The Texas Chain Saw Massacre – also promoted as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – is a 1974 American horror film, directed and produced by Tobe Hooper (Invaders from Mars; The Funhouse; Poltergeist; Lifeforce), from a screenplay co-written with Kim Henkel (Butcher Boys).
Although it was marketed as a true story to attract a wider audience and as a subtle commentary on the era’s political climate,its plot is entirely fictional; however the character of Leatherface and minor plot details were inspired by the crimes of real-life murderer Ed Gein, who was also the inspiration for Psycho (1960) and Deranged (1974).
In Texas, a group of friends fall victim to a family of cannibals while on their way to visit an old homestead…
Hooper produced the film for less than $300,000 and used a cast of relatively unknown actors drawn mainly from central Texas, where the film was shot. The limited budget forced Hooper to film for long hours seven days a week, so that he could finish as quickly as possible and reduce equipment rental costs.
Due to the film’s violent content, Hooper struggled to find a distributor. Louis Perano of Bryanston Pictures eventually purchased the distribution rights. Hooper limited the quantity of onscreen gore in hopes of securing a ‘PG’ rating, but the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rated it ‘R’. The film faced similar difficulties internationally.
Upon its October 1974 release, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was banned outright in several countries, and numerous cinemas later stopped showing the film in response to complaints about its violence. While it initially drew a mixed reception from critics, it was enormously profitable, grossing over $30 million at the domestic box office.
It has since gained a reputation as one of the most influential horror films in cinema history. It is credited with originating several elements common in the slasher genre, including the use of power tools as murder weapons and the characterization of the killer as a large, hulking, faceless figure. The popularity of the film led to a franchise that continued the story of Leatherface and his family through sequels, remakes, comic books and video games.
“It’s notable only for taking woman-in-jeopardy about as far as she can go. The three men are despatched unceremoniously, and the women (bra-less and hotpants respectively), their screams rising into orgasms of fear, are toyed with endlessly while the camera often assumes a pointedly aggressive stance. Pernicious stuff…” Chris Petit, Time Out London
“This is without doubt the most frightening and macabre shocker I have ever seen.” Evening News
” … what appals me about this film is its lack of purpose; if ever a film should be banned this is it.” Daily Mail
“The fact that it is rather efficiently and effectively done only makes the film more unpalatable.” The Times
More recent reviews:
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is the best horror film ever made. I could argue that it is the best film of any genre, if I felt so inclined. It’s a film that essentially reinvented the genre, putting into place elements that have long since become clichés (and yet still work with powerful effect here) and offering a structural style that the best of the genre have tried to copy but never quite matched. It takes the reinvented modern day realism that the genre moved towards in the 1970s and grafts it onto a new form of delirious gothic grandeur, and it is relentlessly, insanely horrifying – and absurdly funny.
No other movie – not even Hooper’s own out-of-control sequel – comes close to matching the sheer levels of hysteria and madness shown here, and no film so perfectly manipulates the audience from the opening moments, bringing them to such a state of expectation that when the horror actually kicks in, it’s almost a relief.
David Flint, Horrorpedia
“Horror had never been this raw before, and it could be argued that it hasn’t since, the sheer grimy ugliness of the piece leading some to walk out, others to cry sadism and many more to acclaim the film as a modern masterpiece; horror in its purest, most unforgiving form. Sequels and remakes have come thick and fast, but nothing will ever match your first encounter with the original and its brutal, hammer-over-the-head power.” Tom Huddleston, Time Out London
‘This is absolutely the best the film has ever looked,’ says director Tobe Hooper, who supervised the 4K restoration and new 7.1 audio mix.
• New audio commentary with director Tobe Hooper
• New audio commentary with cinematographer Daniel Pearl, sound recordist Ted Nicolaou and editor J Larry Carroll
• Cutting Chain Saw with editor J Larry Carroll
• Grandpa’s Tales with actor John Dugan
• Horror’s Hallowed Grounds
• New deleted scenes/outtakes
Buy Dark Sky Films 40th Anniversary Blu-ray + DVD from Amazon.com
Track 1: writer-producer-director Tobe Hooper, actor Gunnar Hansen, cinematographer Daniel Pearl
Track 2: actors Marilyn Burns, Allen Danziger, and Paul A. Partain, and production designer Robert Burns
Track 3: writer-producer-director Tobe Hooper
- The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Shocking Truth
- Flesh Wounds: Seven Stories of the Saw
- A Tour of the TCSM House with Gunnar Hansen
- Off the Hook with Teri McMinn (1080p, 17:02)
- Production Manager Roz Bozman interview (480p)
- New Deleted Scenes & Outtakes
- New interview with actor John Dugan ( Grandpa )
- New interview with editor J. Larry Carroll
- Deleted Scenes & Outtakes
- Blooper Reel
- Outtakes from “The Shocking Truth”
- Dr. W.E. Barnes Presents “Making Grandpa” (still gallery)
- Still Gallery (posters, lobby cards, etc)
- Trailer 1
- Trailer 2
- TV Spot 1
- TV Spot 2
- TV Spot 3
- Radio Spot 1
- Radio Spot 2
Dark Sky have also released a special limited edition version
• Limited Edition packaging (built as a replica of the famous Black Maria semi-truck from the film)
• Includes a blood-spattered Leatherface apron, the official theatrical mini poster, as well as a 5th bonus disc exclusive to this release
Related: Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers | Texas Chainsaw 3D | The Texas Chain Saw Masscare (1974) | The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) | Leatherface : The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III | Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation | The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Soundtrack | The Texas Vibrator Massacre