Movie Review- The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Hi Folks,

 

 

I wanted to get this out today before I take a machete to the face, Wall Cat assures me it’s painless though I’m not really clear on how he’d know.

exit polls from my last dinner party

 

Anyway:

 

 

WELCOME TO SHOCKTOBER!

 

 

 

Since I have apparently instilled Machiavelli style fear into your puny blog reading hearts and no one had the cajones to tell me I was wrong;  we are sticking to the original Shocktober film schedule and since it was supposed to be Saturday we’re kicking off with a gory, notorious, classic Slasher a little film called-

 

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

 

We are going to take a moment here to be clear on something, I’m kind of working with the assumption this month that you’ve already watched most of the movies we’ll be talking about so y’know: spoilers spoil things.

 

so do machetes to the face

 

Anyway as I was saying:

 

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

 

Fast Facts:

 

Made in 1974, directed by Tobe Hooper The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is presented as a reenactment of real events. It was made for virtually nothing, and has been banned in its uncut version in several countries on and off as recently as a decade ago.

 

It’s about five friends, who upon hearing about a spate of recent grave-robbing, drive into bumblefuck Texas to make sure one of their grandfathers is still undisturbed. On the way back they stumble into the clutches of the deranged family of cannibals that are responsible for the graverobbing…and a whole lot worse.

 

I'm a threat to the american family

 

Cast:

 

Marilyn Burns- Plays Sally, our Final Girl and indisputable martyr of the film; suffering a host of very real injuries during filming, including a twisted ankle after ACTUALLY jumping through a second story (candy glass) window.

 

This is how you'd feel too if Hooper was directing you

Allen Danziger- Plays Jerry, Sally’s boyfriend who is hands down the least interesting character in the entire movie. About the only unique thing he brings to the film is making me wonder what the New York Jew is doing down there as he’s the only cast member who doesn’t even attempt the accent.

 

Paul A. Partain- Plays Franklin: Sally’s wheelchair bound brother, who’s tagging along on the excursion in order to be extremely irritating and give us plenty of relevant background information about the various methods of killing cattle.

 

god i hate you

William Vail- Plays Kirk, singularly notable for being the first kill and more than a little stupid.

 

Teri McMinn- Plays Pam, Kirk’s girlfriend, astrology enthusiast and the best kill in the movie.

 

Not that it would have mattered: but next time your shirt should probably have a back

Edwin Neal-Plays the Hitchhiker a member of the family of cannibals and a disturbing motherfucker. Neal does and amazing job making the audience uncomfortable.

 

Looks like quite the charmer doesn't he?

Jim Seidow- Plays the Old Man, the patriarch of said family of cannibals and the most normal which is relative but still saying something.

 

Gunnar Hansen- Plays Leatherface. Nuff’ said.

 

The tie totally makes it

Observations

 

“The film which you are about to see is an account of the tragedy which befell a group of five youths, in particular Sally Hardesty and her invalid brother, Franklin. It is all the more tragic in that they were young. But, had they lived very, very long lives, they could not have expected nor would they have wished to see as much of the mad and macabre as they were to see that day. For them an idyllic summer afternoon drive became a nightmare. The events of that day were to lead to the discovery of one of the most bizarre crimes in the annals of American history, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. “

 

This is the opening text for the film, the lead in for the re-enactment. This is fortunately the only allusion to the ‘docudrama’ set up, it sets up the film nicely but doesn’t intrude upon the events of the film itself. There’s something special about the way this movie opens that gets me excited every time I watch it. There isn’t any music, just shrill rhythmic flash bulb sound effects that set the tone for the harsh, matter of fact way this film proceeds.

Yeah...you're fucked

Despite the bans, the title and fearsome reputation TCM has made for itself; there isn’t all that much gore by modern standards and in truth a rather low body count by the same. Most of the more grisly visuals are of long dead corpses or bones most of which aren’t human.

 

There are three very good kills in TCM.

