Movie Poster
Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Tobe Hooper
Marilyn Burns, Allen Danziger, Paul A. Partain, William Vail, Teri McMinn, Gunnar Hansen
83 min.


Tobe Hooper's Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a vicious little movie. But damn if it isn't good.

Its notoriety owes more to its name (a generic gorefest title if ever there was one) than to its content. When the new Jessica Biel Massacre came out, all the reviewers were quick to point out how little gore was actually in the original. This is tricky. We only once see anyone cut by a chainsaw, and it is Leatherface himself. But don't let that fool you, the movie is fantastically depraved. And the violence, without relying on buckets of corn-syrup-and-dye blood, is intensely visceral. You don't just see it, you feel it. I don't care how many bloodbath movies you've seen, if you've watched knockoffs of Lucio Fulci knockoffs, the two swift hammer blows and the slam of a door the first time we meet Leatherface will make your heart stutter ("Jesus christ" groans some guy in the back of the theater). In fact, the more horror movies you've seen, the more this is unlike anything else.

It is not just brutal, it is sincere, not a single note rings false, and it is surreal. Its like Federico Fellini decided to remake Psycho and spent the entire production on a speed binge without stopping for sleep. But for as bizarre as it gets it always seems true, honest. Like a documentary. When the family sits down to dinner, the tension created is unbelievable, but it has also got more believable, fully-developed characters than most character movies.

The film is simply pitch-perfect from start to finish. And the finish (alongside Beau Travail, which will probably never appear in this spot, but deserves mention, anyway) is one of the best I have yet to encounter in any film ever. How does the cliche go? Often imitated, never bettered? Really nothing (not even the various sequels and remakes) amounts to an identifiable imitation.

Much as I hate to not give it to George Romero, this may well be the best horror film ever made.

Pat Jackson