The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a 1974 American horror film, written, directed and produced by Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel, who had writing credits. The film features a cast of many unprofessional actors, including Marilyn Burns, Gunnar Hansen, Edwin Neal and Paul A. Partain. The film, despite its label as excessively graphic, does not rely so much on explicit gore to generate terror in the audience as it does on pacing, suspense, the deserted location and dramatic tension.
The plot of the film revolves primarily around a group of friends on a road trip in rural Texas. The purpose of the road trip is to visit the hometown of Sally and Franklin's father in order to check on their grandfather's grave after reports of grave robbing. After their van runs out of gas, the group of friends visits the childhood home of Sally and Franklin's father where they are attacked by a family of cannibalistic men, including the chainsaw-wielding Leatherface.
The film was an independent production, produced on a budget of just $83,532 and went on to gross $36,000,000 at the US box office in 1974 — making it the most successful independent film of all time, until surpassed by Halloween (1978). While it is not the first of its specific genre, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre influenced subsequent films in the sub-genre. The film is the first of four Chainsaw films (completed or pending) directed by Hooper and Henkel. In 2003, it spawned a remake.