Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre; horror, USA, 1974; D: Tobe Hooper, S: Marilyn Burns, Paul A. Partain, Edwin Neal, Jim Siedow, Gunnar Hansen

Texas. Sally, her wheelchair bound brother Franklin, Pam, Kirk and Jerry travel through Texas in a van, the place where their grandfather once lived. They pick up a hitchhiker, a former butcher in a cattle slaughterhouse, but throw him out when he attacks Franklin with a razor. The five friends are low on fuel, so they stop at an isolated house. One by one, they are slaughtered by a butcher with a mask, 'Leatherface', until only Sally is left. She is suppose to be killed, too, by a meat obsessed grandfather, but manages to escape and flee in a car that stopped on the road.

Despite its cult reputation as one of the first slasher horror films that broke some taboo elements, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" is garbage. Its suspense is based too much on cheap scares, banal sadistic violence and trash, failing to become one of those rare sophisticated horrors. It is pure gore, and little more, but that little more is actually the most interesting feature of it: namely, the most fascinating ingredient is the vegetarian subtext since the killer and his assistant are former butchers in a cattle slaughterhouse, implying how their routine of killing thousands of cows somehow spread into their normal life, i. e. they cannot imagine living any other way than killing, even humans. In one scene Sally is even observing sausages made presumably out of human meat, whereas during the (infamous - and overstretched!) dinner sequence she is begging the family who wants to eat her to spare her life, but they are entirely numb, parallelling the often ignored horror of an animal sensing its death in slaughterhouses, and the consumers entirely numb to their plight. Such a disruption of natural human order gave the film shock, even though its satirical and subversive potentials were not exploited enough. Despite limited budget, this independent film is surprisingly well crafted from a technical point-of-view, with two visually pleasant scenes some 31 minutes into the film, whereas a couple of scary scenes are at least slightly more imaginative than the rest, like the long night sequence where Sally is running from 'Leatherface' through the bushes, while he is using the chainsaw to remove branches in his way.


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