I first saw The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) about six or seven years ago when I was in college. It was a dark, disturbing, insane movie that pulls you down into the depths of a cannibal family’s world, where you may go mad along with the characters. The film wasn’t too my taste. Too dark and nihilistic. Having also watched it during a very bleak period of my life, I swore I’d never watch it again. Seriously, I would’ve walked out of the room if somebody turned it on and refused to switch away.
That all being said, I’ve never been in doubt of its success as a piece of film. It’s brilliant and expertly put together. With the death of its director and co-writer, Tobe Hooper, just a few days ago, I’ve looked back at the film a little through pictures, posters, and gifs as I think about that first, and so far only, viewing. I’m seeing it for the first time as the epitome of horror that it is. For the landmark in horror that it became. As a masterwork for a director sadly taken from this world. I’m even considering what was once unthinkable for me. I’m thinking of watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre again. And I can think of no greater compliment for director than that.
Rest in peace, Mr. Hooper.
“Hello, and welcome to Turner Classic Movies. I’m Robert Osborne. Tonight…”
This or something like it was what you could expect to hear kicking off your classic movie night at TCM. No matter the time or the movie, you always felt like Osborne was greeting you into his home to personally share one of his favorite films with you. He shared his vast knowledge of cinema history without ever sounding patronizing or snooty. He was just a big fan like the rest of us. Always genuine, always excited. He made you feel welcome and cozy as you spent a night wrapped up in a blanket, with a bowl of popcorn in your lap, while a film festival was broadcasted into your home.
No matter my mood I always felt safe tuning in to watch Osborne talk about movies, and I looked forward to seeing him just as much the films themselves. It was a place I could escape to when life or the world seemed too grim, too scary, or just plain impossible. That place is still there, but the man of the house, our esteemed and lovely host who made sure everything was just right before we arrived for a celebration of film, is gone. I never met Robert Osborne. I wish I could’ve. Just to be able to shake his hand and tell him what he’s meant to me and so many others would’ve made me happy. I can’t do that now. But I can take comfort in remembering all that he’s done and knowing those memories will insure that, just like the films he loved and cherished so much, he and his wonderful legacy will never be forgotten.
Roger Ebert was a great movie critic. There were those who didn’t like it, but he undeniably had a distinguished career. I’ve been rummaging through old Siskel and Ebert reviews and discussions lately, as I am prone to do every few months or so, and I’ve noticed that Ebert seems to get highlighted more often than Gene Siskel. That’s understandable given the fact that Siskel passed away nearly 16 years ago. Since then, I believe Ebert’s entire review catalog has been put online while only a smattering of Siskel’s can be found, Ebert has had various books published, Ebert continued to co-host At the Movies for many years after Siskel’s death, and Ebert stayed very much in the public consciousness. Even now, Ebert is back on everybody’s minds due to Life Itself, a documentary about Ebert’s life based on his bestselling autobiography published in 2011. This, I’m sure, will die down some in the coming years, but with all this praise being piled on Ebert (and deservedly so), I think Siskel is getting left out in the cold a little. I wanted to highlight him today, if only for a moment.