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"The film which you are about to see is an account of the tragedy which befell a group of five youths, in particular Sally Hardesty and her invalid brother, Franklin. It is all the more tragic in that they were young. But, had they lived very, very long lives, they could not have expected nor would they have wished to see as much of the mad and macabre as they were to see that day. For them an idyllic summer afternoon drive became a nightmare. The events of that day were to lead to the discovery of one of the most bizarre crimes in the annals of American history, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre."
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974).jpg
Title: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Directed by: Tobe Hooper
Written by: Tobe Hooper
Kim Henkel
Produced by: Tobe Hooper
Kim Henkel
Jay Parsley
Richard Saenz
Music by: Tobe Hooper
Wayne Bell
Cinematography: Daniel Pearl
Edited by: Larry Carroll
Sallye Richardson
Distributed by: Vortex, Inc.
New Line Cinema
Bryanston Distributing
Released: October 1st, 1974
Rating: R
Running time: 83 min.
Country: USA
Language: English
Budget: $83,532 (estimated)
Gross: $30,859,000 (USA)
Next: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is an independent American horror film directed by Tobe Hooper in 1974. It is considered by many to be the grandfather of the revisionist "slasher" film genre that grew out of the 1970s and gave birth to the iconic horror film killer Leatherface. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre spawned three sequels and was re-made in 2003 by director Marcus Nispel. The 2003 film included a prequel film released in 2006 entitled, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. The plot of the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre revolves around five teenagers who are driving through Muerto County, Texas on an idyllic, summer afternoon when they suddenly find themselves the targets of a family of vicious cannibals.

Plot[edit | edit source]

"Only parts of the corpses have been removed."

It is August 18th, 1973 in Muerto County, Texas. The film starts with the sounds of digging. We then see photograph flashes of various disinterred human remains; hands, skulls, ribs etc. In the background, a radio broadcast reveals that local police have found a total of twelve tombs vandalized at the Muerto County Cemetery in the town of Newt.

We then cut to a shot of the roadside where we see the upended remains of a dead armadillo, an apparent victim of road kill. The radio broadcast continues detailing various reports of grim violence from around the nation. Driving down the road are five hippies en route to an old family cottage. Included in the group are Jerry, the driver of the van; Kirk, a guitar player; Pam, an astrology enthusiast; Sally Hardesty, a girl with long, blond hair, and her invalid brother, Franklin Hardesty.

Jerry pulls the van off to the side of the road, so Franklin can relieve himself. Franklin wheels himself onto the shoulder and begins urinating into a tin cup. A truck rushes by scaring him and he loses control of his wheelchair and tumbles down a gully into the weeds. The others hoist him back up into the van and continue on their way. As they are driving, they pass a slaughterhouse. Franklin comments on the rank smell and begins telling stories of how his father used to slaughter cows at the abattoir in their home town. As they drive along, they stop at the Muerto County Cemetery. Sally and Franklin's grandfather is buried here and she wants to make sure that his grave wasn't one of the ones that were vandalized. Satisfied with her findings, she climbs back into the van and they continue on their way.

They find a strange looking hitchhiker thumbing down the side of the road. Fearful that he might pass out in the unforgiving heat, they agree to pick him up.

The hitchhiker is an ugly man with stringy black hair and a severe burn across his right cheek. Franklin and he begin exchanging opinions on the practices of cattle slaughtering. Without warning, the hitchhiker suddenly grabs Franklin's knife from him and begins slicing open his own hand. The group is repulsed by this display of sadomasochism, but for some reason, they don’t kick him out of the van. The hitchhiker also has a camera with him. He snaps a picture of Franklin and demands two dollars for the print. When Franklin refuses to pay him, he burns the photograph, causing billows of smoke that fills up the van. During the hysteria, he withdraws his own straight razor and slices Franklin across the arm. The hippies have finally had enough of the bizarre man and kick him out of the vehicle. As the van is pulling away, the hitchhiker wipes a smear of blood across the side panel.

They drive along for a little while longer until they stop for gas at a local Bar-B-Q pit. They talk to the station manager who explains that his gas tanks are dry. The kids buy some Bar-B-Q and continue until they get to their destination – the Franklin house, which once belonged to Sally and Franklin's maternal grandparents.

