Directed by Tobe Hooper The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) has surely made its mark on the world. After seeing it years ago and the many follow-ups in the franchise I revisited this horror and was not left untouched.
With a visceral realism before its time it could have shone forever had it been perfected with editing out those close ups and peculiar angles that took away from the realistic element along with the replacement of certain members of the cast. With that said I recognise the possibility that such unsettling methods may have been chosen purposefully to inflict an unease upon the audience.
Despite its lack of stylised perfection, superb script and award winning creation the film remains an important point in the history of film, especially horror for its terrifying touch of mockumentary style and over zealous gory violence.
The grim closeness of the family during interactions, the regular invasion of space prior to any violence, this is a nightmare made real. For even without the violence this film remains a terror of stranger in a strange land where the natives not only openly act against all the social norms you know in almost every way and invade personal space to say they least, they also eat people just like me and you.
This, however is a tale that draws no empathy from me for the shit out of luck teens. The consistent screaming of the leading lady is another issue for those seeking a film with a smart lead as so often it is her noise that alerts the family where she is throughout their numerous chases. Ignoring a possible lack of talent in places the lack of fame amongst the actors lends itself to the effectiveness of the film, they appear only as their characters and with the introduction speaking of the documentation of such crimes the film becomes an almost 'found footage' masterpiece.
The revolting state of the locations and the total lack of cleanliness is a part of the film that overpowers in a way that could easily lead the viewer to, at times, contemplate how hellish such an experience would be for themselves. This is possibly the reason for its success for despite a lack of empathy for the characters the locations themselves bring about a fearful recognition of how such places would be for us.
In the final moments of the film the leading lady's escape is one of desperation not the will to survive, it is a gesture of total and complete terror, the need to simply get away regardless of how or where or if it shall even work. As the truck demolishes the younger brother and offers safety the blind panic of the characters appears natural as starting the engine to drive away does not occur but instead panic and fear simply demand they move, run, returning them to their basic instincts. As she finally evades death on the back of a truck we see her screaming and laughing in what can only be described as hysterical joy and shock whilst our face wearing hunter waves his weapon of choice in the air in pitiless frustration; reasonable reactions for both.
All in all this film although an important step into the world of violence, gore and horror it remains a film with numerous flaws. For that reason despite my recognition and admittance of definite cult status I can only rate it as average amongst the annuals of horror that have joined the world since its release.
3 *** - Before its time and stuck there too.
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