If each era has its own horror film, then the lucky 1970s got both The Exorcist and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Tacked on to the end of a Walter Matthau film for its San Francisco debut, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre drove the cheesecloth-wearing crowd to storm the lobby, demanding money back with menaces. Many people have seen the underwhelming 2003 remake, starring a then fairly unknown Jessica Biel as the scream queen in a tight white t shirt. But for sheer economical film-making – and meanness of budget – you can’t beat the original. It’s based on the true story of Ed Gein, the handyman with a penchant for graverobbing, a story which Hitchcock borrowed for Psycho and which got borrowed again, later on, for Saw. Once The Texas Chain Saw Massacre has got its opening introductions out of the way (young kids in a camper van shooting the breeze), it’s just horror, screaming, running, dead meat, panic, chainsaws and more screaming. And then more screaming. A mate of mine who saw it in 1980 is still a vegetarian. And if that doesn’t convince you, Joe Bob Briggs, king of the drive-in movie review, once opined “Saw is still king”. But then he did have a cameo on the 1986 sequel, so he might have been biased.
© Steve Morrissey 2013