The review you are about to read is the remnants of a tragedy which befell Serg Beret as he tried to sit through another horrific feature, in particular this week’s feature in the Spooktacular Seventies series. It is all the more tragic that Serg had to step away in order to regain his strength to carry on.
But had Serg carried on for this review, he would call this film a true beginner in a sub-genre beloved the world over known as the slasher film and never would have witnessed the sheer terror that lead him to declare this a horror masterpiece.
For this, Diego Olivares, a fresh faced reviewer from ELAC Campus News, has stepped in to tackle the nightmare. The events of that feature lead to a discovery of one of the most shocking features ever produced on celluloid, Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
Considered one of the most scariest horror films ever made, 1974’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre definitely deserves it place among the top choices of cinematic scary stories. Directed by Tobe Hooper in his feature debut, the film serves as an important milestone in both horror cinema and indie filmmaking which continues to this day.
The film opens with a narrating title card, describing the horrors to come, all the while giving a sense of mystery that helps gives the audience a sense of dread; something all the best horror films do.
After a chilling opening montage showing unearthed corpses being photographed, we find ourselves on a hot, Texas highway where a small group of college teens travel down this road in a green van. They include Sally, and her wheelchair-bound brother, Franklin. They’ve come down to a local graveyard to check on the grave of Sally’s grandpa after reports of grave-robbing have been occurring.
After stopping by there, the kids pick a strange hitchhiker, who’s disturbing actions, which include cutting his hand and Franklin’s arm, forces the gang to kick him out of the van, which results with the psycho leaving a bloody mark on the side of their green van as they speed off.
Running low on gas, they check by a local gas station, which out too. Out of opinions, they stop by Franklin and Sally’s grandparents home to stay for the night. Two of the kids decide to go to near-by water-area for a swim, but strangely don’t return. When Sally’s boyfriend goes to check on their whereabouts, he too doesn’t come back. Their mysterious disappearances cause the siblings to freak out. Unaware to them, their friends have suffered a deathly fate by the hands of hulking killer, Leatherface.
Fed up of waiting, for Sally and Franklin decide to look for their missing through the darken woods as night as now fallen on them. Suddenly, both are surprised by Leatherface, as he, armed with a chainsaw, ruthlessly cuts Franklin to pieces. Horrified to the extreme, a helpless Sally makes a run for it as Leatherface give pursuit through a darken woods.
After a terrifying chase, poor Sally is able to take shelter at the same gas station she had stopped by earlier. She loses Leatherface. However, her feeling of safely quickly ends when the owner of the station kidnaps her, loads her in his truck and drives her back to Leatherface house, not before picking the psychotic Hitchhiker along the way.
It is at the house that they are completely helpless Sally discover that Leatherface, the station owner, and the weirdo Hitchhiker are a family of former slaughterhouse workers-turned-cannibalistic serial killers slash grave robbers, hence the grave robbing from the start of the movie. The final moments of the film are the most disturbing; Sally, covered with pure fear, is forced to sit in a hellish freak show of dinner scene among the psychotic trio and their near-dead grandpa, who they consider a “the best killer ever.”
After a huge mishap, Sally escape and runs out to a nearby road as the Hitchkiter and Leatherface give chase. As the Hitchkiter catches up to her and tries attacking her, he is then ran over by an oncoming semi truck. Leatherface tries to attack Sally, but she escape by climbing on to a passing pick-up. The truck speeds way as Sally screams and laughs as Leatherface is unable to catch up to her. The film comes to a end as Leatherface swings his active chainsaw around in total frustration as the sunrise starts to shine over this. Credits roll.
One of the reasons the film captures the element of a horror film is it’s raw realism. This is all due its documentary-style cinematography, naturalistic acting from it’s unknown actors, and the fact that the film based within reality, unlike most horror films of today. Re-watching this movie for this review reminded me how good horror films can be when their not covered with hyper-styled cinematography and gorgeous cw actors. The in fact that this was done on a low-budget made the film more effective than if it done on a much higher budget, which would been least effective.
As the years go on, the film’s influence continues as many other low-budget horrors such as Halloween, The Evil Dead, and The Blair Witch Project take their inspiration from this 70s horror classic. Sadly though, the film also inspire four sequals, a remake, and prequel to the remake; all of them are terrible. The less you know about them, the better off you are. Trust me.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is of course with out a doubt one of the most scariest and disturbing horror movies of all time.
Next week, Serg returns to review the masterpiece of art horror as young Suzy Bannion heads to an acclaimed dance school in Germany, which might very well be home to a coven of witches and filled with more frights than she will ever know. Let’s join the master Dario Argento and enter his masterpiece, Suspiria.
Film A Week 42: The Spooktacular Seventies- Suspria (1977)
Saturday, October 26th