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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre follows the story of a group of young adults, Pam (Teri McMinn), Kirk (William Vail), Franklin (Paul A. Partain), Jerry (Allen Danziger) and Sally (Marilyn Burns), who are having a holiday at one of their old family homes. When two of them disappear, the other three go out to look for them, but when they discover what's really out in the woods, they better run fast, for their life depends on it.
The Texas Chainsaw just may be one of the scariest films ever made, something I hardly hear anybody say. When someone says what's the scariest film of all time? The first film that usually comes to most minds is The Exorcist or The Shining etc. but what you rarely hear is The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It's not necessarily because this film is underrated or under appreciated. It's not even the fact that this film isn't seen by a lot of people, as it is. For some odd reason, nobody ever seems to think of this movie as one of the scariest movies ever made. Perhaps I'm just an idiot and was in the wrong mood for The Exorcist and the right mood for this film, but whatever. This film is scary. It's The Exorcist on steroids, mixing grotesque and violent imagery with atmosphere-heavy scenes. Tobe Hooper's debut film just may be the best film he's ever directed, using its luscious cinematography and haunting villains to its advantage. Leatherface is the reason why I don't want to visit Texas anytime soon, and I'm standing by those words for this entire month.
The first twenty minutes or so relies on building up character. After an opening title card that's reminiscent of Star Wars, although technically this film came first, the film slows the scares down with the intent of letting us get to know these characters. It lets us care about these characters, for we know that they're soon going to be viciously murdered by a chainsaw wielding maniac. There was even a moment or due during this opening sequence when I forgot I was watching a horror movie. I was watching these character's lives and I was already beginning to feel as if I belong, thanked by both the screenplay and the natural performances. Then we get to a scene with a hitchhiker and it hit me that I'm watching a horror movie. All of a sudden I was worried for these character's lives. The film had drawn me in. There was no stopping me now, I was hooked.
This film goes in a completely different direction to what you'd think. Full of grizzly twists and turns, this film is constantly contradicting your predictions. The film never once does down a path you think it will. By the time we've reached its conclusion, anything could happen. There's literally no knowing where this film is going. This film does what a lot of other horror films don't dare to do and it does them well. One of the scariest sequences in this entire movie, the sequence that had my heart bursting against my chest, takes place outside and features a lengthy, but never not thrilling, chase through the woods. It's also one of the only scenes to take place at nighttime, which in this film is not a bad thing at all. It's a rare horror movie that's so goddamn scary it doesn't need to take place at night to scare you. It doesn't need to put in thousands of annoying jump scares. It doesn't need to add in a high pitched sound effect. This film does what it does and it works all the time.
To sum up, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one of the scariest horror movies of all time. It mixes grotesque imagery with atmosphere-heavy scenes, it's unpredictable, successfully builds up character and features a haunting villain.