The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is back in theaters this week for its 40th anniversary with a newly restored edition that makes director Tobe Hooper's classic slasher look better than ever. Not that it needs the help! Shot for less than $300,000 with a cast of unknowns, the 1974 film helped shape the horror genre and become a huge independent hit. And it's still one of the scariest movies ever made. Here's why it holds up.
It's a daytime story.
It doesn't need gore to be disturbing.
It doesn't give explanations.
It's an ode to creepy interior design.
It's just the story of a family trying to get by.
It's a surprisingly beautiful movie about murderous inbred cannibals.
Shot on 16mm by cinematographer Daniel Pearl, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre manages some moments of strikingly golden beauty amid all the slaughter and terror. A hulking maniac swinging a chainsaw in thwarted rage has never looked as gorgeous as Leatherface does in the film's final scene. That prettiness is one more reason the movie remains so haunting, and why it's worth seeing on the big screen if you have a chance. Frightening is one thing, but to do it on a budget while looking so good? That's why The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a classic.