Just look at the title card above for the late, great Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. This not-so-fresh frightshow from 1974 has spent every year since rotting in the sun, ensuring that it maintains as much of its original grime as possible. In that and pretty much every other regard, Massacre is a huge success, and remains an impressively effective horror film and one hell of a way to put one’s name on the map as a director.
For those who have somehow evaded this one in the 45 years since its debut, it’s a simple case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sally (Marilyn Burns) suspects that her grandfather’s grave may have been impacted in a recent string of vandalisms, so she sets out with a group of friends and Franklin (Paul A. Partain), her paraplegic brother, to check on it for themselves. What would otherwise be a quick stop at their family’s old farmhouse on the way ends up being a one-way ticket on the terror train (no, not that one), destination: A Nasty-Ass Fate.
It’s there that they run into a psychotic family of murderers, including the Leatherface we all know and adore, as lovingly depicted by Gunner Hansen. From the moment they set foot on their property, the audience is already completely strapped in and helpless to do anything but watch as the worst case scenario unfolds.
The rest is, ya gotta admit it, history. TCM endures because it’s grody. Even the otherwise uneventful credits sequence manages to be eerily grotesque, and you can practically smell the gory flashbulb snapshots that precede it. The same can be said for the rest of the movie. You can even smell the sun-bleached concrete roads that lead our hapless friends to their final resting place. You can definitely smell grandpa.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is far from a treat,
But this Halloween would be lacking.
If we all neglected to pull up a seat,
For a meal full of barfing and yacking.
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