During the first viewing of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), I was scared to death. Granted, one of my cousins convinced the film’s events were all true. Yes, there are elements of truth within the film, but the film is not a true story. However, if someone believes such when viewing the film, especially late at night, this tends to freak them out. The original feature is one I watched entirely too young for that reason. I did not need to think there were people in the world that sick.
The 2003 remake of the same name is a bit worse. There is far more gore than in the original and more brutality. Some tidbits changed merely because of the technological advances between 1974 and 2003. Despite the excessive amounts of gore added to the feature, the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one of my favorites. As far as horror films go, this is one of the only features that made me want to own both the original movie in addition to the remake.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre starts with pure motives. Sally Hardesty (Marilyn Burns) and her brother, Franklin (Paul A. Partain), decide that they are going to visit their grandfather’s grave. Someone told them that people desecrated the grave via a ritual that took place there. While the ritual is unknown, three of the sibling’s friends, Jerry (Allen Danziger), Kirk (William Vail), and Pam (Teri McMinn) decide that they are going tag along for the trip.
Along the way, the group takes pity on a hitchhiker (Edwin Neal) and allows him to get into the van. Once, the hitchhiker starts talking somewhat crazy and produces a razor blade that he not only cuts himself with but also cuts Franklin. The group forces the hitchhiker out of the van. Although the group stops by a gas station to refuel, they realize the pumps are empty and decide to get gas on the way home.
Soon afterward, they arrive at their location, Franklin speaks of a swimming hole off in the nearby distance, and along with Kirk and Pam, they set out to find the swimming ground. Instead, they run across an old family home and decide not to leave well enough alone. Soon their never-ending nightmare begins as they encounter a family of cannibals who are eager to have them for dinner, but not in the pleasant way most southern families are willing to offer when getting to know a person.
Regardless of how much truth this feature contains, something is frightening about a family of cannibals. Besides, real-life serial killer Ed Gein inspires the film. He also inspired Psycho (1960) and The Silence of the Lambs (1991).
In terms of acting, the film is well-acted. One can say the same about the remake. Burns is probably by far the best actress within the entire movie. Her character goes through pure hell and then some. She endures the insanity that is the family. She also realizes that all of her friends are gone. Leather face murdered them along with her brother. She is the sole survivor of their group.
After viewing this particular film, I could not help but wonder how many years of therapy one had to go through to successfully erase even some of that kind of anxiety from their system. Something tells me that talking out the events were not the only thing needed in Sally’s case. She probably needed pills in addition to her therapy. I cannot even imagine how to continue living after everything she endured.
The other characters in the film give accurate portrayals of those tortured and ultimately murdered. After all, there are moments when these people think they are going to be able to get away, but they are dragged back into the house. To taste the freedom and have it immediately taken away once more would be more than one could bear.
Finally, in terms of acting, one has to mention the acting of Gunnar Hansen. The one and only Leatherface. To have such a large build, but the ability to wield various slaughterhouse weapons as a means to kill and torture those who are unlucky enough to enter the house in the first place is not as easy! While some people feel they can replace Leatherface, his mannerisms make the performances memorable. So anyone who thinks it is crazy to person Hansen is crazy themselves not to.
Ultimately, make sure to take the time to watch the original version The Texas Chainsaw Massacre instead of merely watching the remake. After watching the original, make sure to watch the remake. Note the similarities as well as the differences. Notice how they manage to make it as relevant and frightening as the original. When one can capture such terror twice, there is something to be said about the legend that is Leatherface.
A viewer can also see what happens when someone has a limited budget of $83,532, in comparison to the estimated $9,200,000 for the remake. Besides, and terms of numbers, the original grossed $30,859,000 in the USA, which made the film a significant success at the time. The remake grossed $107,071,655 worldwide, also making it a considerable achievement.
There is a reason the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a classic horror film among horror fans around the world. Join those fans who know the terror of that door opening and slamming shut behind them.