The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

Movie review by
Beth Pratt, Common Sense Media
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Best for older teens and adults only.
  • R
  • 1974
  • 83 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 22 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 48 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The cast is all white; one character is in a wheelchair. The characters pick up a hitchhiker.

Violence

Graphic description of how cows are slaughtered. Characters are cut, stabbed, sliced, and hung--but there is not nearly as much blood/gore as there is in modern horror movies. Disturbing images, such as decaying bodies, skeletons, and a nest of daddy lo

Sex
Language

Mild, especially considering that the characters are being chased by crazed killers.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that although this movie has some blood and gore, the amount is noticeably less than what appears in modern horror movies. Also missing here is the extremely profane language and sex/nudity that are very much a part of current scary movies. Despite this, the movie is still way too scary and intense for younger teens--if you watch with your older teen, you might want to discuss how horror movies have changed over time. Do they think the additional violence in modern horror flicks makes them scarier?

Wondering if The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) is OK for your kids?

Parents: Set preferences and get age-appropriate recommendations with Common Sense Media Plus. Join now

Continue reading Show less

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byAnonymos June 27, 2019
Adult Written byNicole D August 9, 2020

not the scariest but

this movie is obviously a classic and a must watch. for the scare factor it’s not all that scary but i definitely do find leatherface to be one of the scariest... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bySeminolefreak March 23, 2011

A whole lot better than the remake

My MPAA Rating, R: Strong bloody horror violence, mild language, tense sequences of violence, and disturbing images/moments
Teen, 13 years old Written byCarl Wheezer of... August 11, 2020

Minimum Gore + Maximum Camerawork Somehow Still Manages to = Mediocre

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is, in a word, underwhelming. And for the life of me, I can't understand why. It contains some of the best horror tropes out th... Continue reading

What's the story?

In this horror classic, Sally and her brother Franklin learn that their grandfather's grave may have been desecrated, so they, along with three of their friends, hop in a van to go investigate. On the way, they pick up a hitchhiker who turns out to be insane. After they force him out of the van, they continue on to Sally and Franklin's grandfather's abandoned house. Before long, they meet up with the crazed cannibal named Leatherface (his mask is made of human flesh), and his equally insane family. One by one they are chased and brutally killed by this evil madman until only one remains.

Is it any good?

As you might imagine, this is a very disturbing movie that is best for older teens and adults only. THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE is considered a classic by horror movie aficionados, and it's easy to see why--at the time, no one had ever created anything quite like it. Some called it a brilliant commentary on a post-Vietnam era. Others called it the most offensive movie ever made. Regardless, it struck a chord with audiences back in 1974, and it still manages to capture our attention today.

Despite this terrifying premise, the blood and guts is kept to a minimum for an R-rated movie. When someone is stabbed, we don't actually see the knife going into the flesh or the bloody organs that lie beneath. The audience is left to fill in these blanks on their own. Yet, the movie still manages to be extremely scary. The chase scenes are especially intense, and the scene is which Sally attends the family dinner is horrifying because we can see her pure terror--the camera zooms in on the blood vessels popping out of her eyes. One final note: This version is much better (and less violent) than the 2003 remake.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the difference in amount and type of violence in this horror classic, and some of the more graphic films of today. Do you think it's possible for young people, and even adults, to become desensitized to violence by watching really violent films?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love horror

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate