Sunday, October 02, 2011

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1975) #1

Okay it's that time in the year. The weather gets cooler, the leaves begin falling from the tree, and we all begin to dress up in silly little costumes.


It's Halloween soon, and the countdown has begun. So why not celebrate the month of October with my very own countdown. A countdown of the best horror movies. Based on me. I'm sure opinions will vary widely, but I figured I give it a shot, and see just how many I can write about here.

First up is a movie called "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre". The original one that is. Not the remake or the prequel that they made not too long ago. I'm not a big fan of those, and remakes in general. I understand them from a studio's perspective since there is another younger audience out there who may want to see it, and when there's money to be made you can bank that a studio is going to make a remake. After all it's easy money, and the word franchise is a golden ticket for the studios.

But this review is about Tobe Hooper's movie "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre". The original movie that stared Marilyn Burns, and Edwin Neal. I was never a fan of the movie until I re-saw the film with a friend of mine. From that time I became a fan of the film, and have always recommended it as the quintessential horror film of all time.

Now I know some of you out there may not agree, but I'd have to say that the film is a stroll through mayhem and chaos with a bit of dark humor laced within the storyline. Just the beginning of the film sets it aside from all other films. The viewer is subjected to disturbing images of decayed human limbs, and a graveyard monument of two human corpses joined together. We are then introduced to our characters, and their trip degenerates into mayhem from there.

I won't go into the plot since so many people know it already, but what Hooper does here is give us a ride on the wild-side that devolves into madness, and hysteria. He does this so well that we actually care for the protagonists in the film. Hooper slowly manages to bring the madness by the introduction of the "Hitchhiker", and then his family. When you think it can't get any crazier it does, and that’s the movies strength. The film is shot in 16mm and it gives it that documentary or docudrama feel. When the killing begins all bets are off. No one is immune, and all become a victim of the madness that the filmmaker has released.

Some of the scenes when Marilyn is introduced to the whole "chainsaw family" can only be described as a trip into madness. Marilyn Burns plays the scene for all that its worth, and you can feel the terror coming off the screen as the “family” tries to kill her.  The scene is so strong that you will want to pull your head away from the screen and not look, but you are transfixed in the moment and can't. That is what true horror is, and I have to say "Chainsaw..." does that.

So that's why I put it at number one on my horror list. It still scares me, and repulses me at times. It can still shake me and after watching it I feel like I've just gone along with Marilyn to the gates of insanity. Its power is because of Hooper's direction. He has done many films after this, but "Chainsaw" is the one that he hit it out of the park. It's no wonder that it has a place in the museum of modern art. I mean it's a classic in its own right, and you can thank Hooper and his production team for making it a classic.

Simple put it's a classic through and through. The images, the sound, and the feel of the film give it its status. None of its remakes does that or even comes close. What I can summarize is that a few talent individuals got together and made a film that they wanted and they pulled no punches. They were young and hungry back then and they wanted to make something that they thought would sell. Little did they know that they would make a classic that would stand the test of time. Not many films do this, but this film does. That's why it's number one in my book. See it with the lights out, and be prepared to get scared, and thanks Mr. Hooper for making a classic that all filmmakers should aspire to.

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