The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
May 13, 2022 1:43 PM - Subscribe

Who will survive and what will be left of them?

Five friends head out to rural Texas to visit the grave of a grandfather. On the way they stumble across what appears to be a deserted house, only to discover something sinister within. Something armed with a chainsaw.

Trailer on YouTube

Rated 89% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

** from Roger Ebert - "I can’t imagine why anyone would want to make a movie like this, and yet it’s well-made, well-acted, and all too effective."

Empire Essay - "Once his film starts, it doesn't let up until the fade-out: other horror films are as frightening, but few are so utterly exhausting."

A BBFC case study on refusing to certify the film on its release (and indeed until 1998) and how no cuts could be made to make the film more palatable - "It was noted at the time that the film relied for its effect upon creating an atmosphere of madness, threat and impeding violence, whilst shying away from showing much in the way of explicit detail. This made it very difficult for the BBFC to cut the film into what might be regarded as an acceptable version since there were few moments of explicit violence that could be removed. Even if these elements were cut, it did nothing to alter the disturbing 'tone' of the film. "
posted by slimepuppy (6 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Surprised this wasn't on Fanfare yet.

A true classic for a reason. This is a film where you can feel the heat and grime in every frame. The BBFC case study and their inability to cut the movie to be "suitable" makes sense: there is very little actual blood in the film but it is oppressive from the start and there's an unpleasant texture to the film, from the grainy film stock to the sound design. The nearly 50(!) years since its release has not dulled its visceral impact.
posted by slimepuppy at 1:55 PM on May 13, 2022 [5 favorites]

Streaming (as of this writing) on Amazon Prime Video and Showtime.
posted by box at 1:52 PM on May 15, 2022

Watched this again last night for Halloween. It was DOT Jr's first watch. He was impressed with how much Hooper did with so little. So little money, so little blood.

The "family dinner" scene is brilliant and the I will not let you look away series of closeups on Sally (each closer than the last) is brutal.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:24 AM on November 1, 2022 [2 favorites]

Also, not for nothing but the conventional wisdom has generally been that Franklin was an annoying shit.

Rewatching it yesterday, it kinds felt like his friends were stupid ableist pricks who took him on a "vacation" they knew he wouldn't really be able to participate in, wandered off without telling him where they were going while taking the keys, entered the home of cannibal psychos without being invited, and got nearly everyone (including Franklin) killed, when he was the only one who had sense enough to want to get the fuck out of there.

I mean, he wasn't a pleasant person , but he was also categorically 100% right about everything that pissed him off, so.... yeah.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:25 PM on November 1, 2022 [3 favorites]

There's a Last Drive In with JBB episode about this movie on Shudder. Briggs has written and lectured about this movie extensively. His column in the Dallas Observer features some trivia about the production and They Came, They Sawed is an interview Briggs (under the name John Bloom) conducted with Tobe Hooper.

I actually avoided watching this movie until the Last Drive In episode because I was concerned it would be too brutal for me. I had built it up in my mind to be some unspeakable spectacle. In reality, I found it an enjoyable movie although I'm sure part of it was my fellow horror hound friends were delighted to see my first time watch response.

The family dinner scene is stunning. There's a Belgian horror film titled Calvaire, which pays tribute to that scene.
posted by miss-lapin at 12:35 PM on November 1, 2022

I was encouraged to watch this today by an episode of the podcast Gaylords of Darkness, and there is a lot to chew over. It sits in a really weird place between inept and genius, where gaps in the script actually add to the tension. It is a gritty, grimy, sweaty movie that makes every frame a trial. I think Anthony Hudson called the film an "assault," and he is not wrong.

There has been a lot of ink and pixels spilled about the way the film captures the desperation of doomed rural places that capitalism has decided to sacrifice, but that's only one aspect. I think the Murder Family is one terrible agent of chaos in a world that we expect to make sense. What would normally be weak acting, poor script writing, and frankly offensive characters turns into a terrible pocket world where anything is possible and which Sally and friends wander into to their sorrow. It reminds me of the fiction of Thomas Ligotti and Laird Barron (never mind that they started writing after this film), where one wrong step can take you out of this world into an inexplicable place of horror and wrongness.

I was kind of fascinated in this viewing by the portrayal of Leatherface and Franklin. Leatehrface is a monster but also a victim in his deranged family, and the scene after he murders the third kid where he goes into a parlor and sits down, very dejected, and holds his head in his hands and moans in anxiety that things have gotten very out of hand. Similarly, Franklin, as noted above, is a terrible person who has some cause for his bad attitude, and expresses anxiety at his place in the friend group and the situation they find themselves in.

Lastly, although heraven alone knows what the film was trying to say, Leatherface is an oddly complicated character, hinting at gender nonconformity and an honest aggravation that that these stupid kids and the malignant family won't leave Leatherface alone.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:30 AM on March 19, 2023 [1 favorite]

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