This sensational, extremely influential, 1974 low-budget horror movie directed by Tobe Hooper (Poltergeist
, Salem's Lot
), may be notorious for its title, but it's also a damn fine piece of moviemaking. And it's blood-curdling scary, too. Loosely based on the true crimes of Ed Gein (also a partial inspiration for Psycho
), the original Jeffrey Dahmer, Texas Chainsaw Massacre
follows a group of teenagers who pick up a hitchhiker and wind up in a backwoods horror chamber where they're held captive, tortured, chopped up, and impaled on meat hooks by a demented cannibalistic family, including a character known as Leatherface who maniacally wields one helluva chainsaw. The movie's powerful sense of dread is heightened by its grainy, semi-documentary style--but it also has a wicked sense of humour (and not that camp, self-referential variety that became so tiresome in subsequent horror films of the 70s, 80s and 90s). OK, in case you couldn't tell, it's "not for everyone", but as a landmark in the development of the horror/slasher genre, it ranks with Psycho
, and A Nightmare on Elm Street
. --Jim Emerson
The original uncut version of director Tobe Hooper's blood-splattering classic, based on the true-life exploits of serial killer Ed Gein. A group of five teenagers drive down to Texas to check that their grandfather's grave is intact and stumble upon a farmhouse inhabited by a family of unemployed slaughterhouse workers, including the grisly 'Leatherface' (Gunnar Hansen), who wears a mask made of human flesh and wields a fearsome chainsaw.