The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

USA, 1974
16mm [blown up to 35mm], colour, 1.85:1
mono, English

An American horror film directed by Tobe Hooper. The first in a franchise (it was remade in 2003) it faced censorship issues when it was first released but has since become one of the most influential films in the genre.

Plot Summary

Five young people touring remote parts of rural Texas fall foul of a monstrous cannibal clan. The group is whittled away one-by-one by the chainsaw wielding until only Sally is left. She's captured and taken to the family's home where she is prepared as the main course in their evening meal…


Directed by: Tobe Hooper
© MCMLXXIV [1974] by Vortex, Inc.
A Vortex/Henkel/Hooper production. A film by Tobe Hooper
Executive Producer: Jay Parsley
Producer: Tobe Hooper
Story & Screenplay: Kim Henkel and Tobe Hooper
Cinematographer: Daniel Pearl
Editors: Sallye Richardson, Larry Carroll
Music Score: Tobe Hooper, Wayne Bell
Location Sound Recording: Ted Nicolaou
Makeup: Dorothy Pearl
Grandfather's Makeup: W.E. Barnes
Art Director: Robert A. Burns

Marilyn Burns (Sally Hardesty)
Allen Danzinger (Jerry)
Paul A. Partain (Franklin Hardesty)
William Vail (Kirk)
Teri McMinn (Pam)
Edwin Neal (hitch hiker)
Jim Siedow (old man)
Gunnar Hansen (Leatherface)
John Duggan (grandfather)
Robert Courtin (window washer)
William Creamer (bearded man)
John Henry Faulk (storyteller)
John Larroquette (narration)


Alternative Titles

Blutgericht in Texas – Germany
Leatherface – working title
Massacre aux tronconneuses – France
La matanzade Texas – Spain
Non aprite quella porta – Italy
TCM – US 1999 re-release title
– alternative spelling

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)
Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990)
The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1994)
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

See also
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006)
Texas Chainsaw (2013)
Leatherface (2017)

Extracts included in
78/52 (2017)
Precious Images (1986)
Run Sweetheart Run (2022)
S&man (2006)


The Hollywood Reporter vol.233 no.35 (29 October 1974) pp.3, 4
[T]horoughly professional, compelling, and gruesome. Squarely within the traditions of the Psycho genre, it is a fresh and extreme interpretation that should do for meat-eating what Hitchcock did for shower-taking […] Hooper shoots very directly and simply, letting the excess of his tour-de-force staking speak for itself. Actually, there is not so much gory detail shown – a girl being chased by a maniac with a chainsaw needs no amplification. – from a review by John H. Dorr

Variety 6 November 1974 p.20
Though marred by thin, washed-out color, pic otherwise has a professional look, with Hooper and cameraman Daniel Pearl making skillful and frequent use of dolly shots for atmospheric effect. Sharp sense of composition and careful accumulation of detail also help enliven the crude plot, and the acting is above par for this type of film. Other credits are also pro, with Robert A. Burns showing imagination (and a strong stomach) in fashioning animal parts and other knickknacks into the decor for the murder factory. Music by Hooper and Wayne Bell in unobtrusively effective and the editing by Sallye Richardson and Larry Carroll is smooth, though the climactic chase sequence would be more plausible with some tightening. – from a review by Mack

Photon no.26 (1975) pp.47-48
Grim? Unquestionably. But whatever one's opinion of the film may be Chain Saw is quite possibly the most terrifyingly brutal example of a horror film yet produced […] [T]here was definitely something more to Chain Saw that easily set it apart above Last House on the Left in every respect; qualities which had impressed me in spite of the stomach-churning sequences and which made it essential that I see the film again. Somewhat happily, I came away from the second viewing convinced that the film was an above average thriller […] a film which, in spite of its grisliness, does place restraints upon itself and which borrows liberally from cliches utilized in dozens of previous horror films […] [W]hile The Texas Chain Saw Massacre may be revolting in more ways than one, it is a frightening film, and isn't that basically what horror films have always strived for, from James Whale to Roman Polanski? – from a review by Ronald V. Borst

Cinefantastique vol.4 no.3 (Autumn 1975) p.36
There is no denying that this blatantly amateurish effort delivers some very professional shocks […] [It has] a story-line that is full of absurd contrivances and unbelievable action […] What director Tobe Hooper was concerned with, however, was the creation of a grotesque environment of unparalleled monstrousness, and in that he succeeded 100%. The house these poor young tourists wander into is a chamber of horror and sickness that makes the Bates house look positively pleasant by comparison. – from a review by John McCarty

