IMDb Rating: 7.5/10
R |1h 23min | Horror | 11 Oct 1974 (USA) | Movie
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 89 % Certified Fresh (Critics) | 82 % Fresh (Audience)
Director: Tobe Hooper
Writer: Kim Henkel, Tobe Hooper, Kim Henkel
Stars: Marilyn Burns, Allen Danziger, Paul A. Partain
Movie Tagline: “Before Halloween…. Before Friday The 13th…. Before Scream…. There Was The Saw.“
IMDb summary: Two siblings and three of their friends en route to visit their grandfather’s grave in Texas end up falling victim to a family of cannibalistic psychopaths and must survive the terrors of Leatherface and his family.
Based on true events. These days that doesn’t really mean a whole lot to film fans. Just because it’s based on real events or real people, doesn’t mean the film you’re about to see is exactly what happened.
Researching this film gave us some information on the “real events” part of the marketing used to get punters into seats when this released in 1974. The character of “Leatherface” who you see in the picture below is very loosely based on serial murderer Edward Gein. In fact, if you read what they have on Wikipedia, the film writers borrowed quite heavily from Ed Gein’s murdering rampage phase so in that respect, this film is based on actual evidence that was located at the time of his arrest. Human skin featured quite prominently in Gein’s area of interest as did human skulls, teeth and other skeletal remains. In short, the dude was a psychopath – no other word will suffice.
With that type of background, it’s no wonder this film was banned outright when it was released due to the copious amounts of violence depicted in many of the scenes. To be fair to the film’s creative team, it would be pretty difficult to tell a story about cannibalistic, murdering, grave robbing psychopaths without violence. The film just wouldn’t exist without it. So in that sense, the violence is anything but gratuitous and is indeed an important element to the story being told in its entirety.
The acting in the film is also quite strongly presented, particularly from the fellows playing the parts of the “family” that seems hell-bent on killing everyone they see. In particular, chainsaw wielding “Leatherface” who is scary as hell when you really see him doing what he does best.
The story is straightforward with no surprises, really. I mean what kind of plot did you really expect to see about a cannibalistic family of psychopaths on a rampage? Compared to today’s violence and horror, this film is kinda mild but delivers on every aspect you’d expect – the story seems like its straight out of a true crime magazine, the actors nail every single part they play and the setting is superb for the story that needs to be told.
Tobe Hopper, we salute you, Sir for you have created a masterpiece of Horror that can only be heralded as the real-deal. Without it, many of today’s blockbuster horror films probably wouldn’t have been realised let alone made.
There’s also going to be yet another remake of this film and I can’t think of any other testament to the genius behind this creation than that.
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Freelance entertainment writer and reviewer. Visit my blog on https://thebrokenquill.com.