Despite the heavy doses of gore in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Tobe Hooper’s pic is well-made for an exploiter of its type. The script by Hooper and Kim Henkel is a take-off on the same incident which inspired Robert Bloch’s novel (and later Alfred Hitchcock’s film) Psycho.
In 1957, Plainfield, Wis, authorities arrested handyman Ed Gein after finding dismembered bodies and disinterred corpses strewn all over his farmhouse.
When a dozen graves are found violated in a rural Texas cemetery, Marilyn Burns visits her father’s grave to make sure it is unmolested. Disaster strikes on a side trip to her deserted family home. A family of graverobbers, led by saw-wielding Gunnar Hansen, butcher everyone but Burns, who makes a narrow escape.
Though marred by thin, washed out color, pic otherwise has a professional look, with 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.