Film Journal no.7 vol.2 no.4 (1975) pp.24-27
Chain Saw is a meat movie. It is, in fact, the Gone With the Wind of meat movies – a grossly colorful celebration of violence for its own sake, with no redeeming social value or enlightening message whatever. […] [It's] a ritualistically simple Southern Gothic tale of mass murder that races along with the blunt force of a demolition derby. […] The characters, a cartoonlike collection of grotesque rednecks and bland young victims, have just enough identity to play their parts effectively in the grim spectacle. The photography is flat, straight-forward, and professional, with no atmospheric lighting or stylized horror effects. Using carefully-framed tracking shots to follow the action, and an occasional reverse zoom to relieve tension, Hooper's camera allows the violence to speak for itself. – from an article (Saturn in retrograde; or, the Texas jump cut) by Lew Brighton

Time Out no.299 (5-11 December 1975) p.27
Under the very correct assumption that there's a market for scaring audiences witless, Tobe Hooper has concocted some sort of ultimate in exploitation horror […] The result is cheap, nasty and very effective. – from a review by Chris Petit

Sight & Sound vol.45 no.2 (Spring 1976) pp.84-85
[E]ssentially an effective exploitation piece; grand guignol horror with few pretensions. Analysis of the film too quickly throws up contradictions and confusions. In the grand tradition of many such exercises in the macabre, the film is ultimately neither disturbing nor provoking […] If the film cannot be singled out for its artistic brilliance or the subtlety of its social message, it remains a phenomenon of some interest – a 16mm quickie that was made for £75,000 and has grossed millions. – from a review by Guy Phelps

Monthly Film Bulletin vol.43 no.515 (December 1976) p.258
[L]ittle more than a cheaply executed and in some respects remarkably old-fashioned piece of Grand Guignol […], a tongue in cheek commercial shocker constructed on the principle that the viewer should be given the odd frisson but never allowed to forget that he is watching a fiction […] [A] contrived piece of nonsense studiously avoiding a point of view (we sympathise with no one) and content to pad out the action before the final capture-and-rescue sequence with derivative or repetitive devices (the mummies are straight out of Psycho and the interminable chases seem forever on the point of ending with Sally's death). It is a sign of the hard times that Tobe Hooper should have been awarded a handsome Hollywood contract on the strength of a picture so reassuringly predictable that it successfully dissipates all apprehension. – from a review by John Pym

Films and Filming vol.23 no.4 (January 1977) pp.43-44; 45 (UK)
This is enough to bring on instant schizophrenia. On the one hand, the subject matter of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is meretricious tosh. On the other, its judgement of how long the suspense can be sustained in each of its numerous passages of apprehension, and its impeccably effective trompe-l'oeil flourishes that convince you the horrors are actually happening, cannot be eschewed as the incidentals of sensationalist trivia, since in themselves they are filmic to a degree: the very stuff of the medium, the illusion that bespeaks the specific quality of cinema […] [A] film that proves emphatically that cinema as a vital craft is able to coexist with the reprehensible of storylines. – from a review by Gordon Gow

The Austin Chronicle 2 November 1998
The violence is outdated by today's standards, but the original Chainsaw [sic] still packs a punch with its rough look and disturbing overtones […] By the Seventies, moviegoers had seen their share of monsters and even a few Norman Bates-type characters. But nothing could prepare them for Tobe Hooper's twisted foray into the heart of the Lone Star State. Here, what was perceived as the most stable of institutions, the American family, is the beast. With that, it's no coincidence that the scariest scene in the film takes place at a dinner table. Hooper's vision is horrid yet engrossing. His subtle touches (background radio bulletins repeating gory crimes throughout the state) and grotesque characterizations make rural Texas seem like a hellish place where only the strong survive. But the worst part about this vision is that despite its sensational aspects, it never seems too far from what could be the truth. – from a review by Mike Emery

Evening Standard 11 November 1998
Tobe Hooper's seminal horror movie ripped apart the screen and rewrote the rules of what was apparently permissible on screen. A bona fide deranged cult movie this grunge ‘n' gore masterpiece inspired a genre of chain saw movies that lasted through the next two decades […]The weirdest and most disturbing aspect of the film is that in spite of the human detritus depicted on screen and a succession of meathooks, freezers, chain saws, ball-peen hammers and other agents of destruction, there is very little graphic bloodshed. It is the unrelenting atmosphere of nastiness, the cannibalistic, abattoir horror that lies within the primal regions beyond rationality that really chills the blood. – from a review by Neil Norman

