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...Written by
Michael Brooke <email@example.com>
Ranks at #1 in Slant Magazine's Top 100 Greatest Horror Movies of all time. See more »
After Sally has run back to the service station for refuge from Leatherface, there is a broom by the door, which changes position a couple of times during the scene. See more »
The film which you are about to see is an account of the tragedy which befell a group of five youths, in particular Sally Hardesty and her invalid brother, Franklin. 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. The events of that day were to lead to ...
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Opening credits prologue: The film which you are about to see is an account of the tragedy which befell a group of five youths, in particular Sally Hardesty and her invalid brother, Franklin. 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.
The events of that day were to lead to the discovery of one of the most bizarre crimes in the annals of American history, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
Indisbutably a classic of cinema, and not just horror cinema
Those who have posted here comparing Tobe Hooper's (one and only) masterpiece with the dreadful remake are presumably young children with no real understanding of cinema. The 1974 film is the antithesis of the slick, MTV-influenced, cynical cash-in mentality that informed the later remake. The fact that the remake's target teen audience (well, at least some of them) appeared to lap it up is just a sad reflection of how far standards have fallen since the heyday of the horror film in the 70's.
But Hooper's CHAINSAW is more than just a classic horror film. With its print in the permanent collection at the NY Museum of Modern Art, it truly is a classic of cinema. I've shown this to Bergman fans, Tarkovsky fans and, yes, horror fans too - none of them have been prepared for its power, its inventiveness, its willingness to push the envelope of what cinema can do. And, with its simple story and powerhouse, unstoppable delivery, it is as open to interpretation as any piece of "modern art" - whether it be from the "vegetarian treatise" angle, or the post-Vietnam traumatised America school of thought. But, as I was on my first (of several) viewings, those I have introduced to this movie have been bowled over by the quality of the film-making, and the filmic techniques (soundtrack, editing, startling images) used by Hooper to capture his "waking nightmare" on screen. It is something I really don't think any other film has quite achieved, though many have tried.
Now, of course, there is a fluke element at work here. Hooper never came close to achieving anything like this again, and many, though not all, of the film's fascinating resonances are a product of the era and the filmmaker's unconscious sensibilities. What he obviously had as a director was the kind of daring to take the visceral power that cinema can deliver so well to the limit, to the the edge of acceptability, skirting on exploitation. That the film is so unrelentingly dark and so unbelievably sadistic in its second half, and yet fascinates even as it traumatises, is a definite testimony to the skill of its director. What could have been sleaze is instead a horrible nightmare experience, sure enough, but one that borders on the transcendental. Should be seen by ALL students of cinema at least once in their lifetime.
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