B-Movie Corner: Texas Chainsaw Massacre

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First Posted: 10/27/2014

When Texas Chainsaw Massacre was first released in 1974, audiences really had no idea what they were in for when going to see this film. The sheer brutality and on screen violence, or lack thereof, was more than most could handle at the time. Now with “torture-porn” films and other exceedingly violent horror films, the chainsaw massacre seems tame, but it is most certainly a film that changed the horror genre forever.

The film which follows a family of cannibals who’s most famous member Leatherface runs amok with a chainsaw killing and dismembering a group of teenagers visiting a local farmhouse. The most interesting fact about this film is the lack of on screen violence, despite what audiences perceived as being the most violent film they had ever seen.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre really has a minimal amount of on screen violence and instead much of it is implied instead of shown, as is the trend with most modern horror films. This implication made audiences visualize and almost feel the pain of the characters, which is much more visceral and long-lasting.

The plot of TCM is very basic and now familial to fans of the slasher genre. A group of teenagers decide to visit an old family homestead in the country. Along the way they pick up a strange hitchhiker who decides to mutilate himself in front of them before being kicked out of the van, this act sets the stage for the gritty uncomfortable feeling that permeates this film.

Upon arrival some of them decide to visit a nearby swimming hole mentioned by the oft-annoying Franklin. They find the swimming hole dried up and instead notice another house nearby and decide to investigate. This simple act begins the true horror of the film.

While the real violence of this film is all implied, it is a very gory and dreadful implication with teenagers being hung on meat hooks, dismembered with a chainsaw, pummeled with a hammer, and a variety of other nasty dispatches.

The film has little to no on screen violence due to Tobe Hooper’s desire to attain a PG rating from the MPAA, however that dream was quickly dashed and the film received an X rating before several cuts were made to receive the R rating.

The film boasts a “True Story” stamp throughout, though the film’s real story was based upon infamous killer and grave robber Ed Gein’s exploits whose story also influenced Hitchcock’s classic Psycho.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a film that has garnished a reputation for changing the horror film genre from being about fictional monsters such as Dracula and the Wolfman to real life monsters and imparting a harsh real life feel to horror films. This feeling still holds true in today’s best horror films and for that we can always thank Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

The film also holds up as one that can still scare and shock viewers. Despite what many may see as overused tropes in modern horror films, TCM is still a film that frightens and terrifies new viewers and is highly recommended viewing this Halloween season!

Final Verdict: Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a film that anyone who considers themselves a fan of horror films has seen or must see. It is a film that changed the genre and its effects are still felt to this day. While there have been a number of sequels and remakes nothing will ever compare to the sheer rawness that this film possessed and no film will ever be able to match it. Simply put, watch this film!

Where can I get it? : Texas Chainsaw Massacre is widely available on DVD and Blu-ray in a number of formats from rare multi-disk collector’s editions to standard single disc. You can find this film at any number of retail outlets including: Walmart, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, and Target. It is also available on Amazon, Overstock, and FYE.