The Evening Standard 10 December 1998 p.31
It holds up well, after 20 years, the purest of all horror films. It offers no explanation for the nightmare assault on a vanload of kids in the Texas backwoods, and ends abruptly, almost as if the final shots were missing – thus denying us even relief […]The first shock is shocking precisely because it's like the life it takes – over and done before we've had time to register properly the apparition in the butcher's apron and leather mask. Christ what was that! It works the way Hitchcock's Psycho works: a glimpse is more grisly than a feast […] [U]nlike today's corrupt and calculated violence, eager to make the violent extinction of life into watchable entertainment, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre [sic] retains its grassroots primitivism and unflinching integrity. It comes out of a particular place and time, warning of the world's unnatural horrors, rather than desensitising us to them. – from a review by Alexander Walker

The Guardian Section 2 11 December 1998 p.7
Why […] does this bargain-basement still rank as one of the genre's most terrifying creatures? Perhaps it's because the evil is oddly intangible, incubated within the guts of its story. […] Initially conceived as drive-in exploitation (loosely based on the Ed Gein serial-killer case that inspired Psycho), The Texas Chain Saw Massacre differs markedly from the copycats that followed. It's rhythm for a start. Hooper shoots his film like a snuff movie, with none of the measured ‘shock, fake, bigger shock' routine now de rigeur for the genre. His violence erupts without warning, seemingly springing out of nowhere. The sex angle is also absent. For while lissom Sally (Marilyn Burns) and Pam (Teri McMinn) shimmy about in hotpants, their tormentors could hardly be less interested. At one point, the captive Sally bats her eyelids and promises ‘I'll do anything you want', only to be met with blank looks from Leatherface and crew. To them, their hostage is not sexy, not human even. Just meat and bone. – from a review by Ian Brooks

The Independent (Review) 10 December 1998 p.10
It's a simple but crudely effective tale […] The drama is never in any danger of being sophisticated, though the sight of a terrified girl being chased through the night by a masked pursuer is one of the purest representations of nightmare you're ever likely to see. All told, Hooper's film must have done more damage to the rural Texas holiday industry than anything aside from an actual visit to Texas. – from a review by Anthony Quinn

Independent on Sunday (Culture) 13 December 1998 p.4
I thought I might laugh at The Texas Chainsaw Massacre [sic] […] But Tobe Hooper's 1974 gloob flick is too adroit ever to be a giggle. […] The scariest thing about Hooper's murderer is that he trudges. His behaviour is metronomic. Hooper's Texas is a melancholy place. It's just dust and space ripped through by a few twentysomethings with progressive ideas and optimistic bodies. They are dealt with accordingly. The film has more to say about innocence than you care to remember. – from a review by Antonia Quirke

Empire no.115 (January 1999) p.25
The most purely horrifying horror movie ever made. A quarter of a century on, power-tools may have been overused blunting the sheer gall of using a title as up-front as this, but Tobe Hooper's sick, inventive little film remains as disturbing, suspenseful and shattering as the day it first saw the light of a drive-in screen […] From the first images – a corpse wired to a grave, sunspots, a dead armadillo in the road – the film goes all out to show you the uncomfortable. The horror scenes are staged with unforgettable force, using the soundtrack as much as the (oddly restrained) visuals to batter you senseless, but Hooper and his collaborators, especially art director Bob Burns, fill the film with unsettling details that register on the corner of the eye. The horror house, where human and animal bones are used in the furniture and a fat chicken is cooped in a canary cage, is a truly nightmarish locale, and the four maniacs each have unpleasant but credible tics. Unlike The Exorcist, which tries to make horror play with a mass audience, this is a picture for the hardcore crowd. It has an almost absurdist lack of meaning which is as horrific as any ‘message' could be, and is never less than totally committed to scaring you witless. Usually, when they say ‘Not for those of a nervous disposition', it's shameless hype; this time, they mean it. – from a review by Kim Newman

