Thursday, October 28, 2010


I'm not going to do one of those top ten horror films posts, mainly because it would be Halloween at #1 and everything else jostling for second-place.

Anyway, Rol said:
Since it was banned in the UK as a video nasty throughout my youth, I expected to be disappointed by [The Texas Chainsaw Massacre] when I finally saw it. Disappointed, I was not. Disturbed, I was. Not by the expected scenes of chainsaw torture - which turned out to be mercifully few and actually quite restrained - but instead by the scene at the dinner table where Grandpa's corpse starts sucking the girls finger and she screams... and screams... and screams... and screams.

I was expecting something horrendous, so when my film buff mate Chris got his hands on a grainy VHS copy from some former colony -- this was a couple of years before the ban was lifted -- we sat and watched with high expectations; after all, it had to be banned for a reason, right?

It wasn't horrible in the slightest. Rather, it was quite silly, and I found myself laughing throughout. The bit Rol describes, where the family are trying to get the emaciated almost-corpse grandpa to bash the girl's head in with a mallet, but he keeps dropping the hammer because it's too heavy for his withered hands, struck me as pure slapstick. The way the kids casually leave their wheelchair-bound friend to be hacked up with the titular tool had to be a joke, surely. And of course the whole thing was a blatant Scooby Doo pastiche, complete with a camper van full of kids investigating a mystery and the monster being the man from the local meat-packing factory wearing a mask. All they were missing was the dog.

For years I considered the film a failure, all hype and no substance. Friends reported that they found it just as scary and disturbing as its reputation suggests, so I started to wonder if I'd missed something. Then, in the third episode of A History of Horror, Mark Gatiss interviewed director Tobe Hooper, who confirmed that the film is, in fact, supposed to be funny. Probably not the silly laugh-fest I still see it as, but not the gruelling nihilistic shocker it's been characterised as, either.

I feel more well-inclined to the film now, so I think I'd like to see it again, to see if it's still as funny as I remember.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not sure it's a film that stands up to repeated viewings. I tried watching it again a few years back and it rather annoyed me. Some horror flicks are like that though, they only work once.