The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a movie I’ve watched more times than I care to remember.
Horror was a staple in my household growing up, and this has to be one of my absolute favorites.
En route to visit their grandfather’s grave, which has apparently been ritualistically desecrated, five teenagers drive past a slaughterhouse, pick up, and quickly drop, a sinister hitch-hiker, eat some delicious home-cured meat at a roadside gas station, before ending up at the old family home…
where they’re plunged into a never-ending nightmare as they meet a family of cannibals who more than make up in power tools what they lack in social skills. Written by Michael Brooke, IMDb
Before vs Now
With quirks like the old fashioned camera flash slicing through John Larroquette’s narration, setting the macabre mood in the opening scenes, having an entirely new and alien nuance for someone born in the age of digital cameras like myself.
It fascinates me how low of a budget Mr. Tobe Hooper had to make his Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie with less than $140,000. Peanuts compared to today’s multi-million dollar films. Also, the time constraints for filming have undoubtedly added to the isolated panic pulsing through the sleepy Texas landscape.
The movie opens with the desecrated remains of Texas graveyard resident. Setting the tone right away for the horror that awaits our protagonists; Sally & Franklin Hardesty, Jerry, Kirk, and Pam.
On their way to investigate the destruction of several graves in the local cemetery and eager to check on the resting place of their grandfather. Pick up a hitchhiker on the side of the road.
The hitchhiker is one of the antagonist’s families known as the Hewitts, the local slaughterhouse where they all worked was shut down and the other locals fled the area, but the Hewitt’s did not.
Their stubbornness to let go of their old way of life and resentment of outsiders is, in my opinion, a precursor for their murderous and cannibalistic tendency.
The Rise of a Monster
Leatherface, the main focus of the movie is an instantly iconic figure. Standing several feet above Leatherface’s other family members as well as the Hardesty & Co. With a mask of skin roughly sewn and stretched over his face, surely to hide his deformed figure underneath is a nod to the real-life killer Edd Gein. Infamously tanned human skin to use for sewing.
Under the direction of his uncle, the owner of the local gas station and human barbecue stall, Leatherface catches, kills and prepares individual stock for the barbecue. Either with a mallet to the head, as is the case with Kirk left on a hook to drain like Pam.
Alternatively, hacked through the middle with his signature chainsaw like Sally’s brother Franklin.
Dinner is Served
The dinner scene, is in my view, the most powerful scene of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The Hewitt’s, with Sally as their captive dinner guest. Set about recreating an almost parody of the American family.
Sally’s screams in terror only seemed to encourage and embolden the deranged family. The Hewitt’s attempt to goad their otherwise seemingly dead grandfather to bash in Sally’s skull with a mallet while she held off a bucket shows their actions not just to be a necessity but also for enjoyment.
This out of control behavior is what leads Sally to escape with a passing trucker. Her escape backdropped with Leatherface spinning in a fit of rage while the sound of his saw growls the movie to an end.