Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974 franchise)

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Still from the introduction of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre...

Summary

A 1974 film franchise featuring a deranged family of killer hillbillies who butcher hapless visitors for meat. The original film was allegedly based on a "true story", with serial killer Ed Gein typically identified as the inspiration, though the somewhat more ancient and allegedly true legend of Sawney Beane seems like a more accurate model. The franchise consists of the original film, plus numerous sequels, reboot films, and imitations, as well as countless comics and novels and other spin-off media, though the original film is, perhaps, the one most likely to be of interest to Lovecraft fans, and fans of classic horror films in general.


Details

  • Release Date: 1974-present
  • Country/Language: US, English
  • Genres/Technical: Horror, Thriller, "slasher", Southern Gothic
  • Runtime: 1 hr 23 min
  • Starring: Marilyn Burns, Gunnar Hansen, Edwin Neal, Allen Danziger, Paul A. Partain, William Vail, Teri McMinn, etc.
  • Director: Tobe Hooper
  • Writer: Kim Henkel (screenplay), Tobe Hooper (story & screenplay)
  • Producer/Production Co: Vortex
  • View Trailer: (link)


Ratings

MPAA Ratings

  • Rated: R (Violence, Profanity, Adult Content)

The first film, like the original Psycho (1960), actually portrays surprisingly little violence on-screen, leaving most to the audience's imaginations; audiences tend to remember far more on-screen violence that the film actually contains, and the film does a surprisingly good job of suggesting intense horrors without actually showing them.

Tentacle Ratings

A rough measure of how "Lovecraftian" the work is:

  • S____ (One Tentacle: Debateably Lovecraftian; has almost no direct connection to Lovecraft's work)

"Lovecraftian?!?!" Yes, it is a bit of a stretch. Then again, the surprisingly flexible Lovecraft was already writing this sort of cannibal-hillbilly-slasher-on-the-skids horror story decades before this, in the form of "The Picture in the House (fiction)" (perhaps inspired by older stories such as those about Sawney Beane, and Raw Head and Bloody Bones); and, arguably, there are suggestions of something cosmically and apocalyptically wrong with far more than just the family of killers in the eerie introduction and other early scenes of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre film....

Note: This rating is not intended as a measure of quality, merely of how closely related to Lovecraftian "Weird" fiction the work is.

Reviews

Review Links:

  • Leatherhead at Horror Express, (link) - "At no time does this ever feel like it's a movie. It looks and feels like life, and that what's going on is going on right now. One part slasher, one part exploitation, and eight parts nightmare...."
  • Thomas Ligotti quoted in the New Yorker, (link) - "...The brutality displayed [in Texas Chainsaw Massacre] is so deviant and strange it takes off into the uncanny."


Synopsis

 Spoiler Section (Highlight to Read)

When Sally hears that her grandfather's grave may have been vandalized, she and her paraplegic brother, Franklin, set out with their friends to investigate. After a detour to their family's old farmhouse, they discover a group of crazed, murderous outcasts living next door. As the group is attacked one by one by the chainsaw-wielding Leatherface, who wears a mask of human skin, the survivors must do everything they can to escape.


Notes

Comments, Trivia, Dedication

Associated Mythos Elements


Keeper Notes

  • Scenarios about families of human cultists living in strange, isolated places who have slowly slid into inhuman savagery are a great way to remind investigators that there's really nothing special about humanity: people are as likely to be monstrous, inhuman aliens as anything else living on, in, our around the world the investigators live in.


Other Films in Series

  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3 (1990)
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: the Next Generation (1994)
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003 reboot)
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: the Beginning (2006)
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D (2013)
  • Leatherface (in production)