The other day as I was trolling through Horror Amino, I stumbled upon an article that made my skin crawl. The title read; ‘Overrated Horror Films’ and had an image of the classic Texas Chainsaw Massacre poster from the original film. Intrigued and (really) bothered, I clicked on it. And what I read was extremely upsetting to say the least. Now, to preface this, everyone is entitled to their opinions and critiques. However, the reason why this author had listed this film as being overrated was that it involved ‘the main girl screaming her head off’ and ‘it lacked appeal.’
My eye began to twitch as I developed a gnarly headache. I was swimming in a sea of anger. In fact, I still am. Those reasons alone shouldn’t make you call the film “overrated.” This type of critique isn’t a critique at all. One of the (many) things that make my blood boil is when people say they don’t like something and can’t provide a reason as to why.
My name on instagram is Madame.Leatherface---for a reason. Obviously out of the fab four, Leatherface holds a special place in my heart. And for that alone, I am here to provide to you with 5 Reasons Why the Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a Classic:
Any successful horror film that follows the concept of ‘believability’ automatically gets dubbed as terrifying. The thing about TCM is that cannibalism does, in fact, exist. In many different cultures, cannibalism is seen as the norm. The world isn’t a safe place (obviously) and I truly think hillbilly cannibals will eat you. The setting of where it all took place was chilling to say the least. A long naked strip of highway with no access to a phone. Wouldn’t you be worried? And what’s funny is--that’s common! A lot of rinky dink gas stations don’t have access to a phone. You would feel lost and alone on that strip of highway. And if you needed some assistance, you were technically stranded while being at the mercy of the people who live in that area (who want you for dinner). So, in a nutshell--you would be fucked.
2.) On Screen Terror
One of the reasons why this film is a classic is the organic on scene terror. Director Tobe Hooper mentions that; “Marilyn told me about how awful it was for her, because she was terrified... Just being tied to a chair and then having these men looming over her constantly, she said it was really unnerving. I think that whole scene was certainly the most intense part of the movie and I think all of us were slightly insane by then." Acting is one thing, but being truly shaken to the core from a scene while you’re shooting contributes to the terror and that transfers effortlessly to the audience.
3.) No Blood or Graphic Violence
If you truly sit down for a second and watch this classic all the way through, you’ll notice a reoccurring theme--no blood or graphic violence. At the time, Hooper was shooting for a PG rating but we all knew that wasn’t going to happen. Fellow horror director, Alexandre Aja mentions that; "It's the editing, the rawness, the craziness of what you see that makes the experience so intense. Your mind creates what you don't see in the movie and fills in the gaps to see all the 'massacre' that Hooper doesn't actually show on screen." He couldn’t be more correct. This film gives you (the audience) the opportunity to use your imagination. The fact that this movie is horrifying without the ‘massacre’ means that the film got into your head instead of serving it to you on a platter. Well done.
4.) It Makes You Uncomfortable
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre pushes your personal boundaries. Each and every time you watch this film it gives you the chills. Panic and sheer terror are painted amongst the faces of the actors which allows you to connect with how they feel at that moment. Everything from the traumatizing dinner scene where Sally is strapped to a chair, to the unbearable shrieks after someone is left to dangle on a meat hook. Those scenes alone are just enough to make your skin crawl.
5.) Based on True Events
Although people actually believed there was a chainsaw-wielding madman and his family preparing their next meals in Texas, the story behind Leatherface was loosely based on the real-life serial killer Ed Gein. Authorities managed to find human remains on his property. He would make chairs covered in human skin and would craft bedposts made from human skulls. Leatherface who enjoyed wearing the skin of others was pulled from the insane behavior of Ed Gein. There is nothing more terrifying than a slasher loosely based off a real life person. Fact.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre isn’t JUST a slasher film with some girl running around screaming. It’s a classic that fits all the makings of a non-stop horror ride with your imagination behind the wheel. You constantly identify yourself with the characters. You immerse yourself in the story. And you’re wondering how things will play out. You are plagued with worry and terror. Every time I take a drive down some lonesome highway with nothing for miles, I wonder maybe just maybe a chainsaw crazed maniac living with his cannibal family is waiting for me.