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Monster Mishmash: Icon, Intertext, and Integument in Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

  • Larrie Dudenhoeffer
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Abstract

Along with Herk Harvey’s Carnival of Souls (1962) and George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968), Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) represents one of the watersheds—if not bloodsheds—of independent filmmaking. As film critic Joe Bob Briggs describes it:

The most enduring flick of the hippie era was made by twenty-eight-year-old Tobe Hooper, perhaps the most underappreciated horror director in history, who used $60,000 raised by an Austin politician to create a film that is still shown in almost every country in the world, and whose innovations have continued to influence the horror genre for the last thirty years.1

Keywords

Great Depression Full Moon Film Critic Horror Cinema American Audience 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    Joe Bob Briggs, Profoundly Disturbing: Shocking Movies That Changed History! (New York: Universe, 2003), 188.Google Scholar
  2. 8.
    Michael Ryan and Douglas Kellner, in contrasting the “classical” to the “new critical monster film,” argue that whereas the Universal (and also the 1950s science fiction) films rehearse the narrative of an external threat to the social order that conservative forces eventually re-stabilize, films like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre reflect the increase in conservative influence since the 1960s and transcode Americans’ attitudes toward what seem more internal cultural threats. Philip Jenkins corroborates this argument, claiming that the mid-1970s saw a “marked change in the national mood” about the state of America’s future, and that the orthodoxies of social liberalism at that time “contained the seeds of a later reaction,” one traceable in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’s treatment of the counterculture. See Michael Ryan and Douglas Kellner. Camera Politica: The Politics and Ideology of Contemporary Hollywood Film (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990), 179Google Scholar
  3. and Philip Jenkins, Decade of Nightmares: The End of the Sixties and the Making of Eighties America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), 4, 46.Google Scholar
  4. Herbert Hoover, “Annual Message to the Congress on the State of the Union: December 8, 1931,” The American Presidency Project, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/sou.php.
  5. 10.
    David J. Skal, The Monster Show: A Cultural History of Horror (New York: Faber and Faber, 1993), 115.Google Scholar
  6. 13.
    Stephen D. Arata, “The Occidental Tourist: Dracula and the Anxiety of Reverse Colonization,” in The Horror Reader, ed. Ken Gelder (New York: Routledge, 2000), 170.Google Scholar
  7. 17.
    Robin Wood, “Returning the Look: Eyes of a Stranger,” in American Horrors: Essays on the Modern American Horror Film, ed. Gregory A. Waller (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1987), 82.Google Scholar
  8. 20.
    Paul Wells, The Horror Genre: From Beelzebub to Blair Witch (London: Wallflower Press, 2000), 52.Google Scholar
  9. Franklin D. Roosevelt, “Fireside Chat: December 9, 1941,” The American Presidency Project, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/sou.php.
  10. 26.
    Andrew Tudor, Monsters and Mad Scientists: A Cultural History of the Horror Movie (Oxford, UK: Basil Blackwell, 1989), 218–22.Google Scholar
  11. 29.
    Archie K. Loss, Pop Dreams: Music, Movies, and the Media in the 1960s (Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace, 1999), 135–36.Google Scholar
  12. 31.
    Reynold Humphries, The American Horror Film: An Introduction (Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press, 2002), 123–24.Google Scholar
  13. 33.
    Robin Wood, “Neglected Nightmares,” in Horror Film Reader, ed. Alain Silver and James Ursini (New York: Limelight Editions, 2000), 117.Google Scholar
  14. 41.
    Gregory A. Waller, “Introduction to American Horrors,” in The Horror Reader, ed. Ken Gelder (New York: Routledge, 2000), 258.Google Scholar

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© Larrie Dudenhoeffer 2014

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  • Larrie Dudenhoeffer

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