The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)



Best for older teens and adults only.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Review Date: October 21, 2003
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 1974
  • Running Time: 83 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

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


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

Not applicable

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

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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?

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?


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. Overall, this is a very disturbing movie that is best for older teens and adults only. One final note: This version is much better (and less violent) than the 2003 remake.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:January 1, 1974
DVD release date:January 1, 1974
Cast:Ed Neal, Gunnar Hansen, Marilyn Burns
Director:Tobe Hooper
Studio:New Line
Run time:83 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:violence

This review of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) was written by

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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byhomey335 May 28, 2012

Good for late teens.

Violence: 7/10- There is a LOT of violence, but it isn't extremely graphic and gory or bloody. Sexual Content: 1/10: A teenager mentions porn. Language: 2/10: B*tch is used a couple times, along with h*ll and d*mn. Drugs and Drinking: 0/10- Not an issue. Frightining or scary scenes: 10/10- Not super bloody, but it is very scary.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Parent Written byharris231 September 10, 2012

Second big horror movie (First was The Exorcist)

What other families should know
Too much violence
Adult Written byQuinton_Moad February 5, 2011

"The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" is a solid horror movie but it can be frightening for younger viewers

"The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" isn't as bad as the title suggests nor does it deserve an R-rating. It's very frightening at times but with parental supervision, most children seven and older can watch it.
What other families should know
Too much violence


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