The late Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre came out of nowhere in 1974, terrifying audiences with its deranged characters and iconic villain Leatherface. Kim Henkel and Tobe Hooper’s screenplay was loosely inspired by Ed Gein, the real-life killer who also served as the inspiration for Psycho and The Silence Of The Lambs. Henkel and Hooper keep things simple, as the film spirals towards its climax. The fast and loose vérité style of Hooper’s movie predates the now popular found-footage horror sub-genre. This faux reality makes the film even more horrific and the BBFC banned the film outright believing its overall tone was what made it unsuitable for audiences.
Hooper’s film helped launch the slasher genre of the ‘70s and ‘80s, kick-starting the trend for iconic horror films. It’s no coincidence that Hooper’s film came in the middle of the ‘70s, a time when the US was still reeling from the Vietnam War, a war that showed reality was often far worse than fiction.
This image shows Tobe Hooper and directing ‘Leatherface’ actor Gunnar Hansen on the set of the 1974 release. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre grossed $30.8 million at the US box office during its original release.