THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE directed by Tobe Hooper (USA, 1974)
I am not an afficiando of horror. I never made it past the first level of ‘Saw ‘and only watched ‘The Exorcist’ when I was well into adulthood.
I like psychological thrillers in the Hitchcock mode but go out of my way to avoid slasher movies or anything linked to Clive Barker. It’s not that I’m particularly squeamish or have a fear of suffering from nightmares. It is simply that I don’t see the point of watching movies where the main aim appears to be push the boundaries of good taste.
All this explains why, at the age of 55, and 40 years after it was made I have finally gotten to see The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (TCM). This movie, along with Driller Killer (which I still haven’t seen!) achieved notoriety when it was released but looks fairly tame now. Once it was banned and branded as a corrupting influence, now I can rent it from local library in a double-DVD box set complete with a booklet praising the film as a classic, groundbreaking work.
In Italian, the movie is called ‘Non Aprite Quella Porta’ (Don’t open that door) but this gormless gang of five young adults are opening doors willy-nilly. They sense danger and walk straight into it.
The cannibal collective are headed by the chainsaw wielding maniac Leatherface who grunts but never speaks and is surprising nifty on his feet. He dispatches four victims so briskly that we hardly have time to feel fear on their behalf. The drawn out torture and taunting of Sally Hardesty is more the kind of sadism we’ve come to take for granted in the modern horror genre.
The claustrophobic impact of TCM comes from its grainy, low-budget production values and the pounding industrial sound effects of the soundtrack. The blood and guts action is relatively mild with the most gruesome details being left to the imagination.
Otherwise it is sick, depraved, sexist and gratuitously violent but what’s new?