The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

The opening shot of a movie can really set it's tone, so when the Texas Chainsaw Massacre begins and you're looking at a human skull it seems appropriate. But then once the camera has zoomed out and showed you the whole body – which has been propped up on top of a gravestone – and then cut to another set of similarly bloody visuals before the credits roll you realize: oh, these people think that showing us a series of ugly images is the same thing as creating “mood”.

 

This movie has a teenager's idea about what's shocking, because teenagers have a sense of what they can and cannot say, so when they want to press your buttons they just go right for the easy target. There are so many gruesome things in the world that it's easy to craft a random macabre image, and there's a certain amount of creative juice you can have just from putting your characters in mortal peril, but this film is so relentlessly dumb and mean that it quickly loses whatever power those things would have. The sets are so cluttered with taxidermied things and the characters are so devoid of thoughts that this movie might as well be a half-bright metalhead's sketchbook of doodles.

 

I can understand how this movie would be interesting as historical context, because the sort of gloves-are-off carnage that it depicts is completely missing from earlier horror films but certainly present in the slasher movies that would follow. And I'm not even categorically opposed to the super-gory films that followed in it's wake because while a lot of them are pointlessly cruel, some of them have an interesting viewpoint to go with their buckets of blood. (Dead Alive, I'm looking at you.)  But when you're watching a movie, you aren't watching the history of cinema unfold on screen; you're just watching a single film. And in this case it's a bad film, repetitive and crass, so if you're interested in the history you might want to read a book about it instead.

Winner: The Cat

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on IMDB