Sunday, February 13, 2011

"That's the last hitchhiker I ever pick up."

Film: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), directed by Tobe Hooper.

According to Box Office Mojo this film was rated number 3 in 1974 with a gross of almost 31 million dollars. Continually for years now I have heard how this movie was amazing in all aspects and something that sits on the pedestal of horror films. I fear that I must disagree with that thinking. 

This film, for me, lacked many things that I feel should be in a horror film; timing, suspense, lighting, etc. Without such things, made me bored and tired. I almost fell asleep a few times! The disappointment I feel towards this movie has much to do with the low budget and lack of technology compared to now. Not that horror films require the technology we have now but because I have grown with the technology around me, it makes it hard for me to enjoy films that others have found to be so awesome.

“Observe due measure, for right timing is in all things the most important factor.” -Hesiod

One of the things lacking in this film was timing. It first started off very slow, went very quickly about half way through the movie, and then slowed down for the last part of the film. This timing made the film seem disjoint and choppy. It didn't flow smoothly from act to act. Though an upside to this disjoint makes it very easy for the viewer to identify all 3 acts of the film. For the first 35 minutes of the film nothing really happens except the kids on the trip pick up and then drop off a hitch-hiker. Then for another maybe 20-30 minutes four of the five kids are killed off almost back to back. Then that leaves about another 30 minutes of so for Leatherface to chase the remaining kid around the property until he either kills her or she gets away. The timing for this film wasn't put together quite right for my tastes.


Lighting...Oh the lighting. Another major turn-off for me towards this film was the lighting. I couldn't grab the suspense that I wanted to feel because I couldn't see anything going on. The sets were lighted so poorly that it was hard to tell what was going on in the film. Franklin, a major character who was a subject to his wheelchair, hurt himself somehow once the kids reached the house but I'm not sure what really happened cause the area he was at was almost black. I am for certain that the reason this film was not lighted properly was because of the budget they lacked, but because it was not lighted correctly I did not enjoy as I know I should have.

So far in this semester I have come to realize that there is a fine line for making a good horror film and it is very difficult walking this line. Too much blood and gore and the film becomes distasteful and disgusting (which I know some directors want that). Not enough substance in the plot and the film becomes boring and predictable. It is hard constructing a good horror film that everyone will appreciate. I guess that is why the "classics" are so few and rare.


Next week: Creatures--> The Blob and Lake Placid 


P.S. I CANT BELIEVE THEY LIED TO ME!! I trusted them and they betrayed me!! :)


  1. Have you considered the fact that he wants it lowly lit for a different reason? This film is really about suspense or thrills jumping out at you. It's about the horror of the rural space, families, etc. Did you have a good copy of the film? Because it should be very clear why Franklin is hurt and the lighting is not as dark as you describe.
    You might want to consider opening up your definition of horror a bit more because suspense can be part of it, but it doesn't have to be. Have you seen Psycho yet?
    These filmmakers did have a low budget, but not so low that they couldn't light the scenes. You might consider thinking about why a director made the choices he did rather than assuming he didn't have enough money. Lighting the set doesn't cost that much money...

  2. I know that lighting is an important part of thrillers and horrors. Well with all films. But I just couldn't see hardly anything at all! :) My mom bought an unopened copy for the movie too.