Book Review: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

TCM Film that Terrified a Rattled NationThe Texas Chain Saw Massacre: The Film that Terrified a Rattled Nation
Published by Skyhorse, 2019. 304 pages.

By Joseph Lanza

For those that are thinking this is just another book about the Tobe Hooper classic, reading more tales of the notorious film, they are in for a big surprise. I grew up in the early ’70s but am surprised to read about all the stuff going on in the world that I was apparently oblivious too because I was so young. With all the chaos on in the world back then, I’m kind of glad I was too young to know or care about. So a good portion of this book is about just that, all the craziness throughout the world, from gas shortages, meat shortages, trouble overseas, different political scandals and nefarious deeds, serial killers, all coming from the decade of peace and love.

Lanza knows his history and lays it out for the reader to intake, setting the times that Hooper’s film was coming to life and how it was effecting the production, not just in Hooper, but the entire cast and crew. While this book is not going to fill you with more and more details about the actual making of it, you will read about the possible influences that had a hand in shaping this film, then you will find this book very intriguing. There are some things that might be taking a stretch when it comes to hidden subtext, such as the signage at the gas station/BBQ joint the cook runs. But there are more than a few things that seemed like it definitely was the reasoning behind it, such as when the cook is worried about making sure the lights are turned off to save electricity.

There is a lot of quotes taken from Gunnar Hansen’s must-read book Chain Saw Confidential, as well as from the more than a few documentaries made over the last couple of decades, that help show the insanity that everyone went through during this production. Again though, comparing to what was happening in the real world, it makes a little more sense.

Overall, I did find a lot of this information very interesting, making me really surprised that we even made it out of the ’70s with all the crap that was going on. Makes today seem a little more tolerable. Then again, maybe I’m doing the same thing now that I did as a kid, not paying attention what is going on in the world. It’s easier that way than to realize how screwed up we are as species. Time to go check out and watch another movie.

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