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Texas Chainsaw Massacre

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a low-budget horror film classic made in 1974 by director Tobe Hooper. It concerns a family of cannibals in Texas, who abduct customers from their gas station. One of the main characters — Leatherface — kills his victims with a chainsaw. more...

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It is often considered the prototype of the slasher film sub-genre. Despite its grisly subject matter, the film — like John Carpenter's original Halloween — does not rely so much on explicit gore to generate terror in the audience, as it does pacing, suspense, and dramatic tension. The many sequels and imitators the original film spawned have been much bloodier and more graphic.

The film was banned in the United Kingdom (1974-1999, but was subsequently issued on video and DVD), France (1974-1984), Germany, India, and Romania.

The official title of the original film spells 'Chain Saw' with two words (contrary to some posters and DVD covers), while the sequels and the remake use the compound 'Chainsaw'.


Original (1974)

Upon hearing that vandals have desecrated a graveyard where her grandfather is buried, Sally recruits her boyfriend Jerry, her brother Franklyn, and her friends Pam and Kirk to investigate. On a side trip to the grandfather's deserted farm, the travellers pick up a slimy hitchhiker who cuts himself intentionally and slashes Franklyn with a razor. After arriving at the farm, Pam and Kirk search for an old swimming hole — Kirk hears a generator and believes he can find some gasoline. He enters the house hoping to find the owner. Unfortunately, this is the home of the hitchhiker, as well as his brother, "Leatherface," who has some surprises for the travellers consisting of sledgehammers, chainsaws, and assorted cutlery.

Remake (2003)

In 1973, a group of college kids are headed to Dallas through the back roads of Texas. On the way, they encounter a young hitchhiker who shoots herself with a revolver. The kids contact the sheriff, who takes a long time to come down to meet them. Two of them wander to a large homestead, which they discover is inhabited by a family of psychopaths who support the grisly and abusive practices of their son.

Connection to actual events

Contrary to popular belief, the film does not depict factual events, but instead was (like the films Psycho and The Silence of the Lambs) loosely inspired by Ed Gein, who, while he did wear human skin, acted alone and did not use a chainsaw. Those who do believe the film was based on actual events will try to back up their statements with similar events in Texas, all of which had nothing to do with the film. Although the film's opening would have one believe that the events are factual, it was merely a scare tactic, called the false document technique, to frighten the audience. (The opening voice-over is performed by John Larroquette.)

Cultural references

  • The movie Motel Hell (1980) is a parody of this film and other 1970's slashers.
  • The movie Summer School featured two students who were fascinated with this film, and whose fascination was central to the story's climax.
  • White Zombie reference the film's tagline "Who will survive and what will be left of them?" on their album Astro Creep: 2000.
  • Murder by Death has an album titled "Who will survive and what will be left of them?".
  • The Ramones have a song referencing this film, "Chain Saw".
  • US death metal band Mortician have made several songs about the movie, including "Chainsaw Dismemberment" and "Hacked up for Barbecue". They also used samples from the movie in these songs.
  • In the film American Psycho, yuppie serial killer Patrick Bateman works out while the original 1973 film plays in the background.


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