Director: Tobe Hooper
Stars: Marilyn Burns, Gunnar Hansen, Paul A. Partain, Edwin Neal, Jim Siedow
The three most important horror movies in light of the current state of the genre are Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and The Blair Witch Project. Halloween will forever be the standard all slashers are measured against, and Blair Witch brought about the rise of found footage. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a slasher picture, too, but it stands out from Halloween because, more than anything else, it's an ordeal. Watching Tobe Hooper's 1974 film, even today, is too much like watching a snuff film.
It is one of the only films this writer has ever seen that, when the the killer first appeared, his face hidden behind tatters of sun-leathered skin, triggered a horrible looping thought of: "I don't want to watch this I don't want to watch this I don't want to watch this." And the writer has seen lots of horror movies. But there's something so—it seems silly to use a meaningless word like "real." There isn't a word for this. It's just terrifying, and in a way all these recent torture porn movies wish they could be.
The film, on paper, is patently ridiculous. Family of cannibals. Van of kids. Power tools. But truly, this movie is scary. Too scary. —RS