Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Bomb Rating: 

If you're a horror film buff, you regard this 1974 film by director Tobe Hooper as a classic and a ground-breaker of the genre. If you're a normal, self-respecting person with even the slightest regard for human decency, you never made it through enough of the film to know what all the fuss was about.

Based on the same subject-matter as Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho," the precedent set by "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" is by now infamous: A group of youths walk into a mysterious situation and then get slaughtered like rabbits at a hillbilly barbecue.

While there may not be an excessive amount of gore in this film, there's more insane screaming than at a sorority sleep-over. There's also a handicapped guy who's so annoying that his inevitable death is actually something of a relief. The central fiend is Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen), who comes from a family so dysfunctional that even Ricki Lake wouldn't deign to feature it (though I wouldn't put it past Jenny Jones).

Leatherface, to couch it in psychologist's terms, has some control issues: For starters, he bops people on the head with a hammer. When he gets really mad, he chases them with a chainsaw. Adding to his low self-esteem is the fact that the leather of his mask is constructed from human flesh -- a real pleasant discovery as you munch happily away on your popcorn.

It all gives the viewer pause to consider: Who is the real victim, here? These dumb kids or Leatherface himself? With just a little love and some group hugs, Leatherface might have grown up not swinging a chainsaw, but singing a chorus of joy and humanity across the world as a member of the musical youth troupe "Up with People." But that would be another horror movie altogether.

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