A to Z Guide to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre Franchise

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With the upcoming release (scheduled for 2013) of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D, I thought that we should have a guide to all of the TCM movies starting with the original that was released in 1974 up to Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. So, get ready for some really good movies and some extremely bad ones too! This article will focus on the movies from 1974 to 1995. All movie summaries were obtained from www.amazon.com.

It has been called grisly, sick, and perverse,” as well as raw, unshakeable, and the movie that redefined horror. It was attacked by churches, banned by governments, and acclaimed by only the bravest of critics. It stunned audiences worldwide and set a new standard in movie terror forever. In 1974, writer-producer-director Tobe Hooper unleashed this dark, visionary tale about a group of five young friends who face a nightmare of torment at the hands of a depraved Texas clan. Today it remains unequaled as a landmark of outlaw filmmaking and unparalleled in its impact as perhaps the most frightening motion picture ever made.

Tobe Hooper shocked the world with his groundbreaking film Texas Chainsaw Massacre. TCM was an assault on the senses of audiences in the 70’s with a horrifying film that documents the life, and death, of a group of young adults who encounter a twisted family of serial killers, most notably the Ed Gein inspired Leatherface. Starring some of the most annoying victims in cinema history, TCM is a groundbreaking film where the boundaries of the day were pushed by Tobe Hooper.

I love The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (not only due to the fact that my parents first date was to see TCM at a drive-in). From the desecrated graveyards and corpses to the gritty film style in Leatherface’s house, the terrifying realistic, found footage feel to the film lends an air of depravity to the movie. You officially get a feel for the movie when our gang of victims pick up the Hitchhiker, who demonstrates some of the insanity that is part of the family curse. Cannibalism, murder, and pure insanity are lovingly filmed in this film and makes it a requirement for every horror fan to watch. You have to give credit to the group of victims in this movie: they definitely seemed to be terrified and pulled off some very interesting death or torture scenes (being hung on a meathook was especially vicious).

From the director of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre this ghastly and hilarious sequel descends into your deepest darkest fears as a wacked-out lawman goes after human meat-cutters with his own high-octane chainsaws in a horrific showdown with the legendary leatherface and his entire cannibalistic family. For 14 years former Texas Ranger Lefty Enright (Dennis Hopper) has been obsessed with finding the psychotic mass-murderers who killed his brother’s children. And today he’s in luck. A tough as nails late-night disc jockey (Caroline Williams Days) has caught the ghouls on tape in the act of slicing and dicing a couple of fun-loving rich kids. When she volunteers to help, Lefty persuades her to play the tape on-air to lure the maniacs out of hiding. But what she doesn t know is that she’s the only witness to this diabolical family’s butchery who hasn’t been carved up for somebody’s supper just yet!

With even more slashing, chopping, and slaughtering fun, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 amped up the gore-filled comedy with some amazing contributions from Bill Moseley as Chop Top. The scene in the radio studio with the DJ is an insane romp in depravity and oddly disturbing when Leatherface is pretending to use his chainsaw like a penis. Dennis Hopper provides the perfect amount of over-the-top, not-so-sane vigilantism.

As far as sequels go, you really can’t go wrong with this movie. Is it cheesy, insane, and over-the-top? Most definitely. It is such an enjoyable film that those elements do not detract from the overall picture. 

  A survivalist is all that stands between two innocent college students and a family of cannibals. Original uncut classic. Year: 1996 Director: Jeff Burr Starring: Kate Hodge, William Butler, Ken Foree

While this film does follow the trend of most slasher movies (the killer did die in the last film), Leatherface is now living with a new family of cannibalistic psychopaths who are hellbent on turning all visitors and travellers into tasty treats. Starring Ken Foree as a survivalist and Viggo Mortensen as a member of the cannibalistic family, Leatherface is viewed by some fans as being one of the best of the series. While there are some gaps in the plot and logic, this is still a fun movie. And who doesn’t want to see Aragorn play a demented flesheater? Lord of the Rings would have felt completely different if Strider ate the hobbits.

To this horror fan, there is a definite drop in quality with each successing film, but the horror comedy factor increases in each film. The first TCM was grim, gritty, and terrifying. As we progress, each of the sequels gets gorier, and yet, funnier at the same time. This is definitely a franchise that is worth watching. While it did not garner as much as a following as Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th, this series is really fun and horrifying at the same time.

A car accident on the night of their senior prom leads four teens into an evening of horror when a sadistic recluse with a remote-controlled leg arrives to “help” them. Soon, the teens come face-to-face with Leatherface and the rest of the cannibalistic “Chainsaw” family.

This is the final movie in the original series. Renee Zellweger stars as one of the teens, and we have an appearance from Matthew McConaughey as a member of the family of cannibals. The family dynamic has changed once again where now there are two brothers, one brother’s wife, and, of course, Leatherface himself. In fact, in this film we have a crossdressing Leatherface. This addition to the character does anger some TCM purists, but it is still a romp on the fun side, especially when Leatherface is doing his “Dance of Chainsaw” in a dress. McConaughey does a great job playing a crazy, part mechanized cannibal. This movie is an example of plain crazy fun and gore.

I am typically a horror purist and when I originally sat down to watch all five of these movies in a row, I was dreading this one. I thought the addition of Zellweger and McConaughey was the TCM equivalent of “jumping the shark” and there would be no return from it. Instead, we were given an entertaining film with fun characters. If you haven’t watched all of the movies in this series, you are missing out. While not all are great, they are at least highly entertaining with some great scenes.

Check back to Lytherus for updates on the upcoming Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D!

What are your thoughts on Leatherface or the series?

 

 

 

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