The Texas Chain Saw Massacre screenshot

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

A group of friends visiting a secluded part of Texas encounter a family of grave-robbing cannibal murderers.

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The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is one of the earliest examples of a slasher and helped establish the subgenre. The film created some all-too-familiar cliches, such as the expendable group of young friends in a remote place (in this case, rural Texas) and the iconic villain (Leatherface) with his signature weapon (the titular chainsaw). Most impressively, the film has its own unique tone and style that has never been successfully replicated.

Sally, her brother Franklin, and their friends are driving through Texas to visit their grandfather's grave and the old family home. Nearby, they find the home of Leatherface and his murderous, cannibalistic family. One by one, the friends are captured and murdered, until only Sally remains.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre screenshot

Scenes intended to make you jump are relatively few and far between, but used effectively. The first appearance of Leatherface is short, sudden, and shocking. Shots of potential victims being chased are intensified by the loud roar of a pursuing chainsaw. Even so, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is much more disgusting and disturbing than it is terrifying.

The movie opens with shots of rotting corpses, Leatherface's house is littered with bones and other body parts of unknown origin, and his masks are made of skin. Every new character's introduction is more bizarre and unsettling than the last. Texas Chain Saw makes you squirm in your seat rather than jump out of it.

That quality is exactly what makes the film unique. The followups in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series range from traditional slashers to demented horror comedies, but none have managed to capture the tone of the original. Even outside the franchise, no slasher since has been able to match the style of this one, making The Texas Chain Saw Massacre a landmark classic that will never be truly duplicated.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre poster The Texas Chain Saw Massacre title screen

Director

  • Tobe Hooper

Cast

  • Marilyn Burns as Sally
  • Paul A. Partain as Franklin
  • Allen Danziger as Jerry
  • Teri McMinn as Pam
  • William Vail as Kirk
  • Gunnar Hansen as Leatherface
  • Edwin Neal as Hitchiker
  • Jim Siedow as Old Man
  • John Dugan as Grandfather