Dir: Tobe Hooper, 1974
The ultimate slasher film!
Tobe Hooper’s infamous, banned horror flick is pure terror. The film delivers everything a horror should.
Sally Hardesty, her wheelchair bound brother, Franklin and friends, Jerry, Kirk and Pam embark on a road trip to visit the grave of their grandparents, amidst stories of vandalism.
On their trip they come across, the Sawyer family. Pa, Drayton; owner of the petrol station. His son, the hitchhiker and Leatherface; a hulking, monster of a man who wears a mask made of human flesh. And then, there’s grandpa.
The Sawyer family are murderous cannibals, feasting on anybody who passes their way.
Anybody who wants to make a horror film should watch this. It truly is uncomfortable.
What is so odd about the film, is that there is very, very little blood in it, or even violence. Its adult rating comes squarely because of the tension, that Hooper builds.
He generates a real sense of threat and terror that no other film has managed to do.
Hooper and writer Kim Henkel, aimed for a PG rating which is why there is a lack of gore and violence. It’s so much better because of that.
The sheer tension and sense of dread that the film conveys was the sole reason for it’s ban in Great Britain.
The censors felt that the overriding feel of the film was just too much for UK audiences. The board and distributors looked at the possibility of making cuts but it wouldn’t be feasible. No matter how much you cut out, the overall tone and heavy feeling of terrorisation would still be there. It’s inherent in the film.
Consequently, the BBFC banned it. But, the distributors weren’t going to give up. The BBFC do not have the power to dictate to local councils on cinema certificates. The councils, though, DO have the power to overrule the BBFC if they so wish. And there’s nothing the board can do about it.
The distributors submitted The Texas Chain Saw Massacre to the Greater London Council. Seeing the film, the GLC took the view that the film could be shown in Greater London with an ‘X’ certificate. And, so it was. This, however, caused a ridiculous situation within the UK. All you had to do was take a little walk from one borough of London to another, and you could see it.
Texas Chain Saw was seen several times at the board, and each and every time, the director (our old friend, James Ferman) refused to pass it.
Several uncensored videos of the film was released in the early eighties, before the Video Recordings Act came into force. A popular title with video renters, the videos were quite the sellers for video distributors, Iver Film Services.
After the film was withdrawn from circulation, it was sent to the board on numerous occasions, all in the hope of finally gaining that elusive video certificate. Sadly, all to no avail.
And, then Ferman left. This left the doors wide open for all the films and videos that he had previously prevented from hurting us, to be unleashed. And, this film was one of the first out of the door.
In 1998, a print of the film was submitted to Camden council for a certificate, where it was granted an uncut ’18’.
Spurred on by this, the distributors sent the film to the board for a possible nationwide release. By contemporary standards, and the lack of Ferman’s stupidity and fascism, allowed the BBFC to pass the film uncut for cinema and, later, on video.
Since the lifting of the ban, the film has been re-released over and over again in special editions, super special editions, ultimate editions. Too many to mention, all using the ban to its advantage.
Search it out. Buy it. Rent it. Whatever. Just watch it. It’s brilliant.