aka: The Devil of Punishment
Director: Tobe Hooper
Starring: Marilyn Burns, Allen Danziger, Paul A. Partain, William Vail, Teri McMinn
Who will survive and what will be left of them?
A group of friends are taking a summer trip down to Texas to visit the grave of Sally and Franklin’s grandfather after hearing reports that there has been vandalism and grave robbing in the area. After they have investigated his grave, they decide to head out to the old family home.
Shortly after they arrive at the old abandoned house, they split up and find out that there aren’t any southern hospitality around these parts. The group of youngsters is put up against a demented family that consider every type of meat, even human, to be edible.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. There’s not that much you can say about this iconic horror movie that hasn’t been said already. To save you time I can say right away that if you haven’t seen this film, then you have been missing out. It is such a big part of cinema history and it is rightfully credited for changing the genre forever.
I guess it is more appropriate to talk about how the movie holds up 40 years after its release, especially now that it has gotten a new theatrical release worldwide, even in my little country Norway. That’s quite special as the film was banned from being shown in cinemas up here during its initial run in the 70’s and even the first VHS release was quickly pulled from stores aswell.
After seeing it again twice in the matter of only two weeks there is no doubt in my mind that this movie still holds up and still delivers. Is it as shocking now as it was 40 years ago? Of course not, but it is still very effective and well made low budget shocker that deserves its reputation and praise.
What works so well in this film is how it plays on the idea that this could actually happen and there is absolutely no reason behind the insanity of the villains. It starts with the “based on true events” intro credits, which has been overused over the years, to the mood and atmosphere of the film. Tobe Hooper’s direction is spot on and watching this again makes me wonder why he couldn’t get a better career going than what he ended up doing after this.
The introduction to the Leatherface character is as great as it is iconic. There’s so much insane brutality going on in this film that it almost becomes absurd. Even if there is some moments during the infamous dinner scene that can cause laughter, it is hard to take in how messed up the situation is for poor Sally.
Sally was played by the recently deceased Marilyn Burns. The terror in her face during this feels so real and the end scene where she looses it leaves you speechless. She had to go through a lot during the filming of this as they didn’t exactly shoot under great conditions, but everything just adds to the end product and she made her mark in horror history with her performance in this film.
Over the years the studios have tried to make Leatherface into a horror character like Jason Vorhees or Freddy Krueger. The problem with that is that even if the character is great, this original film isn’t that much about this single character as it is about being caught in a terrible and meaningless situation. There is no meaning behind the violence, just like there’s no meaning behind real life violence. It’s just nasty, brutal and grim and that’s what The Texas Chainsaw Massacre brought to horror. It’s a classic, it is one of the best. See it, buy it, cherish it.