I feel that this movie gets the shaft when discussing the OG’s of slashers. Everybody has this odd proverbial hard on for Carpenter’s Halloween, and I have always favored this film instead. Plus it came out years ahead of it’s time. We also lost director Tobe Hooper this year, so let’s do this in honor of him. We will be writing up a spoiler filled synopsis, so feel free to skip over that and hop down to my Final thoughts and rating at the end of the blog. Enjoy.
I really asked if this was real after watching the opening when I was a kid. My mom had no clue, I think she said it was. Good for her lying to my dumbass. So we have Sally and Franklin, who are siblings, and visit their grandfather’s grave. Franklin is in a wheelchair. We also have Jerry, Kirk, and Pam, but let’s face it, they are cannon fodder. Was it a prerequisite for all horror movies in the 70’s to have a van? Jerry has great hair and a great shirt. Franklin talking about how the cows are slaughtered, just ridiculous, and then they pick up the hitchhiker. We get him and Franklin talking cattle, then he steals Franklin’s pocket knife and cuts himself and giggles. This guy is so nutty, but set the stage for what’s to come. He invites the gang to have dinner with his family and takes a picture of them, but it’s not very good, so he decides he is going to light it on fire, and then takes out his razor and cuts Franklin’s arm. Poor Franklin. Pam won’t shut the fuck up about horoscopes, so we know who I want to die first every times, but it never happens first. Sally doesn’t believe in bras, and I thank her.
They make it to the house and nobody is helping Franklin, so he is just bitchy, and hilarious. Kirk and Pam go off to find a swimmin’ hole, but it’s all dried up. On the plus side, they see a barn and hear a generator and hope to get some gas. Kirk goes in the house while Pam sits outside pissed, and he hears a pig squeal. Well, he meets Mr. Leatherface and his friend, the sledgehammer. The imagery inside the house is just wonderful. All the bones and feathers, it’s something to just soak in. Pam is in a very bad room with lots of tools. She tries to leave, but Leatherface snags her and places her ass on a meathook, well not her ass, but you get it. He starts cutting up Kirk with the chainsaw and Pam has to watch. Jerry goes looking for Kirk and Pam while Sally and Franklin stay at the van, and she is pissed at him. Jerry hears noises in the house and he walks in. Like everybody just walks in to stranger’s houses like it’s nothing. Jerry opened the freezer to find Pam, and Leatherface just hammered Jerry in the head. I bet ole Leatherface was so happy to have that many visitors, but maybe not.
It’s now nighttime and Sally and Franklin are getting worried. Franklin thinks that they should go back to the gas station, but Sally wants to go looking for them. Awww, they don’t have the keys to the van. Sally’s hard nipples really wants the flashlight, but Franklin doesn’t want to give it up. He insists on going with her to look. They keep yelling for Jerry, but wouldn’t it be more efficient to yell for Pam and Kirk with their monosyllabic names? They hear something. Ohhh. It’s Leatherface and Franklin just got tore up in that wheelchair. Run, Sally, run!!!
We now have a 25 minute chase scene quintessentially, and old Leatherface is fast for his size. She runs right to his place because she sees some lights on. She runs in the house and goes upstairs, of course she does. She finds a room with 2 bodies in clothes and chairs, so that’s nice. She starts back down the stairs, but he’s heading up so she just leapt through a window. Typical female running and falling down. They make it to the gas station, and she never stops screaming, but fortunately the guy who owns the shop is there to help her.
The guy offers to drive her to Childress since he has no phone. He comes back with the truck, a burlap sack and rope. He attacks her with a broom. He’s tying her up and gagging her. Thank you sir. Sick of her screaming. He put his sack over her face….HA! She is whimpering so he starts prodding her with the broom stick. As he’s driving, he comes across the hitchhiker and this dude starts beating his ass. So the old dude is the daddy of Leatherface and the hitchhiker. Daddy is pissed that Leatherface ruined the door. This is fucking hilarious. Time to get Grandpa. Awww, we finally hear the name Leatherface for the first time. Allllright! Granpa has seen better days. Grandpa is sucking on Sally’s cut finger and he is one happy pappy.
Sally passes out, but when she comes to, she is strapped to a chair at the dining room table, and she screams so the brothers start howling. Hitchhiker starts berating his daddy, saying that he’s only a cook. She has really beautiful eyes. They want to let Grandpa have a whack at her. Grandpa was the best ar killing. He can’t really hold a hammer anymore. He tries, and he finally gets her. But then she leaps out a window and gets to trying to escape. Hitchhiker is out after her first followed by leatherface hauling ass. He is cutting her back up from behind. Then a black dude in the Black Maria truck comes up, runs over and kills the hitchhiker. Poor Leatherface falls and cuts his thigh and she gets picked up by a pickup truck, and Leatherface stays out in the road just swinging that chainsaw wildly in disappointment.
Final Thoughts – When I think of the perfect 70’s looking horror flick, this is what comes to mind. Visually, it is incredible. It feels so rustic and unfiltered and I mean that in a good way. The deaths were short, and Sally screams for way too long, but it was a good time. Leatherface is most definitely silly in a way, but I love the crazy killing family angle. It just worked really well together. Also, I loved that Franklin was wheelchair bound. It was different seeing that kind of character in this type of film.
Rating: 7.6 seems appropriate given how many films I have enjoyed over the years have openly borrowed from im.
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