The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
written by Kim Henkel and Tobe Hooper
directed by Tobe Hooper
Goddamn. I’ve seen this movie countless times and it still packs a punch. It’s not particularly well acted, and the first half hour – aside from a great opening shot of two rotting corpses atop a gravestone – is pretty amateurish. But once a group of hippies starts to get terrorized by a family of backwoods killers (inspired by the real-life murders of Ed Gein), it becomes a tight little horror flick – and arguably the first slasher film ever. There’s frankly nothing like it before or since.
Contrary to popular belief, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has very little actual gore. There are only five deaths, but they’re all ingeniously staged – much of the shock comes from what you don’t see. The scene where now-iconic psychopath Leatherface (played by Gunnar Hansen as an imposing, slow-witted man-child) first appears in a doorway and bashes a victim’s head with a sledgehammer still scares the bejesus out of me. And the final sequence, in which Marilyn Burns screams non-stop as she attempts to escape the chainsaw, is almost poetic in its audacity. You will never forget the final thirty seconds.
Carlos I. Cuevas