31 Nights of Horror - Night Eight: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Speaking of horror icons...I would be remiss if I didn't include this classic on my list. In a time when the world needed someone to light the path for the new standard in horror film, Leatherface answered that call...with the buzz of a blood-saturated chainsaw.

Tobe Hooper's opus, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre came out in 1974 riding a wave of controversy into horror movie history. I first happened upon this film in my high school years...always hearing about the sinister Leatherface and wondering what kind of terror he had in store. When I finally watched the film, I was held in fear...not only from the maniacally wonderful performance by Gunnar Hansen as the legendary Leatherface...but, by the entire experience that Hooper and crew so painstakingly created with such a low budget.

Oh....sorry...that's Jessica Biel from the Platinum Dunes remake...how in the Jesus Christ did that get in here?!?

Anyway...where was I? Oh...the look of the film is genius. It was shot in such a grainy...urine filter of a way that it brings a sense of dread and realistic peril to the poor victims in the film. The premise is the blueprint to any film involving a killer stalking teenagers. Five friends go back to a place of nostalgia, pick up one of the most brilliantly acted hitchhikers from any horror film, make a pit stop at a zany gas station, then end up at one of the most terrifying family homes in horror film history. It's a simple plot that leaves a lot of room for the great performances that this film is known for. Most notably from Marilyn Burns...in a role that would define the term scream queen. Jessica Biel tried to replicate her performance a few decades later but didn't even come close....oh...did I mention Jessica Biel again???

Sorry....won't happen again....I promise.

Then, there's Leatherface. Loosely based on the work of Ed Gein, Leatherface is a child of a man who just wants to do good by his family. Unfortunately for the victims in this film, his family members are all sadistic psychopaths. Played by the legendary Gunnar Hansen, Leatherface is the kind of killer that doesn't sneak up on you. He's the clumsy type. You'll hear him coming a mile away. However, instead of briskly walking up to his victims, he sprints for you....with his power tool of choice. It's a terrifying image captured in a documentary style film. It's as if the events are all true and you just happened to come across some footage of all the carnage. Leatherface dancing around in the sunlight in the final scene of the film is horror film at its absolute finest. It's an image forever burned into the psyche of the horror movie fan and represents a marriage of the truly horrifying with the equally beautiful.

Oh...and the meat hooks......"shudders"...

I'm not exactly even sure why the remake even exists because the original is perfect the way that it is. There really is no need for a re-imagining as the first film still holds up today. I mean...seriously, what is scarier than a crazy guy in a dead skin mask running at you with a chainsaw. Pure evil.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is an absolute must watch for any Halloween occasion and will terrorize you in the most primal of fears. It will take your serene world and hoist it onto a meat hook. Nothing comes close to this classic of horror film mastery and nothing ever will. Tobe Hooper at his finest.

5 out of 5

Thanks for reading!