Per legend, director Tobe Hooper was stuck in a long line at a department store when, imagining a way through the crowd, his eyes drifted to the hardware department before landing on the chainsaws.
Today, more than 40 years later, few can see a chainsaw without conjuring up images from Hooper’s infamous first movie: 1974’s “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”
Save arguably for “The Exorcist,” no movie in the annals of horror has more iconic images than the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre:”
The meat hook.
The room of bones, feathers and chickens.
All have scarred the imaginations and haunted the nightmares of movie audiences. From the original independent film to the unnecessary and silly sequels, the surprisingly good remake all the way through the parade of new “Beginnings” and 3D retreads, Leatherface continues to terrorize new generations of fans.
With a single sledgehammer swing, Leatherface created the archetype for the faceless (or in Leatherface’s case, borrowed faces) killer, methodically going about his business for no apparent reason other than he likes it.
Without Leatherface, there’d be no Pinhead, no Chucky, no Jason, no Michael, no Freddy, to name a few.
And perhaps no horror movie has gotten more mileage out of its own mythology than “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” Growing up, it was the movie that all adolescent boys had seen, had lied about seeing or knew a guy who knew a guy whose brother had seen it.
I had my dad driving all over town to find a video store that carried the VHS version, and it totally freaked me out. What I wouldn’t give to see THAT movie again for the first time. The years in between haven’t been very kind to “Massacre.”
It’s not nearly as scary as I remember. In fact, especially in the beginning and near the end, it’s pretty goofy – mostly because of Franklin, possibly the worst character in the history of horror films – but man can Sally scream and scream, run and scream, scream and run.
Call it the Eli Roth effect. Compared to modern buckets-of-blood horror movies, the original “TCM” is tame. In fact, it’s one of least-bloody horror movies of all time, largely because Hooper was going for a PG rating.
But still … Leatherface. Hate to think how boring life would be without sweet and cuddly Leatherface … and chainsaws … and the massacres they bring.