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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

     The plot is simple.   Four youngsters one sweltering summer day in Texas go looking for the old family house, and stumble upon a clan of cannibalistic grave robbers. And it's hands down the scariest movie of all time, in my opinion.  If I truly had to pick one movie as the absolute, most horrifying film in all of history, I would definitely choose "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre".  

     From the opening narration by John Larroquette, this movie immediately gives you a feeling of dread in your belly, and it never lets up for one second.  Shot like a documentary, it has been making audiences sweat for 35 years now, and it's lost none of its power to terrify.   With a title like "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", it has gained a reputation as a gory bloodbath of violence, but it actually offers surprisingly little gore.  In fact, you hardly see any blood at all.  It's the madness of the movie that frightens us.  There is nothing cheesy or silly about this movie at all.  It has one purpose, and one purpose only.  And that is to scare us.  And it succeeds brilliantly.

         It's also one of the most realistic horror movies ever made.  I can't imagine them yelling "Cut!" and the actors getting up laughing.  It's just too realistic.  The grainy stock of the film, combined with unknown actors, only add to the realistic feel.  It gets under your skin.  Disturbs you.  You feel dirty after watching, like you need a shower.  It's the stuff of nightmares.  

     As much as I LOVE horror movies, I don't watch this one too often.  It is simply too frightening.  That may sound silly, but it's true.  This was a milestone in horror, and Leatherface became an icon known the world over.  Gunnar Hanson IS Leatherface- it's as simple as that.  Forget the sequels and the terrible remake- the original "Massacre" will always tower above all other incarnations. 

     Inspired by the crimes of Ed Gein (this is NOT a true story, by the way- there never were a family of deranged cannibals running around Texas...), "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" is a nightmarish vision of insanity that still terrifies to this day and was hugely influential in the whole "young kids stumble upon an unspeakable horror in the woods" scenario.  This is one of the greatest horror films of all time, and is still remarkably scary today.  I highly recommend the Pioneer Special Edition DVD of the film- the colors and clarity of the picture are amazing.  


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