The Texas Chain Saw Massacre


[Check out our discussion of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on the Really Awful Movies Podcast!]

Grainy, grisly, a reputation that precedes itself…

In this episode of the Really Awful Movies podcast, we revisit the harrowing classic The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, how we came to see the film and how we anticipated lots of gore rather than pulled punches. That doesn’t undermine the psychological horror of TCM…

We discuss the film’s original title, Headcheese and how the visceral movie works on the viewer on different levels. The mind fills in the gore blanks.

The classic 1974 horror was directed and produced by Tobe Hooper, who co-wrote it with Kim Henkel.

Chainsaw stars Marilyn Burns, Paul A. Partain, Edwin Neal, Jim Siedow and Gunnar Hansen, who respectively portray Sally Hardesty, Franklin Hardesty, the hitchhiker, the proprietor, and Leatherface, the main antagonist and indelible horror villain.

The film follows a group of friends who fall victim to a family of cannibals while on their way to visit the old Hardesty homestead. Although the marketing campaign suggested that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was based on a true story, its plot is entirely fictional; however, the character of Leatherface and minor plot details were inspired by the real-life crimes of cannibal murderer Ed Gein.

Our friend Luis at the incredible (and now sadly defunct) Suspect Video told us that people think they’ve rented the wrong version because the film is tamer than what people expect.

The Really Awful Movies team of Jeff and Chris break down the film’s weird family dynamics and talk about the excellent book Chain Saw Confidential: How We Made the World’s Most Notorious Horror Movie by the late Gunnar Hansen.

We also look at the state of Texas and its city VS rural demographics, portraying people with disabilities in movies and why Wisconsin produces so many serial killers.

The cliché of the hitchhiker, hillbilly horror films and how Gunnar Hansen was cast in the iconic role of Leatherface are among other topics covered.

Be sure and check out weekly episodes of the Really Awful Movies Podcast!

Published by Really Awful Movies

Genre film reviewers covering horror and action films. Books include: Mine's Bigger Than Yours! The 100 Wackiest Action Movies and Death by Umbrella! The 100 Weirdest Horror Movie Weapons.

2 thoughts on “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

  1. TCM is absolutely one of the best experiences in the genre. So many of the classics have lost a little bit of their edge for me just because I’ve watched them so many times. Chainsaw is unusual in that regard because it still genuinely disturbs me.

    I enjoyed your podcast as well. This was the first one I listened to and it was fun. I got a chuckle when you discussed the Headcheese title. It’s hard to imagine if the series went in that direction with Leatherface: Headcheese III (now from the makers of A Nightmare on Elm Street) or Headcheese: The Next Generation.

    I fully expect to be laughed at for this, but I don’t mind TCM IV. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a disaster on almost every level, but it’s hypnotic. I hated it for many years but kept going back to see if I could piece something together. I’ve come around to it over the years but still can’t explain the allure. It’s not a good movie in any respect, but I can’t turn away – especially when Rothman comes on the screen. What the fuck is the matter with that guy? I’m not sure, but I love that part. It’s so insanely stupid, but it’s played completely straight.

    I’ve never been able to tell if Henkel was in on the joke with this movie or not. I can’t imagine someone making something like this on accident. I know my taste for this won’t make sense to most, but I would take a “bad” movie like this over stuff like Sharknado every time. Bad movies can be great, but not when you’re doing it on purpose and basically screaming “look how bad I am, pay attention to me!”

    On a related note, I would also take this one over any of the remakes/reboots or whatever that followed.


  2. Really glad you enjoyed the podcast. Our philosophy on bad movies is just the same as yours. A true “bad” movie can have charm, passion and a love for genre and the cinema that’s just endearing. A pseudo bad movie like Sharknado is just a cynical exercise in making money.

    Now, I must admit that I was so traumatized by the sheer awfulness of Chainsaw IV that I have never revisited it. Perhaps it’s time that I do. Maybe now I’ll see something I didn’t the first time.

    Liked by 1 person

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