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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Director: Tobe Hooper
Writers: Tobe Hooper, Kim Henkel
Cast: Marilyn Burns, Edwin Neal, Allen Danziger, Paul A. Partain, William Vail, Teri McMinn, Jim Siedow, Gunnar Hansen, John Dugan, Robert Courtin, William Creamer, John Henry Faulk, Jerry Green, Ed Guinn, Joe Bill Hogan
Synopsis: Five friends visiting their grandpa's old house are hunted down and terrorized by a chainsaw wielding killer and his family of grave-robbing cannibals.
MPAA Rating: R for violence, and disturbing images that may not be appropriate for younger viewers.
Documentary of Ed Gein- The Real Serial Killer that Inspired 3 of Hollywood's Greatest Horror Films of All Time
A sadistic tale of horror....
Is it morally wrong to make a film loosely based on real life serial killer? Let alone, make an entire horror franchise in light of such horrific events? I can't really say, as I'm not a psychologist that could answer these questions easily. No, my business is clearly to review the film that was created. Nothing more or less.
Coming into this film, I have to admit I wasn't the biggest fan of slasher horror movies in general. Mainly because most of the stories are universally the same, with interchangeable serial killers. No offense to any die hard horror fan, but if you replaced Mike Myers (Halloween series) with Jason (Friday the 13th series) in a movie, then I honestly would not be able to tell the difference.
However, I have to admit that I honestly did enjoy this movie quite a bit. Not because it's a slasher film that promotes violence, but mostly because of the rare simplicity of the film itself. Unlike some horror films that delve into the psychology of a serial killer, this one just puts the grounded reality of five teens being confronted by a serial killer in the audiences' faces.
We really aren't told too much about the would be serial killer, Leather Face, nor do we ever hear him speak throughout the film. All we do know is that he's a serial killer that's socially inept, and he happens to be part of a family of cannibals. Oh, he also wears a mask made of human skin... Anyways, the story of these five would be teenagers is shocking, and a bit horrifying to say the least. Like Leather Face, we're not really told too much about the teenage protagonists either, but horror of their situation is still portrayed rather well.
We may not know too much about Leather Face, but in a way, that's what makes him even more terrifying. As a wise man once said, the less you know about a person, then scarier that person can be, as it's human nature to fear most what we don't understand.
Although the story itself isn't that complex, as it basically tells how five teenagers who naively stay in an abandoned house by the countryside; only be chased by a chainsaw wielding maniac. However, the movie more than makes up for it's shortcomings with it's almost documentary style cinematography that makes the events seem almost too realistic to fathom. The lighting and sets of the movie play a key role too, as the film is very precise in showing how much of some of Leather Face's atrocities are shown to the audience; while subtly keeping some of the events off camera to make the mind of the viewers wander.
As some horror fans know, the story of this film was loosely based on the real life serial killer, Ed Gein, who also inspired other such horror movies such as "Silence of the Lambs" and "Psycho." Although each of the three films focused on different aspects of Ed Gein's character, it still doesn't diminish how sadistic the man was. As I asked earlier, is it in bad taste that the acts of a serial killer would inspire three of Hollywood's greatest horror movies ever made? And if they're so widely received by both audiences and critics, then what does that say about us as a society? As I mentioned earlier, I'm not in the best position to answer these questions, but they're still worth thinking about.
Or perhaps, I'm probably over analyzing this too much. After all, it's just a movie right? Heck, even the director, Tobe Hooper, admitted that they did exaggerate quite a bit, in "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." For example, Ed Gein never killed his known victims with a chainsaw like Leather Face did. No, according to several documentaries, he shot his two victims with a gun. Although Ed Gein was known to scalp his victims, and wore their human faces as a mask like in the movie; along with wearing female genitalia as clothing. However, I won't go too much into that, as I'm sure many readers get my point.
Although I can't say I agree with the concept of even loosely portraying the acts of a serial killer on the big screen to be in good taste, but I'd be lying to a lot of readers if I said that the film wasn't any good either.
Putting the idea that this film was inspired by a real life serial killer aside, how does it hold up on it's own as a legitimate horror movie? Quite well to be honest, as I mentioned earlier that the cinematography and setting of the movie really helps immerse it's audience into the film. Not to mention the direction of this movie was very good as well. In one scene for instance, one of the girls is tied up, as she's being tortured by Leather Face's family. The family merely laughs at the poor girl's expense, as the girl tries to scream her heart out for help. In this scene, it shows various close ups of not only her face, but also of her eyes as the situation intensifies; thus allowing the audience to feel the fear of what she's going through. It's a very intense scene, and arguably the best part of the entire film.
Overall, I would have to give this film a four out of four. Although the film can be a bit disturbing at times, and the main characters aren't really as fleshed out as they could be. However, that's also part of the original's charm, with it's raw authentic simplicity. If you're a die hard slasher horror fan, or just a horror fan in general, then I would definitely recommend checking this one out soon.