking that he is just one tadpole short of a pond. Which of course he is.

This film is full of disturbing imagery and the ending is not short of it. The infamous chase scene. Marilyn Burns appears to be running the marathon she goes so far. But can you blame her as she is being chased by a psycho with a chainsaw (who can run surprisingly fast with all the weight he is carrying). Then we meet the family. Then realise who they are from recognition early in the film. The main aspect of the ending is Sally's pain, and boy does she show it. She shouts and screams so much she must have had a sore throat for days afterwards. There is some great work with the camera in the scene round the dinner table, it closes in on her eyes, shows the anguish on her face and backs off to show her surroundings, the reason why she is in so much agony. At least she gets away. Just.

In my opinion you have to be of above average intelligence to understand every single detail of this film first time round. That said, this film was possibly the stepping-stone for all horror films of the future. The cast is talented and the directing gifted. A must watch for horror fans and a must watch to scare the crap out of any one with a nervous disposition. I have no hesitation in giving this film /. Excellent all round family entertainment.

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