Welcome to the Laughing Vixen Lounge Blog. It's Friday and time for another round of Fear Friday. We have been celebrating all of May with a Road Trip theme. While our first three selection where lessor know modern films the rest of the month we will revisit some classics. This week's selection is a gritty, creepy and disturbing film from the early 70's that taught us so many lessons. Do not pick up hitchhikers. Do not run out of gas. Do not enter a stranger's house. And, to be on the safe side, just stay out of Texas!!! Grab some BBQ and enjoy!
Every Friday at the Laughing Vixen Lounge Blog is Fear Friday. Fear Fridays are a celebration of all films spooky. Horror is a very broad genre and the Lounge loves it all. Each Friday you will find a review of a different film. These can range from Classic Horror (black and white and cheesy), Thrillers (suspense, jumps and a good mystery), outright Horror (chop chop, slash slash, die die) and anything else in between.
So pop some popcorn, kill the lights and enjoy tonight's selection. And please, share your comments on the film. Bad or good let me now what you thought of it. And now, my little ghouls and dolls, the Laughing Vixen Lounge Blog is proud to present this week's film.
May - Road Trips
Fear Friday - The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Tagline - Who will survive and what will be left of them?
Can you survive ...it happened
Directed by Tobe Hooper (Salem's Lot, Venom and Invaders from Mars) and released on October 1, 1974 by Bryanston Distributing. A group of teens are traveling the back roads of Texas wanting to visit the old home two of them grew up in. Running low on gas they try the local gas station but they are out. When they reach the house they decide to visit the neighbors to see if they have any gas they can borrow. Bad idea!
The movie opens with a narrator telling of happenings in a small Texas town in the summer of 1973. Graves at the local cemetery have been opened, bodies removed and missing and one disturbing display left. Many people are making their way to the graveyard to check on their family members. It is made to play as if this is an actual incident and the film is an account of the horrific events that followed.
A group of teens are driving to visit the cemetery to check on two of the teens grandfather's grave. They also plan to stop by and check out the old family home. On the way to the house they pick up a hitchhiker. Then very quickly get rid of the hitchhiker!!! They then stop for gas at the local gas station. The station is out of gas. Tanks won't be filled 'til later. Why don't they come on in for some BBQ?!! They decide to go to the house since it is not far away. When they arrive at the house they notice the neighbors have a generator running which means they should have some gasoline. Let's go see if they will share. *I have a very bad feeling about this idea*
The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre still holds up as one of the truly great horror films. One of the main reasons is that it is simple yet very effective. The look of the film is gritty and very low key. There is no glitz and glamor of today's slick looking horror films. While there is blood and violence it is actually pretty tame compared to today's R rated films. It is all there, it is all implied but you do not really see anyone being gutted or chopped to pieces. It is not needed. What you do see if plenty creepy.
While the chasing and killing is tense and creepy the part of the movie that really stands out, and makes this a chilling experience that will not soon leave you, is the mentality of "the family". These people are just so wrong. The big dinner scene at the end is disturbing, horrifying and wrong. Wrong, wrong and wrong! It is the effectiveness of these characters that make the movie more than the average slasher film. It may make you wonder why one would watch this but it does what most horror films fall short of... leaving you with a lasting impression that will creep you out every time it crosses your mind. Hmmm... maybe that is not such a great thing. Oh well, to late for this Vixen.
It was possibly the first real slasher film. It certainly started a long string of movies in the 1970's which featured a very distinctive style of brutality and realism. This movie is in no way a true story but it did borrow from real life serial killer Ed Gein. Mr. Gein, like Leather Face, did make furniture out of human skin and sold what the locals considered the best sausage around. Knowing things like this only add to the creepiness of the film.
This movie spawned 3 sequels and 3 remakes/re-imaginings. While none of them are great number 2 has Denis Hopper, number 3 has Viggo Mortensen and number 4 has Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger. The first remake is fun enough and follows the original fairly well.
Fun facts -
The narrators voice at the beginning is actor John Larroquette who is well known for his role in the TV show Night Court.
The house that was used in the movie is a functioning restaurant. As of this review it is open as the Grand Central Cafe and is part of The Antlers historic hotel in Kingsland, Texas. Eating dinner in the actual room the dinner scene took place? Yep, no sound stage here. It was all filmed right in the house. It is so wrong and yet I have to go!!! This is now on my bucket list. Find the cafe here and the hotel here.
I have also included a short video below that is a fun look at the actual shooting locations.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is available on most DVD and DVD Streaming services.
Take a look at the original trailer.
An interesting video showing the filming locations.
Some trivia about the movie.
1. The movie wasn't released in Australia until the early 1980s.
2. When it was first released, the film was so horrifying that people actually walked out on sneak previews for it.
3. The film was rejected by the British film censors in 1975, but it did get a limited cinema release in the London area thanks to the GLC (Greater London Council). It was banned again in 1977, when the censors' attempts to cut it were unsuccessful, (for the purposes of a wider release), then it was banned again in 1984, due to the growing controversy involving 'video nasties'. In 1999, after the censors finally changed their policy, they took the plunge, and passed it uncut, for the cinema and video, after 25 years, since they first banned it.
4. The film was originally entitled "Headcheese", but was filmed as "Leatherface", then changed again at the last minute to "Texas Chain Saw Massacre".
5. Due to the low budget, Gunnar Hansen had only one shirt to wear as Leatherface. The shirt had been dyed, so it could not be washed; Hansen had to wear it for four straight weeks of filming in the Texas summer. By the end of the shoot no one wanted to eat lunch with Hansen because his clothing smelled so bad.
6. Tobe Hooper intended to make the movie for a "PG" rating, by keeping violence moderate and language mild, but despite cutting and repeated submissions, the Ratings Board insisted on the "R" rating for the effectiveness of what is onscreen and what is implied offscreen. Hooper had a similar ratings problem with the sequel.
7. According to John Larroquette, his payment for doing the opening narration was a marijuana joint.
8. Some urban legends say that the the "real" Texas Chainsaw Massacre took place near Poth, (a small town about 50 miles south of San Antonio). This is false. The film is fictional and based loosely on the life of Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein (as is the classic Psycho (1960).