Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Just finished my annual viewing of Tobe Hooper's original Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). Just gets better to me with every passing is one of those movies that is always there in my all-time Top 5 (of all genres), and I can't see anything ever being able to push it out (though I more than welcome any serious challengers).
For all it's brutality and gut-level terror, I also find TCM to be a very funny film in many ways, though it took me several viewings to really see and appreciate the humour in it, so effective was its horror. I view it almost like a live-action 1950s EC horror comic - characters like the Hitchhiker and the father were almost straight out of a classic EC story. The EC comparrisons are I think compounded by the fact that, just like their old stories, the movie had plenty of brutal violence but no nudity or overt sexual activity (something very rare for what was essentially a low-budget regional film aimed mostly at the drive-in crowd). And the first apperance of Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen) has to rate as one of the most economic but effective introductions of a monster in horror movie history.
I first saw TCM back in 1983, when the ban on the film in Australia was finally lifted. I was 19 and had been reading about the film in books like Splatter Films and Cult Movies, and an issue of Fangoria with a Hooper interview, so I was very excited to hear it was finally getting a cinema release locally (and I was now old enough to see it). The film was being screened in Melbourne at a cinema that was undeground off a little alleyway in the heart of Melbourne had shown arthouse and exploitation stuff in the 70s but by this stage was more grindhouse/adult stuff (they would later go exclusively hardcore sex for the last remaining years in the early-nineties).
I remember showing up for the first session of TCM on opening day, buying a ticket from a girl who looked confused having to wear clothes for a change, and sitting with baited breath in the cinema (with about three other people), only to be let down when an announcment came on that there was a problem with the projector and the days' sessions were cancelled. So I was even more wound-up with anticipation when I returned the following day - the experience was worth the wait though. I still have the little promo poster I pulled off the grimy lobby wall when no one was looking: