In memory of Tobe Hooper, we’re revisiting this article about his twisted horror franchise.
Welcome to Dissected, where we disassemble a band’s catalog, a director’s filmography, or some other critical pop-culture collection in the abstract. It’s exact science by way of a few beers. This time, we sort through the best and worst of Leatherface’s bloody, grizzly, and cannibalistic run of horror.
When The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was released 40 years ago, few, if any, anticipated that it would revolutionize the horror genre. With a budget of little more than $300,000, the film went on to make more than $30 million domestically, making it one of the most profitable low-budget films of all time and inspiring horror fans everywhere to produce their own cheap indie flicks. For better or worse, we probably wouldn’t have a Blair Witch Project or Paranormal Activity without Tobe Hooper leading the way. But Chain Saw also impacted the content of its descendants, setting the stage for grislier death scenes and proving the effectiveness of the masked, silent killer as an enduring archetype.
After the success of the first Chain Saw, Tobe Hooper and co-writer Kim Henkel were approached to do a handful of sequels. Three films followed, and then came three more after a recent reboot. Sadly, none of those six movies managed to capture the spirit of the original. Regardless, we’ve set out to break them all down, laying bare their commonalities and salient features. So, as the antagonists of these films might say after setting down a platter full of unidentified sausages, bon appétit.