Saturday, October 31, 2015

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Museum of the Grotesque

Some of the more interesting aspects of Texas Chainsaw Massacre have nothing to do with Leatherface and everything to do with the environment, the family, etc. You get the feeling that the universe is collapsing in on its travelers.

There's the corpse at the beginning.

The armadillo on road, here reproduced by Jason Edmiston for his gorgeous take on a TCM poster: 

The hitchhiker: 

Leatherface may have the chainsaw which makes up for 1/4th of the title of the film, but if there ever was a villain for TCM, it would have to be the hitch hiker. Bubba/Leatherface is one of those guys that does the bidding of his brother and the rest of the family.


I've heard more than a few people complain about this character. Yet he acts as a key component to an interesting theory: What if this whole trip was Franklin's revenge fantasy? Think about it. Nobody wants him on the trip. Nobody helps him. They treat him like dirt. 

And as far as his ultimate fate is concerned, the answer is simple: self martyrdom. What would cause Sally more grief than for her to watch her own brother get chainsawed into pieces right in front of her? 

The nest of Daddy long legs: 
The sound design and the almost otherwordly sprawl of this nest is chilling. 

Beyond just the thwack of the sledgehammer, notice how four of the five protagonists are  not aware of the gruesome fate that awaits them or their friends. There is nothing explained or rationalized between them about what is going on. Much different from Psycho which came before or Halloween which came after. There is no psychiatrist to explain Norman Bates or a Dr. Loomis. We learn nothing about Leatherface, the Hithhiker or Grandpa. Not only that, there are no authority figures such as cops here. We are truly on our own. 

Feathers n' bones:
This is where the inspiration for Texas Chainsaw shines through the most. At the age of four, Tobe Hooper first heard about the news reports about the gruesome discoveries at Ed Gein's house. Here we see bones stretched across couches. Feathers and bone fragments piled together and strewn about the floor. A chicken flocking away inside of a cage. All of these artifacts are totems of chaos. They are showing the order of the world overturned by disarray. 

The rotting corpse in the attic: 

Grandpa Sawyer
He is implied to be a mass murderer yet we only see him on his last days here. Where is his prequel film? 

Three films preceeded this one and were able to stand on their own in unique ways (more on that for another time). For now, I'm just happy that a film like TCM exists. It stands as one of the more terrifying experiences I had watching a movie for all of the above reasons, 


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