Who will survive and what will be left of them?The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
is a seminal slasher film by Tobe Hooper
, based on the "true" story
about a group of teenagers traveling
through rural Texas, who happen upon a secluded old house inhabited by the world's most horrifying family — in particular a disturbed young man with an interest in leather masks and amateur butchery. The film was released in 1974.
Hooper initially took his inspiration for the film from the real-life serial killer Ed Gein (who was also the inspiration for Psycho
's Norman Bates, and later for Buffalo Bill of The Silence of the Lambs
) and based the character Leatherface on him.
The film was produced on a budget of $140,000, and Hooper cast mainly unknown actors from the local Texan population. When it was completed, Hooper struggled to find a distributor, due to the graphic depictions of violence (although the film is not nearly
as bloody as its reputation suggests.) The movie was ultimately rated R, instead of the PG rating Hooper had intended.
Despite the controversy it caused, the film was a success and spawned a franchise
This film provides examples of:
- Axe Before Entering: Leatherface cuts his way through a door to get Sally.
- Bad Samaritan: When it seems that Sally has made it into safety from Leatherface in the gas station, its owner bounds and gags her, stuffs her in a bag and brings her to his family's house.
- Bloodless Carnage: For the most part, exceptions being the harm done to hands and Hitchhiker's death.
- Bury Your Disabled: The wheelchair-bound Franklin gets a chainsaw into his guts.
- Car Fu: Nubbins gets Squashed Flat by a truck.
- Chainsaw Good
- Curiosity Killed the Cast: Played as straight as possible, as three of the protagonists meet their end by wandering into the maniacs' house.
- Drop the Hammer: Leatherface bashes Kirk's and Jerry's heads in with a sledgehammer.
- Later, Grandpa tries to kill Sally with a hammer.
- Evil Laugh: An entire sequence in the film just has the family laughing maniacally at the bound Sally's expense.
- Fainting: Sally faints when she sees Grandpa sucking blood from her fingertip.
- Fingore: The finger slicing scene, which was actually done for real, after the blood pumping machine broke.
- Gory Deadly Overkill Title of Fatal Death
- Gory Discretion Shot: Purposefully invoked when Pam is hung on the meathook. Hooper was seeking to cut down violent content to try to get a better rating, so he opted not to show the impalement. Instead, he established her wearing a shirt with no back, emphasized the hook and showed splatters of blood in the room. As he said, "The mind fills in the gaps for you." Other scenes in the film, such as Franklin's murder, make use of this as well.
- Grave Robbing: Hitchhiker's hobbies include unearthing corpses and making grisly art, trinkets and furniture from them.
- Hey, It's That Voice!: The opening narration is voiced by John Larroquette (of Night Court, The John Larroquette Show, and Boston Legal fame). He did the opening narration of the remake as well.
- Laughing Mad: Sally at the end when she makes her escape.
- The Patriarch: Grandpa Sawyer is treated as one, even if his best days are far over.
- Sanity Slippage: Happened for real while filming the infamous dinner scene. The food rotted under the filming lights, and created a horrific smell, combined with the one scene filmed for 27 straight hours in 110 degree weather that it actually drove the actors a bit nuts; the DVD commentary has Gunnar Hansen eerily recounting how he genuinely wanted to kill Marilyn Burns for a few seconds after being ordered to by his "brother." Vietnam veteran Edwin Neal (Hitchhiker) even describes it as worse than anything he went through during the war.
- Screaming Woman: Sally spends the the final third of the film screaming her head off.
- Slasher Smile: Leatherface pulls these of few times. It's little hard to see thanks to the mask but if you look closely when he licks his teeth, you can see that he smirks while doing it.
- Spiders Are Scary: Kirk notices a cluster of Daddy Long-Legs' in a corner of a room, and is spooked.
- Super Window Jump: Sally escapes the maniac's house twice by jumping through a window.
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: This story is actually an amalgamation of three different elements. The famed necrophile/not-quite-Serial Killer Ed Gein, the legendary Scottish cannibal Sawney Bean and his clan (who probably never really existed) and Tobe Hooper's fantasies of mowing down shoppers at K-Mart with a chainsaw while he was trapped in the hardware department by the crush of the holiday crowds.