THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE (1974)
Article 4894 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Tobe Hooper
Featuring Marilyn Burns, Edwin Neal, Allen Danziger
What it is: A brutal nightmare
After encountering a psychotic hitchhiker, a group of friends run short of gas and visit an isolated home in the hope of buying some. They chose the wrong house to visit…
Due to the exploitative title and the movie’s reputation, I could barely watch the screen the first time I saw this one. Even then, I could appreciate that this was one of the most intense and harrowing horror films I’ve encountered. It isn’t the blood and gore that’s extreme (for the subject matter, it’s actually pretty light on that content); it’s the jarring use of sound, the plethora of visual images that project a sense of sickness, decay and decrepitude even when you’re not sure what you’re looking at, the utter sense of hopelessness and dread, and the fact that when the murders do occur, you’re not quite prepared for them. Hooper makes good use of the opening thirty minutes of the movie; though not much is happening (save the incident with the hitchhiker), he uses the time to build the needed sense of apprehension, especially through the use of a continuing radio report about a body-snatching at a graveyard. Reportedly, the actual shoot of the movie was grueling and stress-inducing, and that sense comes across in the finished product. The movie does live up to its reputation, but it’s always a bit exhausting to actually watch it.