Celebrating the film’s 45th anniversary, I had the opportunity to screen the 1974 horror classic, “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, at Alamo Drafthouse.
“The events of that day were to lead to one of the most bizarre crimes in the annals of American history.” – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
When it comes to movies that are made to be seen on the big screen, there are only a handful of legendary “must-see” horror films which are considered essential viewing for hardcore genre fans. The Alamo Drafthouse Phoenix provided not just one, but two showings of one such film, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, in celebration of the the film’s 45th anniversary. In my opinion, there’s nothing more exhilarating than watching the face-wearing, chainsaw-wielding Leatherface and the Sawyers do what they do best. As the saying goes, “a family that slays together stays together.”
Released October 1, 1974, the timeless classic was directed by the late, legendary Tobe Hooper. It stars deceased genre icons Gunnar Hansen, Jim Siedow, and Marilyn Burns. It’s a film that has terrified and disgusted audiences for decades, and to this day, it remains one of the most beloved slasher films of all time.
The popularity of the original film sparked a few sequels (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation) and even a direct remake in 2003 (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), and it’s one of the few franchises continuing to make sequels and prequels after being remade. The original film and its main attraction, Leatherface, have long stood as one of the most influential, inspirational and iconic films in all of horror.
Seeing a film like this on the big screen is really the only way to watch and do it true justice.
There’s almost nothing as unnerving or intense as hearing the revving of a chainsaw while a madman dressed in other people’s skin chases down and dismembers innocent victims at will. It’s a terrifying trek, to say the least.
Certain films benefit way more than others when they’re expanded on a theater screen. In the scene where Sally and her brother Franklin are chased through the black forest, the sound of the chainsaw piercing your eardrums really stabs at your sanity. It evokes a deep fear within the viewer and penetrates people’s personal space far deeper when displayed on a grander scale.
The darkness in the film feels more intimate and intrusive on the big screen. Because of this, it’s scarier and more effective when these horrific acts are displayed on the silver screen — like Leatherface cutting up bodies or Grandpa using the hammer like he did in his younger days at the slaughterhouse.
The kills are bigger and bloodier, making it a truly memorable experience.
Watching Gunnar Hansen as Leatherface dance in the street at dusk conducting his own sick, yet sweet and beautiful chainsaw symphony is something you really have to see to appreciate. It’s a truly harrowing rendition. Hansen’s portrayal, large and in charge on the big screen, along with excellent performances from his twisted and talented family members and the supporting cast, really cuts to the bone.
THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE is a cult classic for a reason and arguably one of the best films ever made. Made on a shoestring budget with a no name cast in Texas, it’s now widely considered one of the most influential and controversial horror films of all time — and often credited for launching the start of the slasher heyday.
While that credit is sometimes given to Psycho, Hitchcock actually intended that film to be a comedy. Many other genre fans cite Halloween as giving rise to the modern slasher, but Michael Myers was no doubt heavily inspired by his predecessor, Leatherface.
In summary, if you get the opportunity, go see this essential classic in the theater. If you can’t find it playing anywhere near you, go urge your local outlet to screen it. It will likely be one of the most thrilling and frightening viewing experiences you’ll ever have as a horror fan.