Thoughts on “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”

So, after “Backwoods” and “Wrong Turn”, I managed to get ahold of a copy of the original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and thus watch the inspiration for those movies and arguably the movie that created that entire genre. But it’s a very different movie than those ones.

In fact, the movie reminds me the most of the Asian horror movies that I’ve watched, in that it seems to be driving the horror more by being freaky and strange than by actually being scary. One of the early scenes is with a creepy hitchhiker — who ends up being part of the family — who acts really weird and freaks them all out. This builds to the ending where the Final Girl is pretty much trapped with them with them all acting extremely deranged. This necessarily a bad way to go, but it’s not really the sort of horror movie that I generally enjoy, which hurts it a bit in my estimation.

It doesn’t help that a lot of the characters are mostly annoying. The brother is someone in a wheelchair — and possibly with developmental problems — who is in general really annoying most of the time. And while we can sympathize with them, his companions are also not any better, even towards him. He convinces them to go to the house they go to because it belonged to his family and he had at some point grown up there, but then when they get there they leave him to get into the house by himself. Sure, he was whining to go there — at the risk of them running out of gas — but did they really think it would make his whining less if he didn’t get to see the inside of the house and what everyone else was looking at? Most of them, outside of the Final Girl, are generally annoying. And for her, much of that is because she doesn’t really get much development at all.

I dinged the first “Wrong Turn” movie for contriving to capture the Final Girl when everyone before that had been killed. This movie does the same thing. However, it’s much more forgivable. First, that movie did it so that the hero could perform a rescue, while here the heroine has to rescue herself. Second, here she was captured after running to and meeting the more reasonable member of the family, while there wasn’t that link in that movie. And, finally, this family is more depraved than stupid/insane and so them deciding to capture her to torment her makes “sense”, as having further goals that they needed to wait for until they had a good opportunity is in line with their mindsets.

Ultimately, I don’t think the movie is bad. I do think it shows its age, with cinematography and scripting changes over the years that would greatly improve this movie as well. Moving to this one after watching more modern versions may be a bit jarring. On a personal level, though, it’s not my sort of movie, and so while I might be tempted to watch “Backwoods” again, I don’t see myself watching this one again, and so it will go into a box.


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