Monday, July 8, 2013

Film Review: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Review)
United States/1974
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

Sally Hardesty, her paraplegic brother, Franklin, and three other friends travel to the Hardesty homestead. Along the way, they stop at their grandparents' grave as reports of vandalism surface. Before reaching the homestead, the group pick up a hitchhiker... an eccentric young man that disturbingly cuts himself and Franklin in the vehicle. The hitchhiker, however, is only the first step into a nightmarish night...

I love the story in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre; It is so simplistic yet so terrifying. The hitchhiker scene is truly chilling, a memorable and cautionary moment that happens early in the film; it's neither too violent or overwhelming, which makes it much more realistic and effective. The hitchhiker scene made me think twice of picking up hitchhikers. The film continues with a slow build-up as the characters arrive at their destination and wander the homestead, while Franklin remains concerned of the hitchhiker's bizzare actions; is the hitchhiker following them? Is it possible to follow them to the homestead?

When Leatherface finally appears, he shocks with his disturbing design, his overwhelming size, and a realistic thump to the head of his first victim - no loud music or excessive blood, just raw footage of a realistic attack. The film begins to spiral further into insanity as the death count rises, intense chases occur, and a disturbing family of cannibals is introduced. The violence in the film is memorable, including hooks and chainsaws. The chases are intense since they are very close and realistic; the shouting for help, the panic, it all seems so real. And, the family dinner scene shows some the disturbing characteristics of this family. The ending of the film is abrupt, yet satisfying; there are a few odd decisions, but since it is filled with adrenaline, you may miss or excuse them.

The acting is great from the entire cast. Marilyn Burns' screaming is a bit excessive at times, but she really captures fear, especially with her eyes. Edwin Neal plays the hitchhiker with a very eccentric performance, a very disturbing portrayal. I liked the music and audio editing, really helped create the gritty atmosphere of the film. Tobe Hooper's direction is great, especially with the unknown cast he was working with. The violence isn't graphic, but it feels realistic thanks to the acting and the subtle approach. (Sometimes, showing too much visual violence reveals flaws in makeup and such. The less you see, the more left to your imagination.)

Overall, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a fantastic slasher with many unforgettable scenes - a truly terrifying tale with everlasting impact. I highly recommend a purchase for fans of the genre, a rental otherwise.

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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