The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is horrifying. I’ve watched so many of my favorites so many times that they lose some of the effectiveness that was their original appeal. I know all the beats too well to be genuinely upset or scared. I keep revisiting them more for nostalgia or appreciation of craft than for that visceral feeling that I may have first gotten. I know all the beats of Chainsaw as well, but I still find it unsettling.
This isn’t the place though for me to be telling you how great the movie is. There are some awesome reviews out there that do a much better job than I ever could.
Instead, I want to talk about a moment of levity amidst the final few frenzied minutes.
Here’s how it went down. Lone survivor Sally breaks out of a window and escapes with the Sawyer family in hot pursuit. The crazy hitchhiker gets run over by an 18 wheeler called Black Maria. Black Maria’s driver is understandably upset by this and pulls over to see what’s going on. He’s greeted by a blood caked Sally and an enraged Leatherface.
Mr. Maria pulls Sally in and closes the door on Leatherface. Fortunately, Leatherface doesn’t think of sticking his chainsaw through the open window. Instead, he scratches up the door’s paint job.
The driver and Sally escape out the passenger side and grab a wrench on the way. After running a few yards, the driver turns and throws the wrench. It’s a good throw too; he hits Leatherface square in the middle of the forehead. Leatherface goes down long enough for Sally to escape into the bed of a passing pick up truck.
What about the driver though? That’s the moment that I want to add to my collection today. There’s one long shot where the pick up dodges Sally and then turns around. As it makes the turn, we see the Black Maria driver continuing to run off in the opposite direction.
There’s nothing wrong with the logic here. I’d run too. I just find the shot of him running notable for a few reasons. First, he’s overweight. And it’s the funny kind of overweight too. The kind of overweight that features tight t-shirts and a whole lot of soft jiggling.
Second, he’s agile. Watch his hands as he tries unsuccessfully to steer out of the way as Sally is in the middle of the road struggling with the hitchhiker. His moving his hands furiously, but the Black Maria doesn’t seem to be all that responsive of a vehicle. Also note how he changes directions when he realizes there’s a maniac running after him with a running chainsaw. Those are survival instincts you can’t teach.
Finally, he just keeps on running! His purpose in the movie is to provide an exciting interlude that dispatched the hitchhiker and give Sally an opportunity to get on the pick up truck. After that purpose has been served, there’s little left for him to do. Hooper can’t just have him disappear, so he runs out of frame.
Again, this is plausible enough. Leatherface doesn’t chase him because he’s running in the opposite direction. But the shot of him running makes me wonder what happens to him after he leaves the frame? Is he still running to this day? Probably not. I am betting he had a hell of a story when he got home though. I wish there was a deleted scene showing him at home explaining it to his family. It would be even better if he got his own spinoff movie, possibly with Bobby Rhodes’s pimp character from Demons.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre has so many unforgettable moments but curious moments like this are easy to miss amidst all the chaos.