Remade, sequelised, prequelised but never bettered, Tobe Hopper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a legendary entry in the horror movie cannon. Gritty, creepy and darkly comic, Hooper’s film is all about primal terror. The fear of the unknown and the wilderness. It’s about what happens when society doesn’t exist, when the animal instinct is stronger than humanity. The set-up is now cliche, but at the time there was nothing quite like it. Hooper’s film sees a group of young people getting lost in the Texan countryside. They stumble across the Sawyer’s, a family of inbreds with a taste for human flesh.
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 film 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. Legal wrangles meant that it took over ten years for a sequel to reach the screen, yet despite the return of Hooper and Henkel, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is a poor relative to this classic, ditching the scares for black comedy. It appears that both Hooper and Henkel, like the many who would come after them, failed to understand the raw intensity that made their 1974 film resonate. It’s no coincidence that this 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.
Few films in any genre have had the impact that the The Texas Chain Saw Massacre had on the horror genre. Tobe Hooper’s film changed the face of horror, ditching the classic monsters for something even more terrifying – the evil within mankind.
This double disc blu-ray from Second Sight is the last word on The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. The 40 year old movie gets a restored transfer that was supervised by Tobe Hooper. Fans get multiple commentaries from all involved, deleted scenes and hours of documentaries, including 2000’s Texas Chain Saw Massacre: The Shocking Truth (with outtakes). By the time you make it through all this, you’ll know everything you need to know about The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.