Empire no.126 (December 1999) p.146
Hooper's film, shot on a minuscule budget by a group of mostly first-timers, remains a uniquely nerve-shredding piece of exploitation cinema, delivering masterfully built atmosphere and suspense as well as juxtaposing brief moments of harrowing violence with a wry sense of humour […] [It] may sound like the kind of first-base worthy of weary contempt, but like that other recently released horror classic The Exorcist, Chain Saw is much more than the sum of its parts. From it's haunting opening sequence […] Hooper invests his film with a uniquely disturbing atmosphere, playing on American city-dwellers' fear of the secrets the sprawling heartlands of their country may hold […] and the coleslaw brained inbreds that might dwell there […] In the final, utterly surreal image – Leatherface engaged in a lunatic dance, swinging a buzzing chainsaw silhouetted against the sunrise – Hooper delivers one of the truly iconic images in horror movies. Essential. – from a review by Adam Smith

Film Ireland no.69 (February/March 1999) pp.42-43
[O]ne is blown away by the visual and aural invention. Large swathes of it look like an ‘Art Film', the sound design is also smashing – a nervy collection of clicks and rustling cymbals […] [It's] still pretty damn scary, although not as grisly as we have been led to believe – it is the degradation of humanity that is really frightening. The comically absurd behaviour of the cannibal family could be straight out of the Theatre of Cruelty. In particular, the scene where they encourage their decrepit Grandfather to bash one of their victims over the head whilst they hold her over a bucket, would have done Antonin Artaud proud. Of course all of this was done on a minuscule budget and it is every bit as impressive as the contemporaneous work of Cassavetes, more so because it was competing directly with other films in its genre made for ten times the amount. – from a review by Donald Clarke

Film Review no.562 (January 1999) p.36
For those who never saw Tobe Hooper's original nightmare, it's good to be able to report that you can still be afraid, be very afraid, as time has not dimmed the shock value of Chainsaws [sic] razor sharp edges […] Hooper's trump card was his reliance on a documentary-style realism coupled with the true horror of anticipation and suggestion […] Despite being filled with quirky humour and bizarre characters […], it is the numbingly brutal accumulative effect of Hooper's disturbingly matter-of-fact direction which sears the brain. The very low budget only adds to the film's harshly gritty, creepy tone. A directional masterpiece that fully deserves The Exorcist-style reissue treatment. – from a review by Alan Jones

Empire no.132 (June 2000) p.119
Exploitation cinema at its most notorious, 1974's legendary nerve-shredder is at once every bit the brilliant, brutal and savage experience that two-and-a-half decades of word of mouth has hailed it as, and yet so, so much more […] [P]acked with imagery so haunting it lingers an eternity in the mind, it's ultimate power nevertheless lies in an atmosphere more disturbing than anything in the genre's blood-red history. Enveloping its audience in a congealing mood of oppressive terror, intermittent dashes of pitch black humour […] may provide brief respite, but not once does Hooper relinquish his grasp around the jugular – resulting in an admittedly shoestring, but viciously taut, unrelentingly surreal shock of horror at its most pure. – from a review by Mark Dinning

Empire no.136 (November 2000) p.32
Oh, what a film! When I saw it for the first time, it had such a profound effect on me. It was quite simply unlike anything I'd ever seen before. Even films like The Exorcist still had an aura of pretence about them, whereas Chain Saw is just so raw, chilling and terrifying […] Right from the start it unsettles you, with its primal, real, pre-Dogme style. And Leatherface? He's the most scary character in any film. Ever. – from a review by Mat Fraser

The Guardian (The Guide) 27 May-2 June 2000 p.20
It's a far better movie than its sensationalist title video nasty reputation would have you believe. Beautifully shot and designed, mostly bloodless, and with a vein of jet-black humour running through it – although the Lone Star State is one of the few places where an obnoxious fat guy in a wheelchair being bisected by a motorised saw could be considered “comic relief” […] [B]efore the fright genre descended to its current post-Scream level of double bluffing buffoonery, movies like this were considered genuinely shocking and dangerous, and it still shocks today. This is the Sex Pistols of horror films. – from a review by Phelim O'Neill

Empire no.166 (April 2003) p.152
The granddaddy. The big kahuna. The ultimate exercise in terror. Tobe Hooper's classic slice of low-budget mayhem is as base as horror gets. With its unrelenting, brutal mood and moments of black humour (Grandpa going in for the kill), this is perfection, pure and simple. – from a review by Mark Dinning

Production Notes

In Austin, Texas in 1972, film student graduate Tobe Hooper had directed two PBS funded documentaries and his first feature, Eggshells (1969) had won an award at the Atlanta Film Festival. Eggshells received limited distribution and for his second feature Hooper wanted a film that would hit big and give him a calling card for Hollywood. Drive-ins at the time, in the wake of the terrific success of Night of the Living Dead (1968), were full of cheap horror films. One of the most successful was The Last House on the Left (1972) which culminated in death by chainsaw.

