Sunday, 2 April 2017

The 9th Hall Of Fame Inductee Representing Horror Film - The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) - Tobe Hooper

Upon it’s initial 1974 release, Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was met with a mixture of responses, varying from “despicable” (Linda Gross, Los Angeles Times), to being hailed as the most important horror film since George A. Romero’s Night Of The Living Dead (Patrick Taggart, Austin-American Statesman). Among the most notable aspects of the release is that Hooper was originally seeking the MPAA to give the film, complete and uncut, a PG rating. Not surprisingly, it was originally rated X, before a resubmitted cut version received an R rating. Now, from a technical standpoint the film, with its minimal degree of onscreen gore could pass for a lower certificate, but it is completely understandable in this case that it would be rated higher. In a testament to the film’s lasting power, it remains one of the most outright terrifying films ever made. Overcoming budgetary limitations and all manner of things involved in the tough shoot (namely working sixteen-hour days, seven days a week in humid, hot temperatures over one-hundred degrees Fahrenheit/forty degree Centigrade), Hooper and co created what in many ways is a textbook example of guerrilla filmmaking. Daniel Pearl’s darkly lit camerawork highlights the grotty, grubby grunginess of the film’s overall production design (by art director Robert A. Burns), and mixed together with the frenetic editing of Larry Carroll and Sallye Richardson create a visual assault on the senses. Even the sound design and score by Hooper and Wayne Bell, which mixes together distorted found sound recordings, narration/monologues and all manner of clattering instruments that sound like pots and pans being bashed together, aurally sounds like something emanating from the seven circles of hell. With it’s deft deconstruction of contemporary America on several fronts through the Sawyer family (including the iconic Leatherface) and their victims, it is a work, that in the words of Stephen King, he “would happily testify to its redeeming social merit in any court in the country.” But we can never forget it’s cerebral barrage; King also called a work of “cataclysmic terror;” the late Wes Craven wondered “what kind of Mansonite crazoid” could have created such a thing; banned or censored in over a dozen countries at different points, including the United Kingdom and Ireland, critic Rex Reed called it the most terrifying film he had ever seen.

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