WHO WILL SURVIVE AND WHAT WILL BE LEFT OF THEM?
One of the most influential horror movies ever made was inspired by the story of notorious serial killer Ed Gein. In spite of a short running time, the story is a bit protracted but simple and very effective, with a bunch of laidback teens on a road trip, encountering the most deranged family in the South. Several sequences are still very unsettling to watch. Tobe Hooper brings a lot to the party, with an innovative visual style; he also uses plenty of humor to make us care for the characters, and that doesn’t go away when the horror sets in. The abominable Leatherface has a shocking first scene, but there’s also something comically pathetic about this 1970s’ answer to Frankenstein’s monster.
1974-U.S. 83 min. Color. Produced and directed by Tobe Hooper. Screenplay: Tobe Hooper, Kim Henkel. Cast: Marilyn Burns (Sally Hardesty), Gunnar Hansen (Leatherface), Edwin Neal (The Hitcher), Allen Danzinger, Paul A. Partian, William Vail. Narrated by John Larroquette.
Trivia: Followed by two sequels, starting with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986), and two prequels (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006), Leatherface (2017)). Remade in 2003 as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The franchise was rebooted, with very clear ties to the original, as Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013).
Last word: “That was the heaviest set I’ve ever been on. It was miserable, really. That added to a part of the chemistry that caused certain behavior. The heat, the smoke and bones are cooking under the hot lights. All of that, it’s kind of like a war dance, American Indian War Dance. You start working at a pace and when everyone is involved equally, something intangible, something metaphysical, is being created when everyone is in the same mind space. And that’s what was going on. I didn’t know that exactly at the time, in the beginning. But about halfway through I started understanding this war dance concept. And at a certain point that energy starts helping you go in the direction you intend to take it in.” (Hooper, Indiewire)