'Texas Chain Saw Massacre' Review: Good Ole' Texas BBQ
Texas Chain Saw Massacre makes you feel dirty, like take a shower as soon as possible dirty. It feels real, not a like a film but more akin to a documentary. It's a covered in a thick layer of grime and dust that seems to be transferred over to the viewer. Every time I've watched TCM I feel like I need to take a shower afterwards. It's not particularly scary but it just feels real enough to be unsettling and disturbing.
I can't get past how much I don't like Marilyn Burns. It's not her fault, her character was written that way, but she is impossible to like. For the latter half of the film, all she does is scream. She screams at the top of her lungs and doesn't even seem to fucking breathe. Her eyes show terror as she is harassed by her captors, but the screaming never stops. Her screams permeate the latter half of the film and ruin it for me. Its hard to focus to root for a protagonist when all they do is scream and act weak and feeble. TCM does little to change the damsel in distress trope that plagued the 70s horror cinema.
Leatherface however isn't as terrifying as I remember him being either. He has a few initial jump scares early on that try to build him as a lumbering giant. This doesn't stick as later in the film Leatherface dons a mask made of a woman's face with full makeup. He becomes a "housewife" cooking food and wearing an apron completely turning the "evil" character idea on its head. It humanizes and sympathizes a character that otherwise would be totally one dimensional. Even with this increased character depth and added sympathy, Leatherface does kill people. Its not as graphic as modern horror but when Leatherface smashes one of the characters over the head with a mallet, its upsetting. Especially when the character jumps and moves after death, going through death throes.
Marilyn Burns aside, Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a expertly shot and paced film especially for it being Tobe Hooper's first film. He would go on to direct more mainstream films such as Poltergeist with Steven Spielberg but TCM is his masterpiece. It personifies Texas horror and would open the door for a more similar films to come such as Frailty. While it was based off the true story of Ed Gein, it becomes its own story and introduces Leatherface who would transcend the film.
Final Say: Watch It
Who Said What?
Old Man: "I just can't take no pleasure in killing. There's just some things you gotta do. Don't mean you have to like it."