Marilyn Burns as Sally
Paul A. Partain as Franklin
Edwin Neal as The Hitchhiker
Gunnar Hansen as Leatherface
1974: The year of Watergate, Dungeons and Dragons, and Patty Hearst. Hillary Swank was born and Jack Benny died. Right along side Chinatown, The Godfather, Part II, and Young Frankenstein, a film is released that would raise the bar for horror films to follow.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre starts by informing us about a string of grave robberies and desecrations that are taking place. We then meet Sally Hardesty (Marilyn Burns) and her brother Franklin (Paul A. Partain) as they travel with three of their friends to check out their grandfather’s grave amid fears that it too has been desecrated.
Upon discovering that the grave site is safe they then decide to go to their grandfather’s old house. Along the way they pick a hitchhiker (Edwin Neal) that totally freaks out everyone by cutting himself and Franklin and being an all around crazy person.
What follows is a classic among classics. Tobe Hooper created a masterpiece of horror with a little budget (the profits for financing came from a film called Deep Throat), a story that came to him in a hardware store, and an atmosphere that is as much a part of the story as Leatherface himself.
Gunnar Hansen is Leatherface. It is my belief that he should be placed in the same group as Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, and Lon Chaney Jr. Though many have tried no one has been able to match the ferocity and passion that Hansen puts into Leatherface.
I recommend viewing The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on the Ultimate Edition DVD. The transfer is excellent and you begin to forget that it was shot on 16mm film and that the lighting wasn’t great. It also has two great documentaries about the making and behind the scenes of TCM.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one of those films that not only belongs on your classics shelf but would lead someone to question your devotion to the genre if you did not have a copy of it. I am not sayin’ anything, I’m just sayin’
By The Zombie Master, Lee Roberts