Eggshells co-writer Kim Henkel was working as an illustrator by day. At nights, he and Hooper pooled their ideas and came up with a script entitled Leatherface. Henkel was inspired by a case in Houston, Texas where a 17 year old called Elmoline Henley had procured young men for a much older man. They both had sex with their captives then murdered them. Another man had helped the murders but when he too was killed Henley went to the police as he thought he would be next to die. In custody he showed police around Houston pointing out where the bodies were buried as TV crews followed them. A news reporter asked Henley how he would face his punishment. The kid said he'd take his medicine like a man. Henkel liked the idea of horrific murder coupled with a bizarre code of ethics. Hooper incorporated the story of Ed Gein, the real life cannibal and necrophiliac who was the inspiration behind Psycho (1960). When he was a boy, Hooper had been told the story in graphic detail by relatives visiting from Wisconsin. Also an inspiration were the regular news reports coming from San Antonio which showed every gory detail of any accident or murder.

Titled Leatherface, and later Headcheese, they took the script to the Texas Film Commission whose head, Warrren Skaaren, much later writer of Batman (1989), helped them get investors and, when the film was completed, helped them with a distribution deal. Not happy with the title, he suggested a number of alternatives. Of these Hooper picked The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

Hooper and Henkel set up a company called Vortex to produce the film and a company called MRD Investment Co for those who wanted to put money into the film. A crew was assembled from local Texas film students and graduates, many of them attracted by Hooper's reputation, actually having made a film. Similarly local actors were cast. Marilyn Burns, then working at the Texas Film Commission, landed the survivor's role. When the person originally cast as Leatherface was too drunk to begin shooting Gunnar Hansen was cast. The huge Hansen would recall later how Hooper had been impressed when he'd turned up at the audition and simply filled the doorway. He then spent two days at a state school for retarded people and studied the way people there moved in preparation for the part.

Shooting began on 15 July 1973 and for the next 32 days cast and crew would work long hours, seven days a week in the strong heat of a Texan summer to make the film.

The script for the opening scene started on a shot of the sun which moves to the eye of a run-over dead dog and then cuts to a travelling van containing the vacationing kids. When cast and crew arrived for the opening scene, there was a dead horse by the side of the road. Hooper jettisoned the dog idea, but the horse smelled so disgusting the shot was never completed. Instead production designer Robert Burns produced a dead armadillo he had found and then stuffed. Burns maintains Hooper wanted the van to run over it but Hooper refutes this.

The opening scenes as it now stands, with the much loved grotesque sculpture made of human remains in a cemetery, wasn't in the script, nor was it actually shot in the original filming block. Instead, Hooper and Daniel Pearl, his director of photography, regrouped to do a series of pick-ups that made up the opening montage.

Sound man Ted Nicolaou had recently bought a van to carry his equipment. The movie was so tightly budgeted that this became the van the kids used in the movie. Unbearably hot and cramped with cast and crew, interior shots in the van could only last a few minutes. Paul A. Partain who played the wheelchair bound Franklin remained in character even when not filming and the other actors kept away from his moaning. Gunnar Hansen later admitted that he “hated” Partain and was quite glad to take part in the killing of his character Franklin.

The production team found a nice old country house to use for where the family lived. Totally cleared out of its fittings, it was decked out by Robert Burns, the walls covered in butcher's paper and then soaked in animal blood left to dry. For props Hooper came up with ideas which were supplemented by Robert Burns who then designed and made them often overnight. Burns went around farms and collected carcasses and bones of dead animals left in fields. Make up artist Dorothy Pearl had access to a vet's yard and Burns loaded of knapsack full of extra dressing including monkey bones.

Burns also spent a long time looking for a realistic way to portray human skin both for the house “decorations” and Leatherface's mask. Liquid latex and fibreglass insulation material which layered up yellow was used. Burns wanted a mask that would look as if victims had been hit, then skinned and then sewn together by a madman, not created by a designer trying to be impressive.

The family unit of Grandpa (according to Henkel, Grandpa to Texans often means an old aged father rather than its strict definition) and the family included no women. Burns created the petrified Grandma who didn't feature in the script.

