A group of young adults go on a summer cruise in their van and along the way visits a graveyard in which lies the grandparents of Sally (Marilyn Burns) and her cripped brother Franklin (Paul A. Partian) but finds out that the grave was dug up.
Then they pick up a hitchhiker (Edwin Neal) whom is out of his head and then gets booted off as well along the way for acting crazy and causing damage to Franklin along with smearing blood on their van.
Their vehicle is low on gas and make a pit stop at the only station in the area run by an old man (Jim Siedow) as he tells them that he is out of fuel till the morning.
The group of friends go to visit a torn down house that was owned by the grandparents of Sally and Franklin. Franklin however is unhappy with the trip and ends up sulking. After he spots the blood on the van he is convinced that the person they picked up is trying to follow them.
Two of the friends Kirk (William Vail) and his girlfriend Pam (Teri McMinn) go off exploring and discovers a house run by a power generator and goes to check if they have any gasoline but no one answers the door. Kirk goes in and realises the house looks creepy and has a deadly encounter with one of the residents named Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen) whom is a retarded psychopath chainsaw wielding killer. Pam's luck just ran out too when she goes into the house to try to find him since he hasn't come out.
The rest realised that the two of them haven't come back and so Sally's boyfriend Jerry (Allen Danziger) goes and looks for them and enters the house.
Suddenly it's after dark
and Jerry hasn't returned with the rest of the crowd. Sally and Franklin are still waiting for them all alone. A deadly surprise is waiting for both of them when they search for them as well making their summer cruise a terrifying nightmare causing them their young lives in which a barbeque is about to happen at that home. But it's not your regular meat either.
The film starts off perfect and dark with a narration rolling up told by believe it or not John Larroquette in which he has a good deep seriousness to his voice giving it a nice effect and then great camera flashphotography on some corpses dug up from a graveyard in a grizzly piece of art. Another nice pointer for a beginning on a drive-in grindhouse type of slasher flick. Then some artwork showing the opening credits which almost looks like a planet such as Jupiter. I couldn't explain too much on what it was but it seemed to work in with the story.
With everyone going on a cruise in their van and being effected by the heat definetely looked convincing that it was as hot as well outside and stuffy inside the vehicle too. Then the van drives by some cattle with a slaughterhouse and Franklin discusses how the cattle gets killed which was well written in and a nice lead to what will happen later on in the story but in a shocking way.
More twisted moments like when Franklin's younger sister Sally goes to visit her grandparent's grave and later on finds out it's been dug up which makes things mysterious about a demented graverobber doing this deed as well as showing a crazy drunk lying on the ground acting crazy with his speech and Franklin spotting him. You kinda wonder if this drunk knows on what happens in the area of the demented killers that we will find out later on in the story.
The story really spices up when they pick up a hitchhiker and he looks as freaky as hell which convinces you he's a part of the horrifying events that will take place later on as well as showing everyone pictures on a slaghterhouse that him and his brother work at which also seems creepy of him. He does twisted things of course like cutting his hand and going crazy until he is booted out of the vehicle and then smearing his own blood in some sort of a symbol on the van as this looked twisted too.
Then when they go to a gas station as their running low on fuel the owner whom is an old man tells everyone that he is out of gas which works in greatly making these people almost stranded since no other gas stations are around as well as Franklin asking the old man about an area of abandoned houses where his late grandparents used to live and warns him the area is dangerous and could get hurt which was another nice moment in the writing which makes you suspect that he knows what goes on in that area. Defientely nice and mysterious with all of this.
When they visit the torn down house Franklin wonders if the hitchhiker they picked up was trying to follow them after spotting the blood on the van which definetely made me tremble which is certainly a creepy feeling and a perfect one liner too. Plus he also spots some decorations which looks like was made of skeletal bones which seems spooky making me wonder how it was placed there.
Also what is creepy is when a couple named Kirk and Pam go to a house they spot to see if they have any gas and there's supplies hung on trees or they even spot some abandoned vehicles stored away over a net which looked mysterious as to how they were placed there. Plus Kirk knocks on the door and it opens and there's some weird stuff inside which leaves a chill down your spine knowing for sure that this is a bad house but he still tries to see who's home but then when he tries to walk inside and trips over a stepcase we spot Leatherface whacking him over the head with a hammer as this was done in a good horror taste along with him dragging his body in and slamming a metal door shut. Ahh yes I always loved that moment which looked creepy.
But it gets more exciting as Pam enters a room of the house and spots grizzly stuff like a furniture made of skeleton bones and things being hung on strings. This was certainly spooky indeed and then Leatherface gets her and places her on a hook which is not a pleasant thought at all. This showed alot of good class for anyone who has a hard time with watching something painful. Next up Leatherface introduces his chainsaw as he is about to butcher dead Kirk with Pam seeing this and it was just cool on how he activated the chainsaw with smoke shooting out and he goes right in to do his demented deeds. Oh yes I love this moment as it's one of the best for spotting him using this chainsaw for the first time else it wouldn't be titled TCM.
