Movie: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Director: Tobe Hooper
Stars: Marilyn Burns, Allen Danziger, Paul A. Partain, Gunnar Hansen
Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has a brilliantly misleading title. Sure, people are brutalized over the course of the movie, including a poor girl who's hung onto meathooks, but it's a largely bloodless film. The real terror comes from a psychological place, not from surface-level shocks.
The film's prime example of such mental horror is also its most famous scene. Near The Texas Chainsaw Massacre's end, the "final girl," Sally (played by Marilyn Burns), wakes up from a blow to the head to find herself tied to a chair at one incredibly demented dinner party. Seated at the table with her: the human-flesh-wearing brute Leatherface, along with his evil yokel of a father, his buck-toothed hillbilly brother, and their barely-alive, corpse-like grandpa.
Like schoolyard bullies, they taunt Sally, laugh at her, imitate her cries of desperation, and—in what can only be perceived as a demonstration of twisted genius from Hooper and co-writer Kim Henkel—put a hammer in grandpa's limp, lifeless hands and try to have him bash it over Sally's head. It's simultaneously nightmarish and, if you're able to withstand the scene's emotional punishment, hilarious. —MB