Last year, between the two of us, we watched an average of 317 movies.
This year our goal is to top that by watching at least one a day.
And as an extra special torture, we've decided to write about all of them.

27 March 2008

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

Director: Tobe Hooper
Writers: Kim Henkel, Tobe Hooper
Released: 1974
Cast: Marilyn Burns, Allen Danziger, Paul A. Partain, William Vail, Terri McMinn, Edwin Neal, Jim Siedow, Gunnar Hansen

NIKKI says:
It was really by chance that we ended up watching this one. Our month of culling the To-Watch pile is about to come to an end, so we wanted to use these last few days of March to power through whatever we could. Instead, as we had a visitor interested in a bit of horror movie history, we ended up choosing this one.

I was a bit sad as I pretty much silently vowed never to watch this again. Not that I think it's a bad movie, I just find it very hard to watch. I'm fine until Kirk get it, then I just want to hide under the covers until all the screaming stops.

We had some great discussions after the movie about what worked and what didn't, why this was scary, what it all meant. It's a great film to examine because it raises so many issues and feelings and, for me, I never quite know if it's exploitation or genuine social commentary. I think it's after so long at that damn dinner table that I start to go, All right, can we move on? But no, that's when Grampa needs to try and hit Sally over the head, which I think is just the grossest thing ever filmed. What's the social relevance of this!?

I really don't know why this film creeps me out so much. It could be testament to the writing here that I get such a sense of whacked-out reality from the family members. It's as if it's all real, and I don't want to look at it. I get the same vibe from The Hills Have Eyes, and other horror films from the 1970s. I won't watch Last House in the Left again for this same reason. It's just too graphic for me, because it feels so real.

I will say, though, that this viewing of Chain Saw was the easiest yet. I worked out it's maybe the fourth time I've seen the movie, and I found myself hiding a bit less. I was prepared for the hitchhiker cutting himself, then for Kirk getting hit, then for the hook, and then for the hammer. So it wasn't so bad. I still wanted to kick the TV, run away, and never come back during the finger sucking bit, though.

The final moments of this film are still hugely effective. After so much darkness and evil, here we all are, plunged into the light, sun overhead. And this horrible thing still goes on. Sally's insane cry-laugh as she drives away is just incredible, and Leatherface lives on, in his mixture of anger and confusion.

My love-hate relationship with this film continues. I know it's good, but I hate it for all the reason why.


STEVE says:
I used to hate this movie. I didn't think it was scary at all, just some cheap-looking schlock that skimped on effects (meaning, in those days, Savini-esque blood and gore), and took waaaay too long to get to the first kill. In fact, the first time I attempted to watch it, I fell asleep.

Looking back on it, I'm sure it was a mixture of ignorance and general contrariness that informed my opinion, as well as the fact that I'd been up for 36 hours straight (long story) when I sat down to watch it and subsequently fell asleep because, years later, for whatever reason, I decided to give it another go and I discovered - as I would later with films like Dawn of the Dead and 2001: A Space Odyssey - that it was my fault and not the movie's.

I've since come to see Chain Saw for what it is - a revolutionary film by a maverick filmmaker, without which the landscape of modern horror would be significantly less interesting. But at 15, not so much. I didn't see that the first half was taking its time on purpose, lulling me into a false sense of security until Kirk walks into the house and encounters Leatherface. Didn't know that the quick-as-a-flash kills were meant to startle and shock, unlike the lingering blood and gore kills I was used to from the likes of the Friday the 13th movies. It took me - and I say this with all possible humility - well into my 30s to recognize the genius behind this movie.


[Steve watched again on 11/5 with film class.]

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