31 Days of Halloween Day 20 – TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (’74)

31 Days of Halloween – Day 20

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (directed by Tobe Hooper, 1974) If I could be part of any horror film in the history of cinema, I would choose Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I feel that TCM is the pinnacle of terror cinema. The film is non-stop, nerve-grinding screaming, yelling, and brutality. You can have all of the torture porn like Saw and Hostel you want. I will take the dirty, stinking Texas summer heat of this Tobe Hooper classic. Leatherface is a man who wears other people’s faces after he hangs them on a hook and butchers them. What is more terrifying than that? Five young adults are traveling through Texas to return to a childhood home. Along the way, they run into an assortment of characters that should have set off one hundred warning bells to get the hell out of there, but they carry on for lack of better judgement. They arrive at the destination, and splinter off into a couple groups. At various points, everyone one of them stumbles upon the Sawyer residence, a creepy farm house. It is here that they meet their premature demise. It turns out that the Sawyers are cannibalistic psychopaths. There are scenes in this film that still wear on my psyche, even though I know what is coming. Every time a victim is hung from a meat hook, I get a sick feeling. Marilyn Burns (Sally Hardesty) does an inspiring job as the terrified lone survivor. After reading trivia about TCM, it seems like the actual production of the movie was far more horrifying than the film itself. The filming was done over twenty some odd days during one of the hottest Texas summers in history. Sounds like guerrilla style film making at it’s finest. Edwin Neil, who starred as Hitchhiker, claimed that filming the movie was worse than his service in Vietnam. That sounds intense, but whatever happened during production aside, these actors were part of something special. Gunnar Hansen was menacing as Leatherface. The moment that metal door slides open, and he emerges, horror movie villains changed forever. Since that point, most mute killers are big and menacing, but no where near the presence of the original Leatherface. Also, you know he meat business, as evident by the tie that he wears under his butcher’s apron. At the risk of sounding like a fan boy, Texas Chainsaw Massacre almost perfect. The only thing I don’t like about the film is the character of Franklin. He is the most annoying asshole of a human being ever. I’m glad he was sawed in half. I feel good inside every time I see it. That aside, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is first class example of how fear should be transposed to the big screen. So, this Halloween, slow cook a roast, put on your favorite lady face, and enjoy a good dose of Leatherface.



  • Day 1 – The Conjuring
  • Day 2 – You’re Next
  • Day 3 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween
  • Day 4 – Dog Soldiers
  • Day 5 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
  • Day 6 – Psycho (1960)
  • Day 7 – John Carpenter’s The Thing
  • Day 8 – The Prowler
  • Day 9 – Pet Sematary
  • Day 10 – The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Day 11 – Near Dark
  • Day 12 – The Lost Boys
  • Day 13 – Child’s Play
  • Day 14 – Sleepy Hollow
  • Day 15 – House of 1,000 Corpses
  • Day 16 – The Devil’s Rejects
  • Day 17 – Night of the Living Dead
  • Day 18 – Dawn of the Dead (’78)
  • Day 19 – Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
  • Day 20 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)


31 Days of Halloween *Day 5* – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

31 Days of Halloween – Day 5

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (directed by Marcus Nispel, 2003) After picking up a hitchhiker on a desolate road, a trip through Texas turns into a living nightmare for five young adults. A family of sadistic psychopaths terrorize the travelers, led by the menacing, but simple Leatherface. Sound familiar? That is because Tobe Hooper already made a film called Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 1974. Since Hollywood became obsessed with being unoriginal, there have been several attempts to cash in on remakes. Most are rather lame, but this update of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is actually really good. Michael Bay’s production company, Platinum Dunes, specializes in horror movies, and the first few years it was mostly remakes that they focused on. Amityville Horror (2005), Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street are the other franchises that Platinum Dunes have tried to revitalize. This is by far the most well produced and directed of all of the other films that have been released by this company. There are differences here and there between the new and classic stories, but the gritty and grisly terror that the 1974 Massacre is known for is quite prevalent in the reboot. The dirty, sweaty hot Texas atmosphere and backwoods sets are really well done. The portrayal of Leatherface by actor Andrew Bryniarski is menacing, and R. Lee Ermy (Sgt Hartman, Full Metal Jacket) is typically awesome as the ‘sheriff’. I actually find his character a bit more insane than that of Leatherface. Jessica Biel also stars as Erin, the lone survivor of the ordeal. Director Marcus Nispel, who also directed Friday the 13th (2009) and Conan (2011) had a tall task in recreating the infamous original, and does a commendable job. Out of all of the horror remakes in recent years, this is one of my favorites. If you are looking for a get-down-to-business, chainsaw thriller with a lot of running and screaming, this is your second best option, but we will talk about that a little closer to Halloween.

Cool Fact – Actor John Larroquette (TV’s Night Court), who lent his voice to the original 1974 Texas Chainsaw Massacre returned to narrate the 2003 remake as well.