Friday, October 30, 2015
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Directed by Tobe Hooper and written by Hooper and Kim Henkel, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the story of a group of friends who are traveling to a homestead where they encounter a group of cannibals with chainsaws. The film is a look into a part of Texas that is culturally neglected where a group of young people make a wrong turn that would be one they never wished they took part in. Starring Marilyn Burns, Paul A. Partain, Edwin Neal, Jim Siedow, Gunnar Hansen, Teri McMinn, and narration by John Larroquette. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a wild yet exhilarating film from Tobe Hooper.
The film is a simple story about a group of friends driving through Texas where they would encounter some strange people including a hitchhiker and an old man where they stop by a house where nearby is a home inhabited with crazed cannibals. While it is a film that has a very simple premise, it plays into a world where a lot of crazy things is happening as there is constant radio reports about death in the country where these five people are just trying to escape from all of that. Still, they also want to deal with some strange things that had happened as it relates to some grave robbing as the young woman Sally (Marilyn Burns) wants to know the vandalism in her grandfather’s grave.
The film’s screenplay by Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel doesn’t rely on a lot of plot points nor any real kind of social commentary but rather keep it simple into what is happening. It starts off as this road trip of five people wanting to go to an old house to have a good time but the journey starts off strange where they pick up a crazed hitchhiker (Edwin Neal) which doesn’t go off very well. After stopping at a gas station that has no gas but barbeque, they arrive at the house where they hope to have fun but it’s a decayed place with some strange things. When two of them went searching for a watering hole, they come across this house where things go wrong and sets the tone for what is to come. Even as it relates to a mysterious figure wearing a mask and carrying a chainsaw by the name of Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen).
Hooper’s direction is quite mesmerizing considering not just some of the locations he uses around Texas but also for the intimacy it has in some of the scenes in the vans and places that the characters go to. Shot largely on hand-held cameras with some low-grade film stock, the film does manage to have a sense of beauty in its look while it’s not afraid to look grimy in some parts as it play to some of the scenes set in the van. While Hooper does use some wide and medium shots for some scenes outside of the house, it is his close-ups that are very interesting such as the film’s climax that involves Sally, Leatherface, and some of his companions. The sense of horror is quite graphic as well as containing some very dark-comical elements that play into this world of crazed individuals who are cut off from traditional society as the hitchhiker is someone who hates the way animals are killed for food as opposed the way things used to be. Overall, Hooper creates a very harrowing yet thrilling film about a group of young people who have an unfortunate encounter with crazed cannibals.
Cinematographer Daniel Pearl does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography with its usage of natural lights for some of the exteriors including some low-key lights for scenes set at night including a terrifying chase scene. Editors Larry Carroll and Sallye Richardson do fantastic work with the editing to create some eerie moments in some of the horror that occurs as well as some straightforward cutting to build up the suspense and drama. Art director Robert A. Burns does nice work with the look of the mysterious house Leatherface lives in as it’s filled with bones and all sorts of macabre imagery that play into this stench of death.
The makeup work by W.E. Barnes and Dorothy J. Pearl is brilliant not just for the look of Leatherface‘s mask but also the look of the character itself as it‘s one of the most menacing and crazed characters ever created in horror. The sound work of Wayne Bell and Ted Nicolau is superb for the naturalistic tone of the sound in some scenes as well as the heightened sounds of the generators and chainsaws that play into the sense of terror. The film’s music by Tobe Hooper and Wayne Bell is amazing with its usage of music textures in terms of atmosphere with some unique instruments as well as some eerie string music for the sense of terror as the music would also include some country music in the background.
The film’s brilliant cast include some notable small roles from John Dugan as Leatherface’s grandfather, Jim Siedow as a proprietor who runs a gas station/barbeque house, and Gunnar Hansen in a fantastic performance as Leatherface where doesn’t say much but rather lets his hammer and chainsaw do the talking. Edwin Neal is terrific as the very crazed hitchhiker who freaks out the young people by cutting himself with a knife and comments on butchering as it’s a fun performance to watch. William Vail is superb as the fun-loving Kirk while Teri McMinn is wonderful as his girlfriend in the astrological-loving Pam as they both would be the first to encounter the house where Leatherface lives in. Allen Danziger is excellent as the nerdy Jerry while Paul A. Partain is amazing as Sally’s paraplegic brother Franklin who tries to cope with what is going on. Finally, there’s Marilyn Burns in a phenomenal performance as Sally as a young woman is traveling with her friends to her grandparents home as she deals with all of the chaos as she later becomes entrapped into the world of Leatherface and his family.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a remarkable film from Tobe Hooper. Not only is it a scary and grimy film that isn’t afraid to be dirty but it’s also a fun one that doesn’t just play with traditional horror schematics. It’s also a film that plays into what happens when a group of young people come across some cannibals including one who just loves carrying a chainsaw. In the end, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a sensational film from Tobe Hooper.
Tobe Hooper Films: (Eggshells) - (Eaten Alive) - (Salem’s Lot) - (The Funhouse) - (Poltergeist) - Lifeforce - (Invaders from Mars) - (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2) - (Spontaneous Combustion) - (I’m Dangerous Tonight) - (Night Terrors) - Body Bags - (The Mangler) - (The Apartment Complex) - (Crocodile (2000 film)) - (Toolbox Murders) - (Mortuary) - (Djinn)
© thevoid99 2015
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Really great review. This is such a classic horror that I actually saw for the first time last year!
Thank you. I had a blast watching this. It's so fun to watch as well as the fact that it is horror at its most pure.
You used a great word to describe it: grimy. What a fantastically grimy film this is. A true genre classic.
@Wendell-Indeed. This was fun to watch and I kinda was rooting for Leatherface the whole time.
Great review! This is definitely one of my favorite horror movies and it really rattled me the first time I saw it. For me, seeing the kid in the wheelchair get killed was a massive eye opener. It probably shouldn't have been, but I kept thinking they wouldn't actually "go there."
@Brittani-This is one of the definitive films of horror. It still holds up. I love it.
"...isn't afraid to be dirty..." fucking yes, that is a perfect way to describe this movie. This has always been my favorite horror film, I absolutely adore its dirty sentiment.
@Alex-I hate the way everyone says films need to look good and such but this one didn't need to and I loved it for that. Who says that kind of shit that films need to be clean. Well, I happen to like blood and gore and if anyone has a problems with that needs to fuck off.
Along with Carpenter's HALLOWEEN, this is the perfect scare machine. I remember first seeing this as an impressionable youth and white knuckling it through the entire thing.
@J.D.-That must've been a hell of an experience to see that as a kid. Hell, I remember that Robert Smith of the Cure took his future wife to see that film on their first date. That must've been fun.
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