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Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Texas chainsaw massacre: A script analysis.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the perfect horror film script. Showcasing a slow build up with characters totally out of their depth in any situation they find themselves in, it is an uneasy read, but one with many things one does not pick up on when viewing the movie. It is minimalist in it's characterization, but this only helps with the attempted realism of the script, not allowing you to know much about any of the characters featured, but allowing you to absorb the horrific goings on and constant references to death and decay. It also seems to be a commentary on the neuroses of the white male mindset, at least in the latter part of the script. The family of Cook, Hitchhiker and Leatherface have no feminine role model, and all they seem to live for is the procurement of their next meal and the collection of goods they take from their unfortunate victims. When these people are faced with representatives of a progressive society outside of their normal day to day lives, they choose to exert their power and consume them. The protagonists are all young, and seem at odds with the locals, who are always described as strange looking. There is a scene where the characters are drinking outside of a petrol station/cafe, when a young child comes out of the cafe crying. He runs straight at one of the males, sinking his teeth into his leg. Yet another portent of what is to come.

The script begins with an incredible description of the sun,  the giver of life on earth. It then describes the sun fading to an eyeball, and then begins to describe a corpse of a dead dog, it's jaw nearly removed from it's skull. In the first few lines of the script, we are introduced to life and death in both extremes, and it is certainly the death that hits harder. It is also mentioned that the van the characters are traveling in is moving towards the corpse of the dog. This could be seen as the characters in the van approaching death. There are also a few lines of the script that describe the radio mentioning various atrocities and disasters, showing that the world is becoming more violent and destructive place.

There are a few references to space and planets. It is said when the moon is full, crazy people do even crazier things. This is referenced twice in the first few pages of the script, and can be seen as one of the reasons (if you believe it to be true) of the horrors that befall the group of friends. Saturn being in retrograde (where an object is seen to be moving in reverse, but is still in fact moving forward) is mentioned around the same time as the moon, and is also explained as a reason for bad things happening to the characters on their trip to Houston. Again, the script certainly doesn't hold your hand, never forcing these views onto the reader. It only seems to hint at them through conversation between the characters about space and horoscopes.

The character of Leatherface is nearly completely dehumanized, not allowing the reader of the script to identify with him or his despicable actions. He wears a mask of wrinkled skin so his features are never described. He doesn't communicate with words and has a habit of squealing and whinnying when he is chasing his victims, before brutally murdering them with hammer blows or his trademark chainsaw. He is usually described as monstrous and never as human. Later in the script, when he is being disciplined by Cook for allowing someone to escape, the script describes him as a lost child, cowering before the authority of his father figure, and then when he stops being threatened by Cook, he responds by cooing and becoming excitable, again like a small child. This is the only instance where the script even hints at the character of Leatherface showing any humanity whatsoever.

The villains of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre do not see their actions as wrong so much as unpleasant, but only Cook "can't take no pleasure in killing". He considers their actions to be an unfortunate by product of their way of life. This is most prevalent when Cook is talking to main character Sally, and says to her "There's somethings you got to do in life, that don't mean you have to like it". He also complains when the Hitchhiker is toying with Sally when she is held captive. The villains are incapable of change, and go as far as murder and cannibalism to stave off the ever changing ways of society and to keep the old ways of their town alive.

The ending of the script certainly left me with a chill. The final girl, Sally, is driven out of town, screaming hysterically after being chased by Leatherface. The script then tells of another van, full of screaming cattle driving into the town to be slaughtered. This again shows that the villains in the piece, and maybe the whole population of the town, considered the young folk to be nothing more than cattle to be killed, consumed and eaten. Maybe this was due to their dislike of change that the youngsters represented, or maybe a commentary on capitalism which was happening at the time, with small businesses cannibalizing larger businesses of the same kind. Either way, it was a fitting end to a minimalistic yet brutal and disturbing script.

Darkest regards......Dani.

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