On this day in horror history, Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre premiered almost a year after filming concluded in Austin, Texas in 1974.
Produced for less than $140K ($700K today), the budget forced Hooper to shot for long hours seven days a week to finish as fast as possible and reduce rental costs.
Hooper limited the gore in hopes of getting a PG rating. But the MPAA still slapped it with an R-rating. In fact, the film was banned in several countries, and numerous theaters stopped showing the film in response to complaints about its violence.
That said, it was highly profitable, grossing over $30M at the box office, equivalent with roughly over $150.8M today. It sold over 16.5 million tickets in 1974. It has since gained a reputation as one of the best and most influential horror films.
Written by Hooper and Kim Henkel, the film begins when Sally hears that her grandfather’s grave may have been vandalized, she and her paraplegic brother, Franklin, set out with their friends to investigate. After a detour to their family’s old farmhouse, they discover a group of crazed, murderous outcasts living next door. As the group is attacked one by one by the chainsaw-wielding Leatherface, who wears a mask of human skin, the survivors must do everything they can to escape.
Starring Marilyn Burns, Paul A. Partain, Edwin Neal, Jim Siedow, and Gunnar Hansen, it sports an 88% on Rotten Tomatoes with this Critics Consensus: Thanks to a smart script and documentary-style camerawork, Texas Chainsaw Massacre achieves start-to-finish suspense, making it a classic in low-budget cinema.