Few would argue against the original Chain Saw Massacre as being anything but a classic of the horror genre. Its influence lasted for decades afterwards, still reverberating today when horror movies opt for grimy, gritty, gross-out realism. With respect to the sequel, which was filmed and released a full 12 years later, the debate is still wide open. It has been equally lambasted and praised, sometimes for the very same reasons, such as not paying one iota of respect to the tone of the original.
The original 1982 Poltergeist, directed by Tobe Hooper, opens with an apt image: an extreme close-up of a television set. Not only does the object prove pivotal to the film’s narrative, but the close proximity of the camera to the screen imbues the television with a strange, almost alien quality. Though it simply plays the national anthem over patriotic imagery, the signature sign-off for most TV stations in the 1980s, the close-up distorts the pictures and renders them wholly indeterminable. For a film that explores the dark unknowns that lie beneath the seemingly innocent and ordinary, Poltergeist certainly knows how to prime its audience for what’s to come.
When someone hears the title The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, they might just pass it off as just another inane slasher flick, but in fact Texas is much more; it’s a relentlessly agonizing, bleak masterpiece of horror cinema. Texas isn’t merely interested in scaring its audience; it’s an intelligent and visceral experience which examines the darker impulses found in people, a movie where unspeakably horrific acts take place mostly outside of the frame.