For the actors, filming was tough. To prepare for the scene in which Jerry is killed, actor Allen Danziger blindfolded himself so he wouldn't know what Leatherface looked like. A crew member lay on the floor with a hand in Danziger's belt to jerk him back as Leatherface's hammer was meant to hit. As soon as Danziger caught sight of Hansen in his Leatherface make up, he was so scared he tore loose of the crew man and rushed off the set. William Vail (Kirk) was caught by accident with a real blow from Gunner Hansen during his death scene. Hansen was apologetic and would thereafter ask him if he was OK after every further slam.

Being buried under the Leatherface make up made the shoot a particularly uncomfortable one for Hansen – he later recalled how executive producer Jay Parsley had to rescue him after he'd been filming in 110 degrees by plying him with ice-cold Lone Star beer.

For the meathook scene, Hooper told Burns he wanted the hook to come out of the girl and blood spurt out. Burns thought it would be more effective if the audience didn't see the violence. With Burns refusing to work on the effect, make up artist Dorothy Pearl made a harness out of pantyhose which meant actress Teri McMinn could last about a minute hung. At a lunch break sound man Ted Nicolaou's daughter came skipping into the house as a scene with Leatherface was decapitating Kirk whilst McMinn hung on the meathook. The girl ran away screaming.

There is little blood in the film. What there is is really red cable syrup. For Franklin's death, Hooper and Pearl stood either side of actor Paul A. Partain and would spit “blood” on each swing of the chainsaw. The reason for the film lacking in blood was down to Hooper naively believing that the film would be awarded a PG rating by the MPAA – he was wrong and the film went out with an R rating.

It would be toughest on Marilyn Burns. She was hit with a real broom by Jim Siedow. After eight takes it still didn't look realistic enough and she told Siedow not to hold back. He hit hard enough to bruise her. While tied to the “arm” chair, her character, Sally, needed to be gagged. A dirty rag was found on the floor and it looked so good the rag was stuffed in her mouth. Never cleaned, it stayed there for a long time. She fell over in one scene and was left tied and gagged while the scene was reset.

The toughest time for her, and the other cast and crew, was the dinner scene. With Siedow on the last day of his contract and the Granpa make up appliances used to alter the young actor playing him running out, filming was done in one 27 hour block. Though set at night, much of it was done in the 120 degree heat of a Texas day with chicken bits, dog entrails and charred bones all smelling vile. On completion of one scene, Gunnar Hansen exited the door and threw up.

For Sally's escape through the window a stuntwoman was used, but Burns had to leap six feet into shot as though coming through the window. This twisted her ankle and she limped through the chase.

The woods chase scene wasn't that difficult to shoot. However there weren't any woods out by the house. Close by was Rattlesnake Hill where they found a found a patch of woods fifty feet across. To give the illusion of different space even though they were in reality often on the same path, they changed lens size and moved camera position. It took several nights to complete.

Production went further back as shots were discussed and minor script revisions were made. Hooper felt it was important for the film to end when the sun is rising and this entailed further waiting. This need to get things right meant Burns was recalled for her final escape scene in the truck. Her manic laughter was real as she was overjoyed to be finally finished with the film.

The film had cost $125,000. Over budget from its original $64,000, many participants were asked to defer salary in lieu of points in the film. Thinking they would be getting a portion of the film's gross, they were actually given a percentage of Vortex the production company, which had a limited stake in the film.

Hooper edited for about a year in his living room whilst he scored the music in another. Hooper had been involved with experimental music and using unconventional instruments and his library of weird sounds, the unsettling score was produced. The sound mix had to be done a second time to correct composition. This was done by Robert Knudsen who had worked on The Exorcist (1973). The effect of the bird cage rattle is actually the noise of Regan's bed squeaking from The Exorcist.

Again running out of funds during the edit, Hooper and Henkel were forced to sell off much of their participation in the profits to keep production afloat.

Finally completed, the movie was shown to many distributors including AIP. A new company, Bryanston took it, immediately writing a cheque for three times the production cost. In October 1974, the film opened at cinemas and drive-ins across Texas becoming a massive hit. Then it went to film festivals, garnering great reviews and it was then shown across America. Influential New York critic Rex Reed called it the scariest film he'd ever seen and its success was replicated all over the USA. Abroad, it faced severe censorship problems. It was refused a certificate in Britain by the BBFC but some local councils allowed it to be shown in their cities in 1978.

