One Of The Scariest Scenes In The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Meats The Hook

One Of The Scariest Scenes In The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Meats The Hook

(Welcome to Scariest Scene Ever, a column dedicated to the most pulse-pounding moments in horror with your tour guides, horror experts Chris Evangelista and Matt Donato. In this edition, Matt gets back to the basics of fear in "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.")

Since I picked "The Bear" last time and got cheeky with "Scariest Scene Ever," this week I return to more traditional roots. A finger-lickin' American horror classic. Tobe Hooper's "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" introduced Leatherface to the masses, and kickstarted one of the genre's most erratic slasher franchises. There are a few sequences that horror fans might choose as the scariest from the film, but one too iconic not to honor. We'll get there shortly.

There's little else to say about "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" that hasn't been analyzed to death over the internet, in barrooms, or through academia. Leatherface is on the horror genre's Mount Rushmore equivalent, although he's not exactly a traditional slasher villain. He's usually working alongside his cannibalistic family, acting more as a brute savage who completes the dirty work. He doesn't have Ghostface's agility, Freddy's imagination, or Chucky's voodoo magic. All Leatherface has is a chainsaw and butcher's tools, which leads to today's selection.

The Setup

We all know the original story about Sally Hardesty (Marilyn Burns), her road trip companions, and the 1973 murders that follow. Sally and her handicapped brother Franklin (Paul A. Partain) are getting in touch with their Texas lineage, first stopping at their grandfather's grave. It's hot, it's sweaty, and the sun is beating down without mercy. The Hardestys share a history with animal slaughter, which is revealed when the group passes a slaughterhouse. A hitchhiker appears, and we're one step closer to Leatherface's introduction.

The Story So Far

Many know this hitchhiker as Nubbins Sawyer (Edwin Neal) — the maniac who tries to charge Sally and her friends for pictures. His strange behaviors eventually lead to an altercation in the van. Nubbins smears a bloody symbol on the vehicle's exterior and is left behind. Unfortunately, the van needs a refuel and the only gas station in the area leads to more trouble.

The proprietor — aka Drayton Sawyer (Jim Siedow) — reveals there's no fuel for purchase. Sally and her companions start to wander around, exploring an abandoned Hardesty house nearby. Horndogs Kirk (William Vail) and Pam (Teri McMinn) plan to engage in hanky-panky somewhere else, so they sneak away from the group. The couple locates another house hidden elsewhere, which they wander into without understanding whose territory they've just entered. Kirk hopes to barter for some of the gas powering the home's generators, but instead gets death by hammer. Pam's next, and it's an even more gruesome demise.

The Scene

Pam searches for Kirk inside the house and finds a room that's filled with discarded bones — both human and animal. She falls through drawn curtains onto a floor littered with feathers and remains, and we can hear chickens clucking (hanging in a cage). It's a peculiar room that's better suited for a barn than a furnished home, but makes sense with the hung-up hides elsewhere. Then she notices a furniture centerpiece, a bench made from people's bones with decorative intent.

Pam's still soaking in her surroundings from the floor, still in too much shock to rise. Dismantled skeletons and smashed turtle shells dangle from the ceiling like school art projects. The score begins to intensify, a clatter that sounds like a weed whacker whir behind constant clucking. The camera hovers over pelvic bones, the implements that were presumably used to break down bodies, and other gnarly images — being sure to splice in Pam's face now and again.

After long enough, Pam finally gets up and stumbles back into the house's vestibule. At the same time, a back door swings open and the same masked man who brutally killed Kirk appears. The ungentle giant chases Pam as she just gets past the front door, then snatches her back inside with a bear hug grip. 

The brute — who we now know as Leatherface — carries Pam to his backroom workstation with tables, coolers, and meat hooks. As Pam continues to scream, he hoists her onto one of the curved silver spikes. Her horrified squeals turn to painful gasps, the sharp metal rod now stuck through her back. She grasps the rod behind her back but doesn't have the strength to pull herself up. That's when Leatherface revs his chainsaw and starts cutting into the fresh meat on his butcher's table, as Pam can only watch from the hook, knowing she's next.

The Impact (Chris' Take)

"The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" is one of those films that more than lives up to its reputation. There's an evil magic at work in this movie; watching it feels wrong in some way. The filthy sets, the raw terror, the total hopelessness pulses off the film like a sore wound. What Tobe Hooper captured here will probably never be captured again — as evident by the film's many, many, many imitators and even the occasionally good but not-so-great sequels. I actually like the Platinum Dunes remake, but it comes nowhere near the ominous, oppressive horror that beats down on the original like a malevolent sun. 

The scene in question here is one of the most infamous in horror. It was even part of the marketing, and it's easy to understand why: Pam isn't instantly murdered here. Instead, she is turned into a piece of meat; a side of beef impaled on a hook, dangling and swinging and screaming in pain and horror. It's not pleasant! And that's the point of the film — it gets under your skin, burrowing like an insect and turning your blood to ice in the process.

Read this next: The 95 Best Horror Movies Ever

The post One Of The Scariest Scenes in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Meats The Hook appeared first on /Film.

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