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 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.
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.