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'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre:' A Massacre of a (35mm) Film

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In celebration of the 40th (yes, 40th) anniversary of the release of the seminal horror film, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Little theater in downtown Rochester screened an original 33mm print of the film. The state of the print, appropriately, might have been as terrifying as the film itself. Picture this, the film print was cut and stripped in the same way Leatherface, one of the loony antagonists in the film, disturbingly handles the group of helpless victims. Wild lines streak across the screen, the granularity is potent like super 8 film stock, and the film as it runs through the projector provides its own soundtrack with buzzes and pops. Heck, even at one point, the frames position themselves upside down.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, released in 1974 and directed by Tobe Hooper (who would go on to make another classic horror film Poltergeist), is a film that minimizes gore but forces you to infer and imagine the horrors that could possibly take form. Indeed, much of the film’s absurdity lies with the final scenes where the film observes the unstable insanity of the family that horrifically preys upon the teenagers. Nevertheless, there are some perplexing narrative choices. There is an unusually long chase scene that seemed more redundant than necessary. Moreover, how Hooper concludes the story seemed like he was rushing to get the project finished. Nevertheless, there are some very effective scenes and one of the most painful death scenes committed to film (and no blood!). The sound quality (or lack thereof), with high shrills and a metallic tone, amplifies the eeriness.

If you have never seen the film (this was my first time, actually), what The Little offers with these special screening is something to behold. Although Massacre does not stack up with the great horror films (The Exorcist, Rosemary’s Baby, Psycho, The Shining), the gravity of the film’s intensity and its lasting potency is easily felt inside a movie theater, one that is big enough to express that larger-than-life aesthetic while being small enough to remain intimate. This is why it behooves you to capitalize on these events. The feel, the tone, and the absurdity is all brought to perceptible immediacy with the organic projection of the 35mm print.

For more information on screenings and showtimes at The Little, go here: http://thelittle.org/

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