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Gunnar Hansen on what constitutes horror

“It even has that Gothic essential, the old crumbling house in which the past looms”

Gunnar Hansen, who played Leatherface in the original 1974 Tobe Hooper film, here asks whether The Texas Chain Saw Massacre can truly be considered a horror film.

Is The Texas Chain Saw Massacre a horror movie? One evening recently as I was having dinner with some friends in the horror business, one of them said to me, “Chain Saw isn’t really a horror movie. To be horror, there has to be some supernatural element. Still, it’s my favourite horror movie.”

That pretty much answers it. Whether or not you believe that “real” horror must have a supernatural element, Chain Saw unquestionably evokes the emotions that define horror, that are horror – the sense of dread, oppression, and emptiness, the loss of control, the glimpse of the unfathomable.

Of course Chain Saw also has many of those story and character elements that most horror movies use to invoke these emotions – the monster and its centrality, the darkness (even in bright sunlight), the destruction of normality, the nightmare, the irrational, the gruesome and dangerous, evil.

It even has that Gothic essential, the old crumbling house in which the past looms. This time, though, it is the old Franklin place, and the past it carries is nothing more than Sally’s recollections of zebras. The old house really is a bow to the Gothic and an entry point into the nightmare.

From Chain Saw Confidential: How We Made the World’s Most Notorious Horror Movie by Gunnar Hansen

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