The participants never saw any of the money the film generated. Bryanston was mafia controlled and released none of the money. Eventually sued by some of the makers, they settled for $400 000 out of court.

The house used in the film is now a plush restaurant, the Kingsland old town grill.

Production notes written by David Hanks [reprinted with permission]



  • American Cinematographer vol.78 no.4 (April 1997) pp.20, 22 – illustrated article (Production Slate: Bringing Back Texas Chainsaw Massacre's Buzz by David E. Williams)
  • Cinefantastique vol.4 no.3 (Autumn 1975) p.36 – illustrated review (by John McCarty)
  • Cinefantastique vol.27 no.6 (February 1996) pp.40-43 – illustrated article (Stories of Childhood and  by Mikita Brottman)
  • Cinefantastique vol.34 no.3/4 (June 2002) pp.12-13 – illustrated interview with Jim Siedow (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre by Aaron Tallent)
  • Cinefantastique vol.35 no.5 (October/November 2003) pp.24-25, 73-74 – illustrated article (Sinister Urges – Sharpening the Saw by Gina McIntyre)
  • Empire no.90 (December 1996) p.52 – illustrated interview with Gunnar Hansen (Where Are They Now? by Adam Smith)
  • Empire no.115 (January 1999) p.25 – illustrated review (by Kim Newman)
  • Empire no.126 (December 1999) p.146 – illustrated video review (by Adam Smith)
  • Empire no.132 (June 2000) p.119 – illustrated DVD review (by Mark Dinning)
  • Empire no.133 (July 2000) pp.108-111 – illustrated interview with Gunnar Hansen (Unhappy, Texas by Clark Collis)
  • Empire no.137 (November 2000) p.32 – illustrated review (Double Take by Mat Fraser/CW)
  • Empire no.166 (April 2003) p.152 – illustrated DVD review (by Mark Dinning)
  • Entertainment Weekly no.495 (23 July 1999) pp.25-30 – illustrated article (25 Scariest Movies of All Time)
  • Entertainment Weekly no.567 (3 November 2000) p.88 – review (Encore: Tool Time by Rebecca Ascher-Walsh)
  • Fangoria no.227 (October 2003) p.19 – illustrated interview with Daniel Pearl (Pearls of Wisdom by Christine Allen)
  • Film Comment vol.13 no.1 (January/February 1977) pp.14-17 – illustrated article (Carrie, and Sally and Leatherface among the film buffs by Roger Greenspun)
  • Film Comment vol.22 no.4 (July/August 1986) pp.9-12 – interview with Tobe Hooper
  • Film Ireland no.69 (February/March 1999) pp.42-43 (Ireland) – illustrated review (by Donald Clarke)
  • Film Ireland no.90 (January/February 2003) pp.12-15 (Ireland) – illustrated article (An A-Z of Low and Micro Inspiration by Tony Keily)
  • Film Journal issue 7 vol.2 no.4 (1975) pp.24-27 – illustrated article (Saturn in retrograde; or, the Texas jump cut by Lew Brighton)
  • Film Review no.562 (January 1999) p.36 – illustrated review (by Alan Jones)
  • Filmfax no.52 (September/October 1995) pp.68-72 – illustrated interview with Jim Siedow, Ed Neal, John Duggan and Marilyn Burns (Those Little Ol' Cannibals From Texas by Mike Olszewski)
  • Filmmakers' Newsletter vol.8 no.10 (August 1975) pp.24-28 – illustrated production notes (The horror genre: Texas Chainsaw Massacre by Mike Simpson)
  • Films and Filming vol.23 no.4 (January 1977) pp.43-44; 45 – credits, review (by Gordon Gow); illustrated preview
  • Flesh and Blood no.9 p.29 – review
  • Journal of Popular Film vol.5 no.2 (1976) pp.12-14; 95-96, 101-108 – article; article
  • The Hollywood Reporter vol.233 no.35 (29 October 1974) pp.3, 4 – credits, review (by John H. Dorr)
  • Horror Elite September 1978 pp.1-5 – article (Deep in the Heart of Texas by Kim Newman)
  • Journal of Popular Film vol.5 no.2 (1976) pp.95-96, 101-108 – illustrated article (Getting Stuck in America: Two Interrupted Journeys by Julian Smith)
  • Monthly Film Bulletin vol.43 no.515 (December 1976) p.258 – credits, synopsis, review (by John Pym)
  • Movie no.25 (December 1977) pp.12-16 – illustrated article (American Cinema in the '70s: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre by Tony Williams)
  • Photon no.26 (1975) pp.47-48 – illustrated credits, review (by Ronald V. Borst)
  • Radio Times vol.307 no.4001 (28 October 2000) p.67 – illustrated article (Jonathan Ross' Movie Moment)
  • Screen International no.64 (27 November 1976) p.24 – review
  • Scapegoat no.1 p.10 – censorship notes
  • Shivers no.23 (November 1995) pp.8-23 – illustrated interview with Kim Henkel (The Return of the Repressed? by Xavier Mendik)
  • Shivers no.26 pp.18-19 – illustrated article
  • Shivers no.50 pp.30-33 – illustrated article
  • Shivers no.61 (January 1999) p.46 – illustrated review (by James Abery)
  • Sight & Sound vol.45 no.2 (Spring 1976) pp.84-5 – illustrated article (Family Life by Guy Phelps)
  • Sight & Sound vol.13 no.12 (December 2003) pp.12-16 – illustrated article (What a Carve-Up by Mark Kermode)
  • Strange Adventures no.54 (vol.5 no.6 June 1994) p.17 – illustrated review (by Jeff Young)
  • Time Out no.297 (14-20 November 1975) p.9 – mentioned in illustrated article (Luck and Judgement by Tony Rayns)
  • Time Out no.298 (28 November – 4 December 1975) p.3 – letter (from Alan S. Jones)
  • Time Out no.299 (5-11 December 1975) p.27 – illustrated review (by Chris Petit)
  • Time Out 25 October 2000 – interview with Tobe Hooper (Eminence grisly by Geoffrey Macnab)
  • Variety 6 November 1974 p.20 – credits, review (by Mack)


