The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Take out the word “Chainsaw” and it could be the title of a Western. And what do you know? It is.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre takes place over one day, from sunrise after a night of grave desecrations to sunrise after a night of unspeakable murderous horror. Sunset comes not at the end of the film but at its center.
The east-to-west movement of the sun has stood, as long as there has been poetry, for two eternal kinds of motion: the adventurous drive toward discovery and new frontier, pulling what passes for civilization from central Asia to Europe, from Europe to America, and from America’s East to her beckoning West; and also the inevitable progress of every being, human or otherwise, toward that undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler ever returns. Unlike the sun, we do not rise again with each new day.
Between the emphatic shots of sun (and later, moon) that punctuate The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the film relies on shots that never allow us to lose sight of the unobstructed rural Texas landscape. But these are not the widescreen landscapes, the cloud-studded bright sky blues and warm golds of sun-kissed grain so familiar from the cinematized western mythos. Instead they are the bleached browns of desiccation, the pale greens of decay.