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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

This masterpiece will forever be remembered as one of the finest horror films put to screen. With its gritty and raw, almost documentary style filming, it's undoubtedly one of my favourite pieces horror cinema of to date. Loosely based on the Ed Gein killings in Plainfield Wisconsin, this film has some of the most iconic and greatest scenes in horror movie history and in my opinion features one of the greatest slasher icons to accompany it. Making history in the late 70's as one of the scariest films of its time, being pulled from numerous cinemas around the world and being banned in multiple countries, thus is certainly a gruelingly difficult watch due to the sense of realism it provides. Although, I did actually find upon recent rewatch that the gore is very limited by today's standards. But this isn't a negative, as it felt as though certain scenes were leaving interpretive space for the viewers imagination, giving you more than could ever be shown on screen at the time of release. When it comes to iconic slasher antagonists within the genre, I personally find Leatherface to be one of the more superior of horror villains - purely based on how realistic and imaginable his character actually is. There are genuine serial killers that have been known and recorded throughout history that bare a lot of similarities to him and the Sawyer family and for me that makes this all the more chilling. And although Leatherface is the sole focus of the majority of this film, I find the incorporation of the rest of the family within the closing act makes everything feel closer to reality. Given the the way Leatherface is portrayed on screen, it does seem unlikely that he would successfully commit these crimes, alone, all the while evading capture - making the discovery of the family as a viewer feel both sensical and equally horrifying. Despite whitnessing the pure on screen brutality at the hands of Leatherface, it's difficult not to feel compassion for him. I would say this is all due to the impressive character interpretation by the late Gunner Hansen. His ability to evoke terror, yet make you as the viewer feel real empathy is a true testament to his acting. I have seen the majority of the subsequent sequels that followed this original and I can genuinely say that no other iterations of this character manage to capture the child like naivety that Hansen did here. In addition to the films controversy and subsequent theatre bans, it is equally just as well known for it's gruelingly filming schedule and conditions the cast and crew had to endure. Nothing puts that on display more than the sheer terror and misery portrayed by Marilyn Burns as Sally within the final third act. Her screams of terror feel so real and harrowing and this is said to be due the relentless heat and constant reshoots director Tobe Hooper made her go through in order to to push her to the edge of insanity. It is said that the heat and the humidity was so high that the cast had to run outside for oxygen and periodic vomit breaks - later being referred to as "the last supper". Having the use of a minor musical score provides a real on-the-edge-of-your-seat suspense, something greatly overlooked by horror films today. The tension building that most scores provide alerts you that something is about to happen, this is not the case here makes the scares all the more surprising, unexpected and genuine. There are endless reasons why this piece of cinema will forever be one of my go-to favourite horror films. I know this franchise suffers more than most with weak installments and remakes but nothing can ever take away the greatness of the first. This film proves that less can mean more, simplicity is often key and quite simply, nothing beats the original.



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