There's even a moment when one of them named Jerry goes searching for Kirk and Pam and goes inside the house and opens a freezer door with Pam somewhat looking dead and then springs out barely alive as this defintely tripped me out thinking what the hell??? It was nicely put together in a good shocking fashion. Of course Leatherface is there with his sledge hammer. Then he looks out the window of his home to see if more are coming which already gives you a creepy feeling on what he plans to do next.
The setting looked perfect when it's after dark with Sally and Franklin waiting near the van worried as this looked incredibly spooky as well as them trying to call for Jerry and the rest along with beeping the horn on their van in which I found this to be a bad idea as Leatherface can hear this. Yes for you horror fans it gets spookier and spookier while watching this.
Also Sally is pushing Franklin through a wooded area and stuggling to do this which looked difficult to get through this and an easy target for Leatherface for sure especially with Franklin being helpless in his wheelchair. This was one of my favourite moments as it was still and dark and then they see a light which is at the house along with hearing the power generator which makes things even more scary as Franklin says he hears something and commands her to stop. Then the terror begins as what happens here will make you jump big time. It certainly scared me when I first saw this and it gave me nightmares. Incredibly effective even in today's standards on what happens here along with the low budget feel to it.
The best part is seeing Leatherface chasing after Sally with his chainsaw which looked very dark, deadly and scary as well as imaigining yourself being terrorised by a psychopath. Plus we spot her going into the home and seeing twisted stuff there including an old man lying in a chair making you wonder if he's a corpse or not. Also Leatherface saws the door down when Sally tries to lock it on him and saws it ina symbol of some sort too. A famous moment in the film is her crashing through a window of the house and falling to the ground which looked totally painful as well as her not thinking about an injury and still running or even hitting herself on a thick brnach of a tree close to losing conciousness which I was thinking "Oh no she's dead meat". Yet she manages to regain herself and keeps running but Leatherface is so close to her which is more frightening to watch. Watching this at night looked totally cool and suitable too.
Next you see her screaming and running to a gas station and falling onto the floor as the Old Man helps her up. Suddenly it's quiet again and hearing no chainsaw sounds as well as no Leatherface which seems a bit odd making you wonder if this old man is behind the mdaness here. Also we spot some meat barbequing but doesn;t look like your everyday type. This looked pretty cool too on how it was shot.
Then Sally is kidnapped to Leatherface and his family's home and they bring down what seems to be a corpse of an old man but he is alive which is creepy as well as her being tied up in a room where dinner is served and trust me this isn't your everyday meal which can seem quite sickening for horror fans who can't take it to the extreme for what is placed on the table as well as Sally being tormented and tortured half to death. It really gives you an intense feeling imagining if you were being kidnapped and having this happen to you which is anyone's worst nightmare. This was scary and effwective even in today's standards too.
Bottom line is that this film is incredibly frightening even in today's standards and like mentioned the low budget feel of this movie really works in well to the storyline here making it a drive-in Grindhouse type which is what I love here. It definetely inspired the slasher craze and was a one of a kind which can't be compared to any other type of film and reinged in as a cult classic and became mainstream over the years due to the subjects used in this flick. One of my favourite horror films too as it's very dark and disturbing. Many other films have imitated similar situations but nowhere near as good and 12 years later a sequel spawned when dark comedy was coming into horrorwhich may disappoint fans of this one. Based upon the real life events of Ed Gein. Nowhere as violent as it's reputed to be and no graphic violence either in which the killings are not fully exposed.
The acting has virtual unknowns in the film but alot of them acted out their parts quite well such as Marilyn Burns (Sally Hardesty) whom was a born natural and the best of the cast in which no one could ever do it better portraying someone whom is terrorised in which she brings out her madness and screaming intensity to the extreme. She shows nothing but great energy into her role as if she is really being that way and studying this part inside out. I've seen victims screaming in terror but never like her as I found her to be the most original actress in a horror flick and could see her continuing in other horror films too playing these types of roles. She became a cult item which isn't surprising at all. In some of the scene's she does well by getting frusterated as well as tired out which shows off nicely as well as groaning while pushing someone in a wheelchair in which she also looked believeable struggling to do all of this. Also she shows terrific wide eyed expressions and blood curdling screams while running away from the chainsaw killer which she shows a ton more energy here and bloody intense too. She doesn't let an ounce down in this situation at all. Also she does a good job limping in pain trying to run away as well as gasping for breath and losing control when she tries to ask for help in which this was brought together perfectly as well. Also she knew on how to show a great wide eyed expressions as well as screaming hysterically when she is kidnapped along with being tied up at the dinner table of these psychopaths as no one could've done it better than her.
