Times were tough in the seventies, but never so tough as they were for this van full of teens stranded in Nowhere, Texas. There might not be any gas, but there's an awful lot of BBQ...
As brutal today as it was forty-five years ago, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre evinces every good quality of what we call exploitation film. Shot on location with a minimal budget, there's an everyday quality to much of the film that adds to the nightmarishness once we finally reach the house with bone furniture. Taking place over the course of a single day, the hot, sunny blue-skied Texas summer eventually gives way to an oppressive, steaming night of terror. The violence (particularly against the female characters; no film has weaponized screaming as well, before or since) is still difficult to watch, despite its lack of gore shots or graphic detail. As we see with Tarantino's outsized reputation, the most disturbing thing film can do is make the viewer complicit. This isn't to say that The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is image-light; the Texas vistas are given as much care and attention as the nightmare dinner party that takes up the last third of the film, and you will never forget Leatherface's sudden, liminal, and downright alarming first appearance.
CAST + CREW
Director: Tobe Hooper (Eaten Alive, Poltergeist)
Cast: Marilyn Burns (Eaten Alive, Helter Skelter, Future-Kill)
Gunnar Hansen (Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, Repligator)
Jim Siedow (Hotwire, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2)
CONTENT (spoilered; highlight for warnings)
violence against women, violence against people with disabilities, cannibalism, bloodletting, transphobia
CAREER STATS [on a scale from 1 (least) to 10 (most)]
As dynamic, frenetic, and madcap as slasher film ever got.
Leatherface is pure terror; gore-light, but still brutal.
A screaming hallucinatory madhouse of human meat and pain.
one of my absolute favorite films, but not for everyone.
Halloween, House of 1000 Corpses, Tremors,
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation