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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 18.71%
Average: 6.43%
Pretty Bad: 4.68%
Total Crap: 7.6%

3 reviews, 153 user ratings

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Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The (1974)
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by Brian McKay

"It's a Lone Star Redneck Slaughterhouse Hoe-Down Barbecue"
4 stars

Hello, my name is Brian Mckay, and I am apparently the last person on the planet to have seen this movie. Now, I'm not exactly kicking myself for having waited for so long, because contrary to popular opinion it isn't the end-all be-all of horror flicks. However, it is certainly better than all its atrocious sequels combined, and considering all the films it has partially inspired (including my beloved EVIL DEAD franchise), it certainly deserves a hearty nod.

Tobe Hooper has had a directorial career that is the definition of hit or miss, but in addition to this film, the man also gave us Poltergeist and Lifeforce (starring the mostly naked Matilda May). To his credit, Hooper takes the road less traveled in slasher films here, setting the right tone with creepy images of flash photography and graveyard desecration, then takes his sweet time in getting to the bloodbath. Nobody dies for a good 40 minutes, and while a sizeable chunk of that time tends to lag, the extended foreplay makes the subsequent slaughter that much more enjoyable.

After hearing about a slew of recent graveyard robberies and desecrations, a vanload of teens travel to the graveyard where their grandparents are buried, just to make sure that the family plot has not been disturbed. The group includes two scantily-clad hot chicks, their dorky bell-bottoms wearing boyfriends (God bless the 70's), and the wheelchair-bound fat-ass brother of one of the hot chicks, who is obviously there for comic relief.

On their way back from the graveyard, they pick up some whacked-out hitchiker who rambles on about killing cows with a sledgehammer to the head, cuts the fat kid on the arm, and then runs away. Hmmm, must be that Texas heat. The van full of victims then stops at a gas station, only to discover that the tanks are dry and the truck won't be there until later in the day. In order to pass the time, the fat kid suggest that they drive to a nearby abandoned house that he used to live in, which supposedly has a swimming hole out back. What he neglects to mention is the family of redneck psycho cannibals who live in the next house over. Let the killing begin!

The first act, while uneven, provides a good setup for the carnage-filled second act. As unsettling as it is to see Leatherface jump out and bash someone over the head with a mallet, the real star is the house itself, and the bizarre discoveries our human cattle make inside, right before they get a dose of Texas psycho hospitality. The house is creepy on the scale of Norman Bates' Victorian or Rustin Parr's cabin, and Hooper's slow but steady revelation of room by room really works to sell the film's atmosphere. The murders are giddily amusing, without an overabundance of gore. As is often the case with most horror films, it only starts to fall apart towards the end.

After her brother and friends are cut up for chili con carne, The lone survivor, Sally (Marilyn Burns), does a lot of running and screaming from Leatherface, his brother, and the family Patriarch (Jim Siedow), who has got to be the most annoyingly verbose horse-faced redneck in the history of cinema. Thankfully, he talks a lot less in this movie than he does in the abysmal sequel. As usual, characters do stupid things while trying to get away (and boy, that Sally sure does love jumping through windows!). For example, when she flags down an 18 wheeler, the driver gets out, helps her up into the cab, climbs in after her, closes the door - and then they climb out the passenger door and run away! What the fuck? what's wrong with the concept of just driving off? Still, watching a fat truck driver run is always good for comic relief, and despite its lackluster and nonsensical ending, the film certainly delivers up a memorable closing scene.

Okay, it ain't a bad flick. Perhaps I would have enjoyed it a tad more as a 16 year old at the drive-in than as a jaded man in his mid thirties who's seen a torrent of horror flicks. I would give this a solid 3.5 stars, but since we don't do halves, and since I will probably be lynched by the community at large for giving it anything less than a four - Four stars it is. However, when it comes to seminal chainsaw-toting movies, just remember: "Shop Smart - Shop S-MART . . . YA GOT THAT!?"

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originally posted: 04/01/03 07:33:25
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Fantastic Fest For more in the 2006 Fantastic Fest series, click here.
Trilogy Starters: For more in the Trilogy Starters series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2014 Fantasia International Film Festival For more in the 2014 Fantasia International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

2/13/17 morris campbell harrowing but in a good way skip the remake 4 stars
8/25/16 Matt Good. Fuck the bad reviews 4 stars
12/31/15 Horror Girl Still the most scariest and powerful horror ever made 5 stars
6/23/12 Silkworm Comical drivel 1 stars
2/15/12 stanley welles nothing more than an over hyped fantasy gore flop 1 stars
8/10/10 Chad Dillon Cooper Landmark horror film based on Ed Gein. 5 stars
1/05/10 art A NIGHTMARE MOVIE!,DO NOT WATCH IT!,whatever you do! 1 stars
12/06/09 art THIS BLOODY FILM INSPIRED FRIDAY THE 13TH AND halloween. 1 stars
10/25/09 Thresher A great review of an under-rated film 5 stars
10/17/09 Josie Cotton is a goddess "Anyone can die at any moment"-Joe Bob Briggs 5 stars
8/29/09 Julian Hilariously cheesy with Benny Hill chase scenes -not scary at all. 1 stars
6/05/09 art THIS "MOVIE" REALLY CROSS"S THE LINE! 1 stars
5/17/09 Sam Whilst not much gore, there's a very heavy sense of dread. The best horror film ever shot. 5 stars
1/16/09 Luke Meighan This movie gave me herpes! Awesome horror film. 5 stars
1/14/09 sam lovelock 2nd best horror movie i've ever seen the 3rd texas chainsaw massacre is better 5 stars
10/10/08 budd look at those characters come on !!!!!!! this is a comedy not a horror film 4 stars
9/10/08 Borat To disturbing 2 stars
1/15/08 art a nightmare movie a real nightmare movie 3 stars
11/29/07 raul valdez jr no storyline just killing total crap, at least halloween had a storyline 3 stars
11/22/07 Kevin This actually happened to me 5 stars
11/15/07 Mikey G. The ultimate experience in unparelled horror. 5 stars
11/13/07 cherrybaby the second movies is better than the first one.. 3 stars
8/15/07 Leatherface wheres my saw the best 5 stars
7/27/07 action movie fan cheap,unintentionally funny,awful dialouge -bad in all respects should have been forgotten 1 stars
6/12/07 al smith relentless and raw in its power a true horror classic 5 stars
6/07/07 Dave Its awful! so much hype. Its crap! he should'v invested in a better chainsaw. i 1 stars
3/10/07 MP Bartley Brutally effective in its simplicity. 4 stars
11/21/06 Michele blood bath 4 stars
11/13/06 Dark Enchantress It was good, but not great. No enough gore and plus it was kinda cheesy 4 stars
11/02/06 rob this movie is overrated, not scary or gory whatsoever 3 stars
10/29/06 JM Synth Could have been better paced, but the flm produces true terror when it comes 4 stars
10/25/06 Drew G The GREATEST horror film of all time... 5 stars
10/09/06 steven It was a dame goog movies 5 stars
9/23/06 David Pollastrini I never thought this film was particularly scary 3 stars
9/22/06 Lisa Craven Definitely not for children, this gorefest even freaked me out! 2 stars
8/10/06 Dragon The Artist Good, creepy cuz its based on a true story. 4 stars
5/14/06 Horror Film Freak Relentless and terrifying. Definitely one of the best horror movies ever made. 5 stars
4/18/06 Destiny Knowlon This movie is so stupid and melexxticating little chidren. 1 stars
3/11/06 Dillon A piece of unadulterated horror 4 stars
3/04/06 turnips twisted photography, mental and macabre 4 stars
3/01/06 Uk_shooter great movie one of the best of the seventies 5 stars
11/25/05 cr freak, shocking,gory,and scary what else can you ask for and plus true story 4 stars
11/21/05 chris exelent very good and gory movie 5 stars
10/14/05 Darren O A nerve racking, trendsetting terror trip. Marilyn Burns makes you feel what she portrays. 5 stars
8/23/05 Eden The best horror film, gritty, realistic very well directed 5 stars
8/02/05 Martin grainy, claustrophobic style of filmmaking. unnnerving, more than scary. 5 stars
7/03/05 Eddie Its so scary i almost shit my pants 5 stars
6/11/05 Manu Ginobli A big ranicd piece of overrated shit. 1 stars
5/24/05 E-FUNK The definitive horror movie. Absolutely stunning and disturbing and balls-to-the-wall. 5 stars
5/05/05 coy truman cool....disturbing 4 stars
4/25/05 Indrid Cold Nice depiction of hysterical fear, but doesn't come close to living up to its reputation. 3 stars
4/08/05 Jason Kreitzer A triumph. One of the best horror movies of the post-Psycho era. 5 stars
3/31/05 Flash The most visceral final chase of all time, you practically go insane along with Sally 5 stars
3/20/05 Vince Whar is the FUCKIN HYPE all about? 2 stars
2/19/05 Karissa Knowlton to New England = Dynasty Frankin in the wheelchair made a great movie dudh 5 stars
2/19/05 Karissa Knowlton i love all the peeps were great actors and actress and gunnar hansen did great 5 stars
2/19/05 Karissa Knowlton I love it marilyn burn was great 5 stars
2/09/05 New England Patriots = Dynasty the cripple in the wheelchair made it so boring. Scary my ass. 2 stars
2/02/05 Darryl As horror movies go, this one is just run-of-the-mill. 3 stars
12/04/04 Me A great film 5 stars
11/21/04 Steve Austine I almost shit my pants because its true 5 stars
10/26/04 Naka Relentless horror that exists on a primal level. Not terrifying, but a damn good watch. 5 stars
9/21/04 al it is pretty sweet 5 stars
9/11/04 jewels vile loathsome piece of crap 1 stars
6/21/04 silver10 Very frightening and disturbing. something for the whole family to watch together. yee-haw! 4 stars
6/11/04 Rex Reed This is the most horrifying motion picture I have ever seen 5 stars
6/04/04 Stab Wounds Purty Cool! 5 stars
5/02/04 American Slasher Goddess The scariest movie ever made. 5 stars
5/02/04 jacob its all good....but ive seen better 4 stars
4/24/04 J I have never seen anything so Horrorfying! **** 5 stars
4/09/04 Bryan McGlothlin im sure the 2003 Texas chainsaw massacre is alot better scaryer i give the new one a 5 star 5 stars
4/06/04 niki I loved the movie and I'm only 8 because horror is cool. 4 stars
4/04/04 Tito Soooooooooooooooooooooo much better then remake! (Thank God!) 5 stars
3/31/04 charlie smalley fucking rules 5 stars
3/29/04 true review - correct review everytime horror classic, the scares are all in the mood, no fx needed, creepy and twisted 5 stars
2/26/04 Messiah A perfect examle of how a horror movie should be done. Chilling 5 stars
2/23/04 Naturezrevenge This movie is DOPE. One of the classics.Not recommended for girls in the country alone. 5 stars
2/17/04 Igor I saw this without hearing the reputation and thought it was a comedy. Overated, Not Scary 2 stars
2/15/04 American Slasher Goddess The scariest movie ever made. 5 stars
1/27/04 Chloe Brody Now this is some freaky shit! 5 stars
1/26/04 Eric Great start to the series.Franklin kind of ruined it for me though 4 stars
1/17/04 J Movie creepy and chilly! *** 1/2 out of 4 5 stars
1/11/04 CJ The best movie ever 5 stars
1/01/04 David Definitely one of the best horror movies ever made. Not gory but gruesome. 4 stars
12/26/03 Sara Really scary 5 stars
12/10/03 Samuel One of the greatest horror films of all time!! 5 stars
11/28/03 john brilliant and scary 5 stars
11/21/03 homer simpson one hell of a ride! 5 stars
11/14/03 Josh Low One of the best movie I have seen in a long time. 5 stars
11/01/03 American Slasher Goddess The best horror movie ever made. 5 stars
11/01/03 Dee`z nutz It was gangsta yah digg da um movie had ah nigga jumping 5 stars
10/30/03 Jules I saw the original and then the new release--scared me all over again!!! 5 stars
10/28/03 sophia was it based on a true story? i went to go see it it scared me 5 stars
10/27/03 sylvia very scary!!! 5 stars
10/26/03 andy fucking scary man 5 stars
10/25/03 Kevin Rodriguez This movie was so awsome and VERY SCARY 5 stars
10/24/03 Andre Pilon best horror ever 5 stars
10/22/03 Clint I'm from Texas, I thought it was scary untill .I heard it never REALLy happened 4 stars
10/21/03 Jenni from cali I became interested after I saw the movie and i had to find out more!! 5 stars
10/21/03 Cheryl from Texas Saw the 30 yr old movie and can't wait to see the new one 5 stars
10/18/03 Lauren I just saw the new version of the movie, and I became very interested in it. 5 stars
10/18/03 brian awesome movie chop 'em up! 5 stars
10/18/03 Morally Sound The greatest horror film of all time! 5 stars
10/15/03 Erica I believed the events in the film were true and I enjoyed it that much more based upon that 4 stars
10/12/03 Angie Frels I thought the movie was Great, but id like to know how true the events were? 5 stars
10/06/03 Jack Sommersby Visceral, nerve-frying horror classic. 4 stars
10/05/03 Sandra Scary movie, worth watching. 4 stars
10/03/03 lucas incredible 5 stars
10/01/03 Samuel Justus This Movie is based on a true story,and it is great! can't wait for the remake! 5 stars
9/20/03 Kali Even though it's not bases on a true story, still makes me scared to go out alone at night 5 stars
6/29/03 heywood jablomie Iabsofuckinglutely love thi movie! Crapped my pants not once but twice!! 5 stars
6/14/03 Alice This is a big one! No one ever came close.Top. 5 stars
5/15/03 Zach Nice 5 stars
4/22/03 LIAM JACKSON stupid teens get hacked up by chainsaw-wielding hillbilly nutcase.excellent 5 stars
4/17/03 Jon "Thumb the Toad" Lyrik Brrrrr... 5 stars
4/15/03 Ayatolla of Rockinrolla One of the best horror movies ever made 5 stars
3/20/03 Jack Sommersby Unpleasantly unnerving film manages to carry out its tasks well. 4 stars
11/28/02 Kyle Everyone on here will hate me for this, but it's total sludge! I didn't think it was scary 1 stars
11/06/02 Jiz Holy fuck I am never going to Texas. 5 stars
10/26/02 Morally Sound The sound of the chainsaw in the pitch black woods alone is enough to scar you for life! 5 stars
10/02/02 Michael J. Farris As a film student, I will get to see the 35mm print on the big screen! 5 stars
9/25/02 Ben Wasden Intense and scary, but not really fun. 4 stars
9/23/02 Tobey One of the great nerve-wracking climaxes of all horror cinema. Mortifying 5 stars
9/01/02 dean gough disturbing 5 stars
5/19/02 john waite chicks on meat hooks!!??...gets my vote! 5 stars
4/02/02 Film Dude One of my favorite movies. Go rent it. Right now. Seriously. Now. I'll give you a dollar. 5 stars
3/22/02 Luke Meighan Forget "The Exorcist", TCM is the most terrifying movie ever made.Best cannibal movie ever! 5 stars
3/07/02 Jeff Lecky Scared me shitless 5 stars
3/06/02 lauren mccreight Amazing!Ranks right up there with The Exorcist and Night of the Living Dead. 5 stars
3/05/02 Veronica Foxx aka The Raven-Haired Temptress How could being hunted by a chainsaw-wielding psycho wearing a leather mask not be scary? 5 stars
3/02/02 Chowie Well, this movie was a bit overrated, and not terrifying, but for it's time i guess.... 4 stars
2/28/02 Dave MacDougall If you have any imagination (or brains) this movie will scare the hell out of you! 5 stars
1/15/02 tom great moive 5 stars
1/06/02 daniboy not THAT good 2 stars
12/25/01 r b its the best movie ever made especially when terry mcminn is put on the meat hook. 5 stars
12/06/01 Se7en Sureal 5 stars
11/30/01 Rutt13 unpleasant, overrated...dull. 2 stars
10/14/01 Andrew Carden What Starts Out Scary, Gets Gross and Out Of Hand. 3 stars
8/06/01 E-Funk The most frighteningly realistic horror movies ever made...unforgettable. 5 stars
6/30/01 fifu i don''t like horror films but this movie is very freaky, not scary but disturbing Very 4 stars
6/21/01 Travis Denson The best horror film ever made! 5 stars
5/08/01 Rodney Muterspaw freaky, just plain freaky man 5 stars
4/15/01 Bradley Elfman fucking scary, incredibly witty,original, well directed, incredible script, awesome acting 5 stars
3/03/01 Jacob Myers I ate while watching this boring movie 3 stars
12/11/00 vinnie st. john the sickest piece of crap ive ever saw.a must for any horror fan.amazing ! 5 stars
9/17/00 Robert Llewellyn lets be honest this film stinks 2 stars
2/11/00 steve layne Semi-Distrubing, but highy overrated and not at all scary and laughable at times, but OK 3 stars
2/02/00 Vance Lipovac The Best Film with the Worst reputation! See It, Man! 4 stars
10/27/99 reverand love joy this movie is sick and twisted and crazy,it is fucking awesome baby 5 stars
10/23/99 little jerry Classic case of the power of suggestion.This is REAL FILMMAKING.As great as Psycho. 5 stars
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  15-Jun-1974 (R)
  DVD: 26-Sep-2006

  N/A (18)

  N/A (R)

Directed by
  Tobe Hooper

Written by
  Tobe Hooper
  Kim Henkel

  Marilyn Burns
  Allen Danziger
  Paul A.
  William Vail
  Teri McMinn

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