  • Asian Age 18 March 1999 p.18 – note (Britain approves Texas Chainsaw)
  • The Austin Chronicle 2 November 1998 – review (by Mike Emery)
  • Daily Telegraph 8 December 1975 – article (Chainsaw massacre a mindless echo by Eric Shorter)
  • Daily Telegraph 21 October 2000 p.A12 – illustrated article (What happened to the director's cut? by Clark Collis)
  • Diário de Notícias 4 March 1999 – review (by Eurico De Barros)
  • Diário de Notícias 28 May 1999 – review (by Joao Miguel Tavares)
  • The Evening Standard 11 November 1998 – illustrated article (The return of Leatherface by Neil Norman)
  • The Evening Standard 10 December 1998 p.31 – review (by Alexander Walker)
  • The Evening Standard 16 June 2000 – illustrated interview with Gunnar Hansen (Yes, I was that masked man by Pete Clark)
  • The Guardian (The Guide) 27 May – 2 June 2000 p.20 – illustrated DVD review (by Phelim O'Neill)
  • The Guardian (Section 2) 31 July 1998 pp.6-7 – illustrated article (Murderer, necrophile, cannibal – role model by Tom Dewe Mathews)
  • The Guardian (Section 2) 11 December 1998 p.7 – review (The beasts within us by Ian Brooks)
  • The Independent (Review) 10 December 1998 p.10 – review (by Anthony Quinn)
  • The Independent (Review) 16 June 2000 p.12 – illustrated article (It's just a man-eat-man world by Charlotte O'Sullivan)
  • Independent on Sunday (Culture) 13 December 1998 p.4 – review (by Antonia Quirke)
  • Metro 16 October 2000 p.9 – illustrated article (Horror movies back with a bigger bump)
  • Sunday Telegraph Magazine 14 March 1999 pp.22, 24-25 – illustrated interview with Tobe Hooper (Chain Reaction by William Langley)
  • The Times (Metro) 21-27 November 1998 p.9 – article (Cut above by Clive King)
  • The Times 10 June 2000 p.3 – illustrated article (Fantasy world of the gun fanatic from death row by Paul Wilkinson)


  • Film Review 1977-1978 by F. Maurice Speed p.144
  • Terror Tracks: Music, Sound and Horror Cinema by Philip Hayward (ed) pp.23, 125, 187, 190, 136n, 205, 217, 226, 230, 231, 235, 236, 240, 
  • The World of Fantasy Films by Richard Myers p.35
  • The X-Rated Videotape Guide I by Robert H. Rimmer (third edition) p.144 – credits, review