Last year, the Icons of Fright staff and I all began contributing to what we called “Icons Firsts”, a series of articles detailing the stories of our first encounters with classic horror films. While it’s a task at times to wrangle everyone together, due to schedules and such, I’m very into the idea of sharing experiences, so I figured I’d throw this one out myself. So, until the next “Icons Firsts” article comes, here is my first time experiencing THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE!

I wish that I could say that my relationship with Tobe Hooper’s 1974 classic was a lifelong one, but that would be a lie. I purposely stayed away from the original due to being told as a very young child that it was a true story. It’s quite obvious to me now, that my father and his friend didn’t do their homework, as we all know how very little of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW is actually true and what small elements were based on the Ed Gein events. When he picked me up from school one afternoon, I sat quietly in the backseat, listening to my father and his friend talk about how crazy it was that the events in the movie were real, and how a guy with a chainsaw sawed people up in Texas. I don’t know about you readers, but as a kid, that was enough for me to give the film a big, resounding “HELL NO”.

By the time I did get around to giving The Sawyer family’s first outing a chance, I’d grown up and had already seen every other film in the series, including the remake and remake’s prequel. Yeah, I waited THAT long. For some reason in those years, something, maybe a force of some kind had kept me way away from visiting the original film, due to the absolute surety that it would not only resonate with me, but would forever leave such a tangible and profound mark on my horror-loving mind.

I do have to say though, that it wasn’t a “It’s been enough time, I’m going to give it a go and watch THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE” kind of idea in my head that led me to finally going for it. No, it was something unfortunately, much more embarrassing. It was early 2008, and I had just started dating a fellow horror-lover, who had a collection that rivaled mine, and was also very well-versed in the genre. Trying to come off like some impressive badass (I’m pretty sure I just came off like an idiot), she and I began talking horror over a ridiculous amount of tequila shots, and while heavily intoxicated (something the now sober Jerry doesn’t recommend), the topic of Leatherface came up. She dropped some Jeff Burr getting screwed over by New Line on Part III knowledge, and I countered that with quoting my favorite line from THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE II (“You have one choice, boy: sex or the saw. Sex is, well… nobody knows. But the saw… the saw is family.”). Like a card shark, ready to up the ante, she asked how I felt regarding the idea of Leatherface basically just trying to protect his family in the first film, that he was just panicking at the sight of strangers on their property. Even being extremely intoxicated, I opened my mouth to fake an answer, but alas…nothing came out.

Panicking, I did what anyone quick on their feet would do: grab the film’s DVD and suggest that we watch it, THEN discuss it. Saved. Thinking I was just going to score points with her by watching the film and then talking about it, I instead was subjected to the most profoundly enthralling experience just shy of my first encounter with John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN.  THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE didn’t just play on the TV screen…it hooked me. I sat there, mouth open, shocked, entertained, in love with what was playing out in front of me. If getting lucky with a girl was on my mind prior to pushing the play button, it definitely wasn’t what  I was thinking about during and after. Instead of having a deep conversation about the film after it was over, I made an excuse about needing to get home, and though it was painfully obvious that the offer of more enticing opportunities were there at her house, I just couldn’t shake what i had just watched. I walked home, a good two mile walk, and didn’t stop thinking about the film for a good week after that. It was such a dry, dirty feeling movie, practically oozing the Texas heat from the screen, and though a lot of the carnage happens off screen, the idea of what was happening to Sally Hardesty and her unfortunate friends just wasn’t something my mind wanted to let go of.

Over half a decade later, I still cherish THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. It’s a film that I watch very regularly, on par with other multiple viewings a year films for me like HALLOWEEN, JAWS, PSYCHO, PRINCE OF DARKNESS and THE THING. It solidified my adoration for the genre even more than it had already been, and further signified something that would always be a recurring theme of my life: girls ALWAYS take a backseat to horror…ALWAYS.

2 Responses to “Our First Times: THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974)!!”
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  1. […] first viewing experience, it typically falls into the “Our First Times” articles (My TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE article, Natty’s RE-ANIMATOR article), as a way to separate whether it’s just one […]

  2. […] some of us, it came later in life (my embarrassing introduction to the original film can be read here) and for some it was an odd yet interesting experience (during our interview with Bill Moseley a […]

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