Kathy Shaidle

The Top 7 Horror Movies for Conservatives

Posted on October 31 2010 11:00 am
Kathy Shaidle blogs at FiveFeetOfFury, now entering its 11th year online. Her latest book is Acoustic Ladylandkathy shaidle, which Mark Steyn calls "a must-read."

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Click here to purchase The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2-Disc Ultimate Edition)

#7   The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Most of the latter day po-mo “readings” of TTCM posit the film as, to quote one critic, “a horror film version of the Hard Hat Riots.”

I wish. If that were so, I’d be a fan of the film instead of one of the few people on earth who doesn’t find it scary.

Anyhow: two subgenres pretty much dominate the last 30 years of horror films: the “Hicks’ Revenge” and the “Victim’s Revenge.”

Most slasher films fall into the latter camp (no Friday the 13th pun intended): girl who didn’t get invited to the prom/boy who got bullied go(es) on a rampage. These films are often dubbed “conservative” because they strongly suggest that any young person foolish enough to have sex, drink or use drugs will soon meet a grisly fate – as skillfully parodied in Wes Craven’s Scream series.

Then you have the “Hicks’ Revenge” genre, with stuff like Rob Zombie’s (outstanding) House of a Thousand Corpses/The Devil’s Rejects, or The Hills Have Eyes (the 2006 remake includes some blatantly partisan stuff, like the Democrat son-in-law whose appeasement strategy costs the tough Republican dad his life.)

You know the drill: gun-toting hillbillies prey on urban outsiders with car trouble in a the dusty, rusty, rustic landscape, cut off from civilization.

If you’re a conservative, your enjoyment of these films is tempered by your not-unrealistic suspicions that these “hillbillies” are the directors’ fantasy Republicans, taken to illogical extremes. Especially since the hicks are sometimes twisted kinds of capitalists, who run weird businesses on the side of the road.

Typically, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is held up as the first “Hicks’ Revenge” film. That’s false.

Otherwise, these same critics do get most of their facts right, but I’m still not convinced by their interpretations of TTCM, which see the familiar “Hicks’ Revenge” “we ran out of gas” trope as one freighted with “an underlying geopolitical and ecological message,” in tune with the movie’s times:

The first third of the film includes a scene hauntingly reminiscent of what many film viewers were experiencing in 1973 and 1974. Driving to gas stations that had no or limited fuel was a real dilemma many people faced, and this problem caused many Americans anxiety because they had to alter their travel plans, a shift that prompted personal, economic, and social consequences.

References to the oil crisis abound in the film’s early scenes. As the van pulls over for a pit stop to allow the wheelchair-bound Franklin an opportunity to urinate in the weeds, a news report is broadcast from its radio, reporting a series of grisly events. One report, perhaps the most audible, states that unrest in “oil-rich regions…today erupted into violence…”

Note too that Leatherface’s weapon of choice, the titular chainsaw, runs on… gasoline.

But even if now you’re thinking, “Hey, that sounds pretty deep,” all that fancy stuff flies out the window with the same critic puts in:

“…the film’s pro-capitalism view is most poignantly articulated by this horrific mantra: ‘people have the right to live off other people.’

Anyone who’s lived in the real world realizes that line makes the cannibals in the film socialists, not capitalists.

This is especially believable if you consider the failed businesses that litter the cannibals’ immediate vicinity, and the fact that they are parasites of convenience, who laze around all day waiting to feed on victims who happen to be passing through.

Hey, I just made all that up off the top of my head. And I didn’t even go to college!

(By the way: yes, that is John Laroquette voicing the opening narration for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.)

(And it isn’t “based on a true story.”)

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