The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Critic Consensus: Thanks to a smart script and documentary-style camerawork, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre achieves start-to-finish suspense, making it a classic in low-budget exploitation cinema.
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Critic Reviews for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
This abattoir of a movie boasts sledgehammers, meathooks and chainsaws, and the result, though not especially visceral, is noisy, relentless, and about as subtle as having your leg sawed off without anaesthetic.
The picture gets to you more through its intensity than its craft, but Hooper does have a talent.
My personal philosophy remains unmoved by skill and prowess when it comes to an idea this drastic. A chainsaw is a cheater's instrument, a device that disrupts all threads of rhythm and psychology.
Nauseated and shaken, I walked out of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre after half an hour of its butchery.
No matter how many filmmakers have attempted to recreate the all-out insanity of "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," very few have even come close.
Morally retrograde it may be, but then so are nightmares. The point is that this one, though often crude and raw, really leads the imagination. What also works in its favour is that it doesn't pretend to do anything more than scare the pants off you.
Audience Reviews for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Tobe Hooper's controversial classic is a landmark stamp in the genre of horror and a step towards the slasher sub genre. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a rare low-budget overnight sensation that produced hysteria and is still a disturbingly entertaining film for audiences then and now. 4/5
While groundbreaking for its time and responsible for establishing many elements of B movie horror, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre doesn't hold up as well as I had hoped. The acting is over the top and as bad as can possible be expected, but it doesn't really hurt the film that much. The camerawork is unique and adds a nice change of direction for the film. The story itself is unpredictable and suspenseful for about half the movie, but as soon as people start getting killed off it degenerates into typical horror fashion until a few twists are presented towards the end. This is actually a pretty tame film by today's standards (it cuts away from any kills when they are happening so you don't see guts and gore), but the way it is presented still makes it seem depraved. The fact that this film was banned back in the 70's is kind of funny. You could say the story is somewhat exploitive, especially towards the end, but nothing made my stomach turn. Overall, it was a solid low budget horror film that is respected due to its influence on the genre and for that I recommend it. Just don't expect it to live up to other classics like Psycho and Halloween.
There have been grosser films: films that are weirder, more upsetting, and bloodier, but undeniably this was the first, and the best, shocker horror film. Though it says in the preface that the events are based in historical fact, none of it really happened. Some of it was based on the exploits of Ed Gein from Wisconsin who also inspired the character of Hannibal Lecter. "Texas" redefined the area of horror dealing with a principle villain, and effectively created the slasher genre. The reason that "Texas" is brutally entertaining is because of the sickening content, but more importantly the ferocity and feral manner of its lead: Leatherface. Leatherface is innocent and yet animalistic, unsure of himself and yet predatory in his actions, making him the perfect killer, and the most lasting character. The first death comes out of nowhere, and from there the elicit story of this strange cannibal family comes to light slowly. These killers have no sympathy for their victims, and they will kill anyone who crosses their path. The final dinner scene is so disgusting and gory that it stays with you in the worst kind of way, making this a mainstay horror classic in every sense of the word.
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