Sally and the others rummage through the remains of the two-story stone home while Franklin is left floundering about downstairs. He grows increasingly agitated. The heat, his wounds and his lack of mobility send him into a fit and he begins sputtering to himself, mocking the antics of the hitchhiker. He also finds a small nest of animal bones, but neglects to tell any of the others.

Pam and Kirk decide to visit the local water hole. They travel down a long path between two old sheds at the back of the property and continue until they hear the sounds of a motor running. Over the hill is a barn and an accompanying farmhouse. Kirk figures that maybe they could buy some gasoline from whomever owned the house. Finding no one at the barn, they approach the porch to the farmhouse. After numerous unanswered inquiries Kirk goes inside the house. He walks into the kitchen where a large man with a bloody apron and a flesh mask stands waiting. This is Leatherface. Leatherface is a cannibal who wears the skinned face of his victims as a mask. He clubs Kirk several times with a ball peen hammer and drags his twitching body into the back.

When Kirk fails to return outside, Pam begins to get impatient. She enters the house and stumbles into a side room, which is filled with varying human remains. Furniture is assembled from bleached human bones and a chicken trapped in a cage hangs clucking overhead. Pam goes into hysterics from the grim sight and Leatherface attacks her from behind. He drags her screaming into the kitchen and hangs her on a large meat hook. Before her dying eyes, he then begins to sever Kirk’s head with a large chain saw.

Meanwhile back at the Franklin home, Sally and her brother begin arguing. Franklin is obsessed over his experience with the hitchhiker and is convinced that the man is going to come looking for him. Sally is sick and tired of listening to his whining and she begins to get concerned over the disappearance of her friends. Jerry decides to go and look for them.

Jerry follows the trail and ultimately arrives at the same dilapidated farmhouse. He knocks several times until he hears a muffled cry coming from inside the house. He races in and walks into the kitchen. Upon opening an ice-chest he sees Pam's bleeding body flopping about. Surprisingly, the girl had managed to survive being hung upon a meat hook up until this point. Leatherface leaps out and strikes Jerry several times with his hammer.

As nighttime approaches, the others have yet to return to the van and Franklin and Sally grow increasingly impatient. After arguing over a flashlight for some time, they decide to go into the woods in search of their friends. They get about halfway from the road to the farmhouse when Leatherface leaps out again and viciously guts Franklin several times with his chainsaw. Sally runs away screaming.

Leatherface chases her through the woods until she comes upon the farmhouse itself. Sally has no idea that she is actually fleeing into the lion's den. She closes the front door behind her and Leatherface takes to it with his chainsaw. Sally runs upstairs where she finds a small bedroom. In it are what appear to be two rotting corpses of unknown age sitting in a set of rocking chairs. Panic stricken, she flees out the window.

She continues to run until she reaches the Gas and Bar-B-Q store the group had visited earlier. The storeowner lets her in and closes the door behind him. Sally eases back thinking that she is safe. Unexpectedly, the storeowner turns around and begins beating her repeatedly with a broomstick. He actually snaps the broom in half, but keeps beating on her until she is nearly unconscious. He throws her in a burlap sack and heaves her into his pickup. As they drive off, he prods and pokes at her limp form with the broom handle. The pickup pulls up to the farmhouse where they find the hitchhiker hopping around in the front yard.

Its at this time that the viewer realizes that the shop owner, the hitchhiker and Leatherface are all related. The older man berates the hitchhiker at length and warns him about messing around in graveyards (it was the hitchhiker who had been vandalizing the Muerto County cemeteries).

They take Sally into the house and pull the bag off of her head. As the girl revives, the hitchhiker goes upstairs to get Grandpa. Though he appeared as a desiccated corpse when Sally first encountered him, the grey, withered old man is actually still alive. They bring Grandpa down and set him at the head of the dining room table. Sally is tied to a chair and placed at the opposite end. The family takes turns teasing and tormenting her. They decide to let Grandpa have the honors of killing her. They give the old man a hammer and lean Sally’s head close to him. The hitchhiker slices her finger and lets Grandpa suck the blood from the wound. This gives Grandpa just enough added vitality that he begins rocking in his chair like a baby. The family hands him a hammer and he swings it down towards Sally’s head. His manual dexterity isn’t what it used to be however and he misses most of the time. The hitchhiker helps out a bit by taking the hammer from Grandpa’s hand and slamming Sally across the back of the skull.

