The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Dir: Tobe Hooper
Star: Marilyn Burns, Paul A. Partain, Edwin Neal, Jim Siedow

[0] Everyone has heard of this film - even those without any interest at all in gore know the name. I suspect that if Family Fortunes asked the question "Name a film with buckets of blood", this would be well up the list of most people. But you'd be wrong. It is almost totally bloodless. Almost all the violence happens out of shot. True, someone gets hung from a meat-hook. No blood. Someone else is carved up with a chain-saw. No blood. It all happens out of shot. For some reason, it has achieved this reputation of being splattersplattersplatter while barely spilling a drop.

This doesn't mean it isn't a good film. However, it also manages to break the one main rule of horror - you must sympathize with the victims. Now, I don't know what it was like when it came out, but at the screening I saw it at, the audience cheered wildly every time one of the teenagers was murdered - every time Leatherface appeared, there was a round of applause. And I can see why. Sitting here in 1988, I find the victims an entirely unpleasant, unworthy group of leftover hippies who wear such absolutely ridiculous clothes, including the widest flares I think it has ever been my misfortune to see, that they deserve to die.

That's the bad news out of the way. The good news is that there are some extremely impressive touches. In the house, a fully grown hen is crammed into a canary's cage. The chase sequences are excellently managed, despite the ludicrous images of Gunnar Larsen not so much carrying the chainsaw as being led by it as if it was an Alsatian on a leash. A landmark film, no doubt, in that it's influence has been felt down the years by almost every splatter movie director. Homages to it are still being paid now, 14 years later (notably in Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers [British title "Hollywood {PICTURE OF A CHAINSAW} Hookers"], which was a bit gorier, rather funnier and a lot sexier than the original).

Overall, this film should be thought of in much the same way as the Sex Pistols - quite outrageous for it's time, and deserving of a place in history, but looking back at it now, with the benefit of hindsight, you can't help wondering what all the fuss was about...

Chains(aw) of love
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