 

  1. Kirk- The first kill of the movie isn’t particularly complicated. He gets bashed over the head by Leatherface with a sledgehammer. It’s the lead up to it that distinguishes it. This is the first time we see the killer and it’s done in dramatic fashion, Kirk stumbling up the ramp falls to all fours and we see his POV in a pan up the front of Leatherface.

Cause it just looks so welcoming

  1. Franklin- The only actual chainsaw inflicted death in TCM Leatherface comes out of nowhere to silence Franklin’s whining and win the affection of the audience.

THANK YOU

  1. Pam gets the best one though; this is by far the most cringe worthy moment in the film. Upon trying to find out what happened to her idiot boyfriend after he wandered into the house of death. Pam gets freaked out by stumbling into a room completely decked out in bones and containing a live chicken (those motherfuckers will get ya) and while trying to escape is scooped up by Leatherface and dragged to the prep room where she is unceremoniously and with proper dramatic pacing, hung up to watch Leatherface dismember her boyfriend with a meat hook through her back.

This is a nice example of the proper use of foreground though

Later we discover through some Jerry bumbling that she was then placed in a meat freezer to bleed out/freeze to death…that blows.

 

Yeah it's gonna get worse

Now this is a slasher movie. That being said stupid behavior from our protagonists is not only expected it’s mandated. The following excerpt of dialogue has been heavily translated by yours truly:

 

Kirk: Hey Pam! We’re in the middle of nowhere Texas and almost had our throats ripped out by an angry redneck hitchhiker not too far from here! Let’s go check out that decrepit old house over there it looks just like the kind of house that would have an angry gun wielding hick inside! Just like that guy at the gas station warned us about. But I bet he’ll be happy to let us borrow some gas for our queer, pinko VW van!

 

Pam: I don’t think we should do that…for all those reasons. I think I may end up hanging on a meat hook and later freezing to death.

 

Kirk: Well we’re going to.

 

Pam: Why? Why can’t we just go back to the gas station later as the weird guy suggested?

 

Kirk: Because I have a penis.

 

Pam: Oh right I’d forgotten.

 

A penis...he has one

Now a lot of the scares in TCM rely heavily on freaking the fuck out of the audience with crazy ass behavior from the family of psychos. Leatherface is a transvestite that wears a mask made of human skin, Grandpa is a disgusting desiccated mummy who gets intimate with Marilyn Burns’ finger in the dinner scene and pretty much everything the hitchhiker does ever creeps me right the fuck out.

He has some major personal space issues

But one of the things about this movie that jumps out at me the most is that there is a surprising amount of badassery in this movie and even more surprising is that it is executed by potential victims.

Marilyn Burns did not have a stunt double; as a result when Sally jumps through plate glass windows to escape Leatherface  not once but twice, Marilyn is the one taking the plunge. When Sally runs through miles of bramble screaming her goddamn head off and generally making this movie look like the door montage from Scooby Doo for twenty minutes, she’s really getting cut up and getting two inch thorns plunged into her skin (there are many reports that a lot of the blood on her shirt by the end of the film is her own.) All I’m saying is…that’s a little more than most Final Girls are willing to do.

She's gonna cut a bitch!

There is also the most badass semi-driver in Texas, he runs over the hitchhiker and throws a pipe wrench, ninja star style at Leatherface, hits him between the eyes and runs right past rescue and out of the movie.

 

Presumably to Mexico where he was showered in women and tequila...or Leatherface chased him down...

 

Final Thoughts:

 

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a high water mark of the slasher genre. It has amazing art production and through the masterful combination of gore, shock and awe scare tactics and insane surrealism  to make you feel vaguely dirty for having watched it and even worse for having enjoyed the fuck out of it.

 

See she's laughing, she's totally cool with it

9 out of 10

 

oh yes  I did.

 

Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go beg Jason for my life so I can attempt to get Stephen King’s IT out to you before November.

 

Please?

 

Your penitent Screamstress,

 

 

 

~Fright Dyke

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