The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Reviews
After a series of grave robberies, 2 siblings, Sally and Franklin, drive out to Texas to see if their Dad's grave was robbed along with 3 of their friends. Afterwards, they stay at their family Homestead where they get attacked by a family of cannibalistic psychopaths. One of them named "Leatherface" has a mask on and is always silent.
The camerawork is well-done. The film is shot like a documentary. Several conversations throughout the film feel like a character was being interviewed. Since the film infamously called itself a true story (which it wasn't), the documentary style camerawork made it all the more believable. It gave the film an unsettling sense of realism. Also, there are other shots later in the film which provide feelings of desperation and hopelessness. There are several close-ups on a characters eyeballs where tears can be clearly seen. These shots are just disturbing. Also, there are a few close-ups on the antagonists' faces. If a movie overdoes this, it can be annoying after a while, but since the movie didn't abuse this, I found them to be disturbing as well. Finally, there's the impressive final shot which gives you a dazzling composition of the sun and some great lighting to go out on.
The acting is really good. I especially have to hand it to Marilyn Burns (Sally), because she gave the best performance in the film by far. Near the end of the film, there is a lot of screaming and crying. It's really hard to do this well. I bet that most other actresses wouldn't be able to play her part without sounding annoying or over-the-top. However, I can not think of a single time near the climax that I got annoyed with her. Her performance remained solid and convincing. Because her acting remained top notch, the climax continued to engage me. She helped the film to remain terrifying. The other 4 friends accompanying her gave great performances as well. Since Tobe Hooper directed this film to make it feel like a documentary, their acting helped to make the conversations feel like they were borrowed right out of one. Also, Edwin Neal gave a nice performance as the hitchhiker. His performance was really charismatic. Insanity can be a difficult emotion to pull off, because most of the time, actors sound over-the-top when they do it. However, he did a really good job at it.
Despite what the film's title might lead you to believe, there's actually a lot less blood and gore in this film than you'd likely expect. I heard that this is the least goriest film from the franchise. That's another reason why it's so scary. It's able to generate terror from the audience without resorting to excessive bloody violence like many other slasher films do. Near the beginning of the film, it relies on suspenseful buildup and unexpected moments which are very shocking. Also, Leatherfaces' house has really good set design. A lot of work clearly went into it. Near the end of the film, it relies on great acting and camerawork and claustrophobia. It feels highly unlikely that the movie will have a happy ending, and it's hard to watch the ending because of this. It disturbs the viewer greatly.
If you stop reading and look back at my review, you'd see that so far, just about everything which I've praised this film for all contributes to making it one of the scariest films ever made in one way or another. It masterfully utilized numerous horror techniques, and it combined them to make this film work so well.
You likely won't be forgetting your viewing experience with this film anytime soon. However, it takes a while to get to the good parts. This film has pacing issues which painfully slow this film down. These issues come in play for the first half of the film. The audience impatiently waits for the film to pick up as its first half feels very slow-moving. Since the film is barely over 80 minutes, it can be extra tedious for that reason. On my 2nd viewing, I had slightly less of an issue with the pacing, but it still exists for the film.
In conclusion, this is a really great film. It masterfully utilizes several horror techniques to make it one of the scariest films ever made. It's not perfect as its first half has pacing issues. However, it has accomplished a whole lot. I can appreciate it for being one of the main influences for slasher films. It set the standards very high, and it gave other slashers very big shoes to fill. I was originally going to add this film to my watchlist months ago. However, I completely forgot about it. It was only recently when I remembered it. Man, I was sure missing out.
For such a brutally terrifying and gritty slasher it is surprisingly lacking on explicit gore or sex which became staples of the genre. While the reason for this toning down was to try and get a non-R rating it was handled masterfully. By hiding the gruesome parts just outside of direct eye view we become the voyeurs of the hideous crimes. Tobe skillfully has us step foot into the position of the terrorized victim.
The relatively tame first half builds a sense of dread that beautifully accents the second which is an absolute assault on the senses trying to elicit the sense of terror that the main protagonist felt.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is remarkably sparse on music and did not rely on it to build suspense, rather we get blasts of sound after moments of silence as if to emphasize the shock in scenes such as Letherface's first reveal. There was fantastic use of diegetic sound in building a nightmarish sense of realism. One particular scene was very striking with its use of sound when one of the female characters stumbles into the sitting room where bits of human bone and skin are strewn on the floor and attached to the furniture and a hen is inside a cage. The cackling of the hen transformed into sadistic laughter at the horror of the girl which is mirrored later on in the film in the dining scene.
There are problems in the film with its immoderate attack on the senses. The bombardment of audio visuals in the latter half of the film is jarring at first but becomes excessive to a point of annoying. For what seems like an hour we are presented with images of a terrified woman and just ear splitting screams meshed with the roar of a chainsaw which creates a very un-enjoyable sensory experience.
The characters of the family and particularly Leatherface stalked the imagination of generations to come. The frenzied hulking monstrosity chasing the hapless victim which became iconic was matched by the unrelenting second half of the film. The genre's villain has always evolved from monster movies to man being the monster. But since the advent of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre we are presented with a new icon of horror - the silent hidden faced maniac. This spawned a plethora of like minded movies to come but the originality of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre will cement it in the annuals of B-Movie film history.
Texas chainsaw massacre changed the name of the game in horror. Once the reveal of the main antagonist the director did not try to hide his monster in the shadow, there was no haunting or stalking. It was a pure frantic chase with not much pause dementing the viewer. A beautiful moment was the apparent ray of light from the gas station owner, this faux end of the tunnel was merely the conduit to the deeper level of this nightmare. With the hope of escape that flight provided now quashed you are forced into a chair bound in bone to be driven mad by the helpless realisation that this is the time you will die, tormented by a sadistic family and completely alone.
Interestingly this film is very light on character elements. While we are introduced to the story and the some-what hippy characters we are not presented with people we should care about or fully fleshed out identities. This does detract away somewhat from the horrific violence that is about to befall these unfortunate holiday makers. What the film is successful at is allowing us to set foot into the position of the victims. We become the unwilling participants in this massacre, getting lost in the dark, chased by a maniac and tormented in the house of Gein.