Film history and appreciation
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
“Based on a true story.” The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (TCM) was one of the first true slasher films. TCM is set in rural Texas during a heatwave. A group of five 70’s yuppies, 2 girls 3 guys, head out to Texas to investigate a family matter. What happens to them is one of the most horrific acts of violence shown on film at this time, and it’s all loosely based on the chainsaw serial killer Ed Gein. The 5 young adults (early 20’s) set up shop in their old family home that has been long abandoned, after they tire of the heat the group slowly disbands to find a “watering hole” to swim in. The kids that decide to wander off stumble upon a house in which they could seek refuge, Bad idea. This house is home to a family of backwoods, slaughter house, inbred, sickos. The house is full of human remains, chairs made of bones, lamps made from heads, and preserved dead bodies set up in pose. TCM is not just some horror flick to be forgotten about. TCM, directed by Tobe Hooper, is a masterpiece of fear. Hooper find some way to make the viewer feel uncomfortable for every scene. TCM is a masterpiece because it has 70’s political undertones in it’s plot, well fitting setting, and a unique use of the 16mm film camera.
First, TCM is a masterpiece, because of the slight political undertones. As most know, TCM is very very loosely based on a true story; a true story nonetheless. The movie is based on serial killer Ed Gein who was a mother obsessed recluse in rural wisconsin who commited a string of murders and grave robbings. He was apprehended at his home and there the police discovered his home to be filled with human bones and shrines much like in TCM. The police also found Ed Gein’s famous mask made of skin, much like the mask Leatherface wears in TCM. This part is relevant, because director Tobe Hooper was taxed with making Ed Gein’s story into a hollywood picture, which required some tinkering. During the 70’s there was a hippie movement, and one of the hippie slogans was to stop animal cruelty. TCM is based on a family of sickos that a 4 generations deep in the local cow slaughter house. Hooper shows that long term exposure to the heinous act of taking a living creature’s life will eventually turn you stark raving mad. In the movie one of the kids talks about how they used to just smash the head of the cow with a sledge hammer, sometimes multiple strikes were necessary for a complete kill. This image is what the Leatherface family line was exposed to and the movie suggests that they began to lust for the...