Allen Danziger (Jerry) however was a bit wooden with his poerformance in which he seems very amateurish whenever he tries to act teasing like or showing off his humor. I just couldn't see his characteristics too much into the film and almost seems like a line reader instead of focusing on his role. Yet he does well with his scared reactions by what he spots in a freezer in a twisted type of house along with a perfect screaming reaction when he is attacked.
Paul A. Partian (Franklin Hardesty) really brought on his role quite clearly with his childish and whiney type of behavior in which he did a great job by doing this as well as having a good high pitched type of speaking too. He shows alot of decent energy into everything that he did in the film and stood out quite well within his performance. He does well with his reactions after discovering a slaughterhouse while in a van and getting into detail at what they do to cattle in which he was believeably obsessive. He also does a great job in certain situations like whining and crying when he's hurt. Plus shows nice stares at certain things like a bloodmark on the van he was riding in which he really expresses his concerns well with all of this. He does well does well by having mocking like attitude and behaving childish which looked energetic and life like too.
Gunnar Hansen (Leatherface) played the retarded chainsaw wielding maniac and although he had no lines he certainly did a superb job acting menacing and intimidating in what he did for his role as he just seemed so monstrous for doing what he did as well as seeming like a bit of a pussy later on when there was the kidnapping moments and about to get ready for supper. He focused on this character pretty good I must say. In his first appearance he certainly looked intimidating whacking a hammer on someone but he needed to show a bit more meancing than he was here. Still it wasn't bad at all. He shows a great mighty force by shutting a metal door which looked creepy in his performance here. He shows more great movements and blocking especially when he drags out his chainsaw and activates it hauling it down. Pretty powerful stuff here. He shows perfect adrenaline while charging towards someone with a hammer as well as going nuts running towards a window of his home in which he was perfectly mind boggling on what he was doing here. Also he shows terrific energised and horryfying energy charging in the dark with his chainsaw showing great wide eyed expressions as well as chasing after someone and not letting an ounce down while doing all of this.
Edwin Neal (Hitchhiker) was the second best actor in the film acting as crazy as he can for this role with a good hyperactive personality. He also showed off a good goofy but creepy evil type of behavior too coming across as someone who you'd want to stay away from and coming across as high strung too. Shows great deranged facial expressions too. For instance he really got into a scene by cutting his hand and losing control with everything surrounding this scene. Also he shows get blocking with his hyperactive attitude running out of a vehicle or running into the house as well as great expressions after he removes a sack from someone and discovering who it is and bringing up the hype big time which looked great here. He also knew on how to act crazy and wild while being taunting like at the dinner table with his crazed facial expressions and how he approached himself too. There's great clumsy and crazy running on him outside chasing after someone as well as going believeably wild cutting someone. He was definetely a perfect drawing card to the story here and is well remembered for everything that he did in his supporting role along with being another cult horror icon too.
Jim Siedow (Old Man) certainly showed a good eccentric old timer type of personality and really knew on how to act obnoxious with his aggressions too coming across as someone who is violently abusive towards others and showing alot of great negative energy to his role and showing great blocking using a broom stick swacking it down on others showing perfect insane energy along with his cackling showing perfect timing on this. He shows a good growly type of speaking too whenever he gets aggressive. He springs to life big time jumping up and down during a torturing moment on someone else and getting into this big time which loooked crazily great. Plus he had the right creepy type of looks too which was another bonus.
Teri McMinn (Pam) showed some decency into her character as she seems well focused into what she does by reading a magazine on astral signs as well as acting grossed out when there's a discussion on how animals are slaughtered etc. She shows natural reactions when she's surprised or turned off by something. She brings up the hype big time when she shows great freaked out expressions after falling down and spotting what is around her along with nice coughing and gagging reactions on her. She also does well screaming in terror while being grabbed alonmg with terrific swinging blocking movements on her arms and legs while trying to struggle away. She was really acting believeable while being tortured and crying in pain on a hook looking like she is really in that situation especially with her expressions being revealed on screen.
Sticky looking corpses are displayed near a tombstone
A hitchhiker stabs his hand with a knife
Franklin's arm is stabbed by a knife
Body parts are being barbequed in a store but it looks like regular meat
A piece of an arm is used as a furniture device
The hitchhiker gets run over by a truck but this is very quick and not bloody
A saw is cut on leatherface's leg but it's brief
Wayne Bell and Tobe Hooper were marvellous with their cheesy sounds which made the film effective and just as spooky as the movie itself in which you hear some screeching sounds with flash photography on the camera during the beginning of the movie on the corpses dug up from the graveyard as well as wavy type and crashing metal sounds for the opening credits of the film too. Plus there's low rusty rumbling sounds here and there during most of the outdoor scene's too. Also we hear metal clanging and wood clapping sounds especially during a moment when one of the young adults spot a room of the house where furniture was made of skeleton bones and objects like that which was my favourite sounds for the film. What really worked was some moaning type of effects during a still night when two people are waiting for their freinds who all haven't shown up which sounded very ghostly like. There's also metal clanging and hissing sounds too along with high pictched whistling type noises for the kidnapping sequence and the canniballistic feast too.
