He Came, He Chainsawed, He Conquered
Legendary director Tobe Hooper died on Saturday (thankfully, not at the hands of a power tool-wielding maniac). His credit on the truly haunting Poltergeist will surely go down as one of the craziest production stories of all time, but it was the game-changing independent production The Texas Chain Saw Massacre that gave him his reputation one of horror’s greatest. So how does the movie hold up in 2017?
By 1974, the U.S. had seen a rise in notorious serial killers getting heavy publicity, from the Manson family to the Zodiac Killer. Taking advantage of the fearful zeitgeist, Texas Chainsaw immerses audiences in the world of a fictional psychopath and helped create the slasher genre, by following up where Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho left off.
At the time of release, Texas Chainsaw served as an extreme, boundary-pushing flick that only the most hardcore horror fan could handle. In the film, Sally Hardesty and her brother Franklin come across the psychotic Leatherface and his family deep in the heart of Texas, which somehow feels more authentic with over forty years under its belt.
Off the Chain
As people’s obsession with the lives of serial killers only grows stronger, the legacy of the movie grows. Its documentary aesthetic, which is set in place from the film’s opening narration, had horror junkies of the time questioning the authenticity; audiences now see how it created a whole market for a new brand of filth (and we mean that in the best way possible).
The loss of Tobe Hooper is a major one for the horror world. One watch of Texas Chainsaw, is enough to see the kind of (twisted!) imagination he had, opening the floodgates for future filmmakers to take psychotic killers and extreme violence to the next level. In a way, Hooper knew some of us just wanted to see people die on screen, an idea that expresses itself flawlessly by the end of the film.
Two words. Chainsaw dance.