Thursday, October 18, 2012

After Thoughts...The Texas Chainsaw Massacre [1974] (spoilers)

Anyway you look at it, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a brutal, grotesque and horrifying movie.  It is also funny.  Well, sort of.  In a movie filled with psychotic torturers, chainsaws and meat hooks, director Tobe Hopper finds a way to shed some humor onto this densely laughless circumstance.  The humor of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre comes in the form of satire.  It is subtle, neatly positioned under what I would argue to be the most horrific scene in the entire movie.  Given its context, the terror erupting out this scene overwhelms anything “funny” about what is going on.  But it is still there.

The “funny” scene in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre comes in the movie after Sally has been captured, tied up to a chair made of human bones and seated at the table.  When she awakes to find herself here, she gives out a blood-curling scream.  There’s clearly nothing funny for her.  But still, in a sick way, this is also the funniest and probably only funny part of the movie.  Let me explain using this picture-

In a sick and perverted way, behind all the terror and fear that fills this room, there is the unforgettable and rather comedic dinner scene.  The whole family sitting down together for dinner is a classic piece of old Americana culture— like something out of a 1950s sitcom.

What we have here is easily the most disturbing family ever brought together on screen.  Nonetheless they are still a family.  We have the archetypical blue collar working father, spending his days working at the nearby gas station.  To his left is the psychotic hitchhiker.  He would logically take the role as the son— the classic wild and rebellious teenage type.  And that leaves Leatherface for the role of the mother.  He is actually a man and while he is explicitly said to be the older brother of the hitchhiker/son, at tonight’s dinner he is the mother.  Hooper takes this joke further by applying some blush and blue eye-liner onto Leatherface’s mask, making his role as the mother clearer.  Then of course, there’s Grandpa in the back completing the family tree.

Whether this scene is actually funny or just makes the movie a whole lot creepier just depends on your perspective, but regardless of what it does, I would say it does that job really well.  Decide for yourself, what do you think?



  1. Excellent write-up. I think that scene is funny, but in a if-I-don't-laugh-I'm-going-to-have-a-stroke kind of way. Sometimes I just have to laugh it off as a means of staying sane.

    Really though, this is one of the more terrifying scenes I've ever witnessed in a film.

    1. I feel the exact same way. The laughter is forced. This is definitely one of the most terrifying scenes I've ever witnessed, but at the same time, its also one of my favorites.

      What a creepy family.