There's songtracks with artists that are played on a radio station in a van that has wimpy singing and guitar twanging music which is not my cup of tea but there is some old country songs played at a gas station which sounds a bit better.
Narrator: 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.
Franklin: They just shoot a bolt in their head, and then retract it. It's just BOOM-shht-BOOM-shht.
Sally: Franklin, I like meat. Please change the subject!
Franklin: [refering to the Hitchhiker] I think we just picked up Dracula.
Kirk: So, where you heading, man?
Franklin: You work at that place? The slaughter house?
Hitchhiker: Uh... no.
Sally: How'd you get stuck way out here?
Hitchhiker: I was at the slaughter house.
Franklin: I got an uncle who works in a slaughter house.
Hitchhiker: I used to work there. My brother did too. My grandfather too. My family's always been in meat!
Franklin: [quietly to Sally] A whole family of Draculas!
Franklin: Hey man, you ever go in that slaughter room or whatever they call it? The place where they shoot cattle in the head with that big air gun?
Hitchhiker: Oh, that gun's no good.
Franklin: I was in there once with my uncle.
Hitchhiker: The old way, with a sledge! You see that way's better. They die better that way.
Franklin: Well how come? I thought the gun was better?
Hitchhiker: Oh no, with the new way, people put out of jobs.
Franklin: Did you do that?
Hitchhiker: [digs through pouch for a few pictures] Look!
[Hands them to Franklin]
Hitchhiker: I was the killer!
Franklin: [looking at the pictures] Damn...
Hitchhiker: You could have dinner with us... my brother makes good head cheese! You like head cheese?
Jerry: That's the last goddamn hitchhiker I ever pick up.
Drunk: [laughs] Things happen here about, they don't tell about. I see things. You see, they say that it's just an old man talking. You laugh at an old man, it's them that laughs and knows better.
Jerry: Hi, Mister. Would you fill 'er up, please?
Old Man: I got no gas.
Kirk: What? You're all out of gas?
Old Man: My tank's empty! Transport woun't be here until late this afteroon. Mayby not even 'til tomorrow morning.
Franklin: Hey, do you know where the old Franklin place is?
Old Man: The old Franklin place?
Franklin: Yeah, it's an old two-story rock house that sitting up on a hill. I thought it might be back on that road someplace, but I'm not really sure.
Old Man: Uh... yeah, maybe I've seen something like that up that way. Well now look, you boys don't want to go messin' around some old house. Those things is dangerous. You're liable to get hurt. You don't want to go fooling around other folks' property. If some folks don't like it... they don't mind showing you.
Old Man: Those girls... those girls don't wanna go messin' round no old house!
Old Man: Look... I got some good barbecue here!
Franklin: (After spotting a blood smear on the van door) You don't think that guy's trying to follow us do you??
Kirk: What for?!
Franklin: If I have any more fun today I don't think I can take it!
[Kirk and Pam arrive at a large hole in the ground where a pond used to be]
Kirk: This must be it. The water hole. If Franklin's been a criple all his life, how do you suppose he got down here in his wheelchair?
Pam: I don't know. Maybe somebody carried him when he was little.
Kirk: Franklin never was "little".
Franklin: You aint mad at me are you?
Sally: No I'm not mad at you. It's just been a long day.
Jerry: Come on guys, quit goofing on me.
Old Man: [to Sally] There's no need to do that!
Old Man: [to Sally] Just take it easy now.
[to the captive Sally in his truck]
Old Man: Sorry to keep you waiting, young lady. I had to lock up the shop and turn the lights off. The cost of electricity these days is enough to drive a man like me out of business.
Old Man (Beating the Hitchhiker with a stick): I told you to stay away from that graveyard!!!!
Old Man: Look what your brother did to the door! Ain't he got no pride in his home?
Old Man: [to Leatherface] You... you damn fool! You ruined the door!
Hitchhiker: [to Sally] And, and I thought YOU was in a hurry!
Hitchhiker: [to Sally] You aint in no hurry and you aint going no place!
Sally: You can make them stop!!!!
Hitchhiker: No he can't!
Old Man: Shut up you bitch hog!
Hitchhiker: You just shut up and remember you're just the cook! And me and him'll handle this!
Old Man: Shut your mouth!
Old Man: I just can't take no pleasure in killing. There's just some things you gotta do. Don't mean you have to like it.
Old Man: Hit the bitch Grandpa!!!
Sally: Go! Go!