Retro Review: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

This will conclude my Retro Reviews of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre film series.  The series went downhill with each addition.  The low point was in 1994 with the Next Generation.  The 2003 remake was…not my favorite, but it was not terrible.  When the 2006 prequel to the remake was released, I had a lot of hope for future films.  It took seven years and we got Texas Chainsaw, a film…that was terrible.  If I had to put the seven movies from worst to first, this is how they would stack up.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994)

Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006)

Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

One of the most bizarre horror films of all time.

This is the first movie to ever really get to me.  It was terrifying, from the moment the kids pick up the Hitchhiker, to the very end when Leatherface is going crazy, spinning around waving his chainsaw around in the air.  This is a horror film, period, it still effects people to this day.  The film continues to mess with my head and send chills down my spine.  I go back to when my friend Edgar saw the movie for the first time.  His dreams were haunted by the squealing sounds coming from Leatheface and images of the Hitchhiker, Edgar was 23 at the time.  It quickly got person who was not a fan of horror, watching more and loving the movies I showed him.

It is loosely based on, Ed Gein, serial killer, Wisconsin the 1950′s.  But really the only thing that is similar is what is going on in the house, the bone furniture, the cannibalism and the killing. Otherwise, the story written by Kim Henkel and Tobe Hooper and it takes place in Texas and features a cannibalistic family, rather than a single hermit like Gein.  Hooper actually had a story already developed while in film school, involving the elements of isolation, the woods, and darkness.  He credited the graphic violence by San Antonio news outlets as one inspiration for the film and the cannibalism from the Gein story.  The elements he put together work and even when nothing is happening, there is a feeling of dread around every corner.

The movie is non stop, there are so many iconic moments in this film.  Does that make me sick, thinking the scene were the girl goes into the bone room and runs out of the house and Leatherface grabs her, it is iconic for me.  How about the dinner table scene with grandpa and Sally is strapped to the chair.  When Sally goes to the gas station and gets beaten while having a sack over her body.  There are so many moments in this film that resonate in my mind.  Leatherface slamming the door closed after knocking a guy out with a mallet.  So many moments that just mess you up.

These moments are some of the things I expected to see him the remake, things that seem iconic to me, did not transfer.  Hell, give me the dinner scene, Rob Zombie did one in House of 1,000 Corpses.  Hell, Rob Zombie should have directed the remake, rather than Halloween.

This series takes a huge drop off in the sequels, the quality of the films get worse and worse.  I did like them all for the most part, but the do not stand and have the effect of the original.  It seems a camp element was added although it seems they do try to be serious, I will discuss them further the next few days.  The remakes, oh my, not good.  I really hate the Jessica Biel remake from 2003.  It really seems to be more about different angles of showing off her body, which I didn’t mind that but something seemed to be missing.  Like I said, it may not be a bad movie overall, I just hated it. The follow up which is actually a prequel to the remake, was not too bad, it seemed to borrow elements from the original that were missing, but the film overall still falls short.  See the top of the article for the list.

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Watch the Texas Chainsaw Massacre tonight with someone you love, it can be quiet the experience for anyone, especially someone who has not seen the film.  There are so many horror films out there, but The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one that defines the horror genre.

About Ray Marek III 261 Articles
I am a lifelong horror fan. I have written for a few web sites, Kung-Fu Comrades, Nightfall Unlimited and Rage of Rayzor. Freddy's Revenge was the first Horror Film I watched, I was 5. When my mom found out I liked horror films, she began challenging me. Soon to follow were the likes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Dawn of the Dead. Horror is in my blood, I want to share that with you...my blood...horror. I write unpublished comics. Lifelong dream is to write comics for a major comic book publisher or build my own comic book company.