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FEARnyc 2016 Retro Movie Review: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
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Texas Chainsaw Massacre Header

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – 1974
Available now on Amazon Video
Written by Kim Henkel & Tobe Hooper
Directed by Tobe Hooper
Starring Marilyn Burns, Paul A. Partain, Edwin Neal, Jim Siedow, Gunnar Hansen, Teri McMinn
Original release date: October 1, 1974
FEARnyc screening: October 21, 2016

When one thinks of the movie title The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, even those who’ve seen the film, we think of gore, bloodshed, and visceral horror. That is the reason, maybe more than any, why The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a classic of the genre. After watching a special screening on Friday night at the FEARnyc Film Festival in Manhattan, it again amazed me just how little blood and gore are in that film. What director/co-writer Tobe Hooper does use is a hot, disgusting atmospheric vibe; a grotesque arthouse quality, and unnerving sound design and score. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre screening was introduced by FEARnyc director John Capo and hosted by Heather Buckley from Fangoria and Dread Central.

The film follows five twenty-somethings driving through the sweltering Texas summer. A cemetery is beset by grave robbers and Sally Hardesty (Marilyn Burns) and her wheelchair-bound brother Franklin (Paul A. Partain) are going to visit their grandfather’s grave and check out the family property. This takes them past the old slaughterhouse, and enjoys the company of a crazy hitchhiker (Edwin Neal), who attacks them before running off.

When they get to the family house, it’s dank and covered with spiders and poor Franklin is having a terrible time moving around in the chair. Kirk (William Vail) and Pam (Teri McMinn) run off to find a watering hole and end up at the house next door. When Kirk goes to explore piggy noises inside, the true horror of the film begins. A huge human-flesh-wearing monster of a man emerges to bash his skull in with a hammer in one of the greatest introductions to a movie monster of all time. Poor Pam goes to see what happened and finds herself in a room of human and animal remains. The camera work, score, and general feeling of uneasiness are as terrifying as Gunnar Hansen’s Leatherface. As night falls, so do Jerry (Allen Danzinger) and Franklin to Leatherface’s sledgehammer and chainsaw saw. The really horrific portion now begins. Sally is assaulted, gagged, and tortured by the crazed family, which includes the old gas station worker (Jim Siedow), the hitchhiker, and corpse-like grandpa (John Dugan). Only after her final victorious escape can we begin to breathe again.

Having seen hours of behind-the-scenes footage and knowing what conditions were like on set and how disgusting things felt and smelled, it makes re-watching the film harder. Never once, even now, do you see these people as actors. This is visceral horror filmmaking at its very best.

FEARnyc, which takes place at Cinema Village on 22 East 12th Street in Manhattan, NYC, will host over 65 screenings of classic and new horror films, and will include several cast appearances, special events, and a tribute to horror icon Wes Craven. Visit FEARnyc.com for the daily schedules, which runs through next Thursday, October 27, 2016. Admission is $12 for GA, $8 for seniors, and a Festival pass is only $125.

Video

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) – Theatrical Trailer


A group of hippies traveling through 1970’s Texas fall prey to a trio of murderous brothers and their cannibal grandparents.

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