Sally eventually manages to escape from their clutches and flees from the house. The hitchhiker and Leatherface give chase and the hitchhiker manages to slice her several times across the back with his switchblade. Sally runs out onto the middle of the highway. The hitchhiker follows suit but is struck by an oncoming eighteen-wheeler. The truck skids to a stop and the driver gets out just as Leatherface gets to the road. He throws a wrench at Leatherface, which manages to drive him to the ground. As he lands, his own chainsaw blade grazes his leg, cutting him badly. Sally manages to hitch a ride with another passing vehicle, leaving Leatherface screaming in rage in the center of the road.

Cast[edit | edit source]

Notes & Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • Copyright Holder: Vortex, Inc., © MCMLXXIV
  • The original working title for this film was Headcheese.
  • The tagline for this film is, "Who will survive and what will be left of them?".
  • Tobe Hooper won the 1976 critics award at the Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival for The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
  • Despite the title of the film, only one character, Franklin Hardesty, is actually killed by a chainsaw.

Characters[edit | edit source]

In alphabetical order

Franklin Hardesty
Franklin Hardesty was the invalid brother of Sally Hardesty. He was attacked by the hitchhiker and later gutted by Leatherface. He is the only victim to actually die by chainsaw.
Grandma Sawyer is a deceased woman and the former wife of Grandpa Sawyer. Her skeletal remains are left resting in a rocking chair in an upstairs bedroom in the Sawyer farmhouse. Grandpa Sawyer usually sits next to her.
Main article: Grandpa Sawyer. Grandpa is an ancient man and the eldest member of the Sawyer family. His skin is so wrinkled and aged that he gives the appearance of being dead. He usually sits in an upstairs room across from the skeletal remains of his late wife. Leatherface, the Cook and the Hitchhiker brought Grandpa downstairs where they revitalized him by feeding him blood from Sally hardesty.
Main article: Nubbin Sawyer. Initially known only as the Hitchhiker, this crazed maniac was responsible for robbing graves at the Muerto County Cemetery. He caught a ride with Jerry, Pam, Kirk, Sally and Franklin. He later assisted in the capture of Sally Hardesty, but was killed by an oncoming cattle truck while pursuing her after she managed to escape.
Jerry was the bespectacled driver of the van that brought his four friends and he through Muerto County. Jerry was the Leatherface's third victim and was beaten to death with a hammer while trying to find out what happened to Kirk and Pam.
Kirk was a guitar-playing hippie who accompanied four others on an ill-fated road trip across Muerto County, Texas. He was romantically linked to a girl named Pam. After stopping at their friends’ grandparents’ place, Kirk and Pam walked across a field to a farmhouse hoping to get some gasoline. Kirk was the first to enter the house, and the first to be killed by the masked Leatherface. Leatherface bashed Kirk across the head with a mallet, then later decapitated him with a chainsaw.
Leatherface is a mentally-challenged man who wears the flesh of the dead over his face as a mask. He prepares meat for the cook and uses a chainsaw to kill his victims. Leatherface is responsible for the deaths of Kirk, Pam and Jerry.
The opening monologue from the film is narrated by John Larroquette (Night Court; Boston Legal)
Old Man
Main article: Drayton Sawyer. Also known as the "Cook", Drayton Sawyer was the eldest functioning member of the Sawyer family. He worked at a gas station/bait shop and was responsible for capturing Sally Hardesty and bringing her back to the Sawyer farmhouse.
Pam was an astrology enthusiest who was romantically linked to a guitarist named Kirk. Pam and Kirk came to the Sawyer farmhouse looking for gas. Instead, what they found was the cannibal known as Leatherface. Pam was Leatherface's second victim. He killed her by hanging her on a meat hook then sealing her inside of a freezer.
Sally Hardesty
Main article: Sally Hardesty. Sally Hardesty was the sister of Franklin Hardesty. She drove out with her brother and their three friends to Muerto County to make certain that their grandfather's grave had not been desecrated during a recent rash of grave robbing incidents. On this journey, the five youths ran afoul of a family of cannibalistic serial killers. Sally Hardesty was the only one of the five to survive the encounter.

Related pages[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

External Links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

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Film Series
This article relates to the films within the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise. This template will categorize articles that include it into the Texas Chainsaw Massacre Films category.
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This article relates to the works of film maker Tobe Hooper.
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