Released in 1974, a year after The Exorcist was released, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was considered rude, crude and socially unacceptable. Unlike the Hollywood embrace of William Friedkin’s direction of William Peter Blatty’s novel about a teen processed by an evil demon, this film was banned in many communities when it was released for Halloween. Whereas The Exorcist was instantly recognized as a classic, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a pure cinematic visceral experience that has grown in status after four decades.
The plot for the film is as old as the Boris Karloff thriller The Old Dark House. A group of travelers in Texas run out of gas and are forced to stop at a creepy community. Unlike The Old Dark House, which features a creepy family and a creepier butler, this film features a creepy cannibal family with power tools.
The film featured Marilyn Burns as the leading lady and Gunnar Hansen as the chainsaw wielding Leatherface.
Hansen later spoofed his role in the comedy Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, which also featured local actress Linnea Quigley. Both Hansen and Burns passed away three years ago, within a year of each other. In their latter years, they held a place of honor within the horror movie convention circuit.
Steve Owens was also a regular patron of the convention circuit and my personal friend. Owens, who worked with Cemetery Prints and was also an instructor, passed away last week. After a full day’s work on the vendor floor at a convention, Steve could be found late at night poolside with a bottle in his hand and a quick joke. A celebration of life and laughter honoring Steve will be held this Saturday night, June 9, at Bru’s Room in Coconut Creek (5460 W. Hillsboro Blvd.), for those who knew him, starting at 6 p.m. (Don’t worry, there are plenty of television sets, so you will be able to see whether or not Justified takes the Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes).
Starring Elle Fanning, Mary Shelley opens next weekend, June 15. A costume drama set in Elizabethan times, this film explores how a teenager is influenced to write a gothic novel about a man who made a monster.
Two hundred years later, the novel Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus is still in print and is required reading.
In two weeks, American Animals opens. A heist drama based on a true story, it features four friends who want to steal art work from their college library.
Also check out “The Amazing Mister A,” a magician/ventriloquist, this Saturday morning at 11 a.m. at the Deerfield Beach Percy White Library.