I recall a conversation a few months ago with a coworker, Mary, who said that she felt that "Halloween" was the first true slasher movie. I immediately said, "Oh, I beg to differ!"
Hands down, that award has GOT to go to "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." It was the first (1974, a full 4 years before "Halloween"), the scarier, and more innovative and original movie, pushing the envelope way beyond where it had previously been pushed. Director Tobe Hooper went on to direct "Poltergeist" and other horror movies, but in the hearts of true horror fans, "Saw" (which is what it was called long before the recent "Saw" series of movies) is his best and most groundbreaking effort.
The incredibly low-budget "Saw" is tame by today's standards, much to the surprise of those who are used to the current trend of the more gore, the more blood, the better--not to mention the reputation of "Saw" as a horrific splatterfest. While considered a "slasher" movie, there is surprisingly little blood, guts, and gore. The horror in "Saw" is elicited by the psychological horror, the sheer creepiness of the situation and the characters. Imagine yourself being chased through the woods by a guy wearing a mask made of human skin and wielding a chainsaw (that would be Leatherface, a character based on a real ghoul, Wisconsin's Ed Gein). Imagine sitting down at the dinner table with his psychotic family. THAT is some creepy stuff, my friends.
The first time I saw "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," it was at the drive-in, and that's as it should be. There's something to be said for sitting in a car--the dark night pressing down around you--and hearing the night sounds. A step on the gravel near your car? A slight bump against your door? Was that a scrape you heard...perhaps that of a HOOK upon the car roof?! A trip to the drive-in provides an auditory and sensory experience that is unequaled for enjoying a horror movie--especially one like "Saw"--to its fullest. "Saw" involves a remote, dilapidated farm house, and seeing the movie at a rural drive-in definitely adds to the experience.
We're lucky enough to still have a drive-in nearby, the Tri-Way, and I told Ken we should really try to go this summer. We'll take some popcorn and some snacks, and I think we'll do our best to see a horror movie double feature when we go. If we take the truck, we can put up the arm rest and I can scootch over by him--no bucket seats allowed at the drive-in! But the question is...can Ken protect me from a chainsaw-wielding freak who appears at the window?!
Enjoy the trailer...Bwah-hah-hah-hah!