Directed by Tobe Hooper [Other horror films: Eaten Alive (1976), The Dark (1979), Salem’s Lot (1979), The Funhouse (1981), Poltergeist (1982), Lifeforce (1985), Invaders from Mars (1986), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986), Spontaneous Combustion (1990), I’m Dangerous Tonight (1990), Night Terrors (1993), Body Bags (1993, segment ‘Eye’), The Mangler (1995), The Apartment Complex (1999), Crocodile (2000), Shadow Realm (2002), Toolbox Murders (2004), Mortuary (2005), Djinn (2013)]
Six years after the low budget hit Night of the Living Dead, and two years after Craven’s gritty debut, The Last House on the Left, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre follows in it’s predecessors footsteps as a gritty, violent, unforgettable experience.
My problem has always been, though, that I don’t find the experience altogether enjoyable.
So many things about this movie are amazing: Leatherface’s screen presence is off the charts – all his kills are memorable. And his first on-screen appearance still scares the shit out of me. The room with the bones, feathers, and nightmarish furniture was truly horrifying. The chase scenes are tense, and feel quite real (as virtue to the lower-budget, in my opinion). Marilyn Burns does an absolutely amazing job as a woman who has been thrown off the cliff of sanity. And those final ten minutes? Still stands up amazingly to today’s standards.
So given all of those positives, what’s my problem? It stems basically to the fact that while memorable, I just couldn’t enjoy this. It’s gritty, dark, occasionally uncomfortable, and dreary as hell. And sure, while the first thirty minutes are slow (I’ve never been a fan of the hitchhiker scene), my main issue is that I just don’t find this all that enjoyable.
A masterpiece in it’s own right, I recognize the contributions Hooper made to the genre with this flick. But as good as many of the portions are, and as great an actress as Burns was, this isn’t a movie I find myself willingly re-watching all that often. I’d take Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, hell, even Leprechaun, any time over this. A solid movie that stands out a gritty piece of history, but still, I have to give it just below average, which is what I’ve consistently given this flick every time I’ve seen it.
This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil’s podcast, so if you want to hear Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this one, look no further.