The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

The Film That Terrified a Rattled Nation

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About The Book

Lanza turns his attentions to the production, reception, social climate, and impact of a movie that rattled the American psyche in the wake of Nixon, Watergate, and Vietnam.

When Tobe Hooper’s low-budget slasher film, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, opened in theaters in 1974, it was met in equal measure with disgust and reverence. The film—in which a group of teenagers meet a gruesome end when they stumble upon a ramshackle farmhouse of psychotic killers—was outright banned in several countries and was pulled from many American theaters after complaints of its violence.

Despite the mixed reception from critics, it was enormously profitable at the domestic box office and has since secured its place as one of the most influential horror movies ever made.

Joseph Lanza transports the reader back to the tumultuous era of the 1970s defined by political upheaval, cultural disillusionment, and the perceived decay of the nuclear family in the wake of Watergate, the onslaught of serial killers in the US, as well as mounting racial and sexual tensions. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Its Terrifying Times sets the themes of the film against the backdrop of the political and social American climate to understand why the brutal slasher flick connected with so many viewers. As much a book about the movie as the moment,

Joseph Lanza has created an engaging and nuanced work that grapples with the complications of the American experience.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Skyhorse (May 21, 2019)
  • Length: 304 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781510737907

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Raves and Reviews

Praise for Texas Chain Saw Massacre: 

“Lanza's prose is clear and dynamic… deserves a place in the horror academic canon…”
–The Austin Chronicle

“This is a smartly written, well-structured survey worth the attention of both horror film fans and sociologists”
–Publisher’s Weekly

"...It is nice to finally have a definitive text about the sociopolitical influences upon the film and the implications suggested by the film.
After all, no film is made in a vacuum...This approach makes the book a must read for scholars and fans alike and
sets itself apart from other books about this classic film." —Cinemaliterate

“This smart and well-researched analysis of a cult classic is recommended for horror fans.”
–Library Journal

Praise for Gravity: Tilted Perspectives on Rocketships, Rollercoasters, Earthquakes, and Angel Food

In these essays, Lanza (Elevator Music) draws clever analogies between Superman and Liberace (who liked to fly on stage), interprets the evolution of kitchen design as a battle against falling objects, and points out that while Norman Schwarzkopf was masterminding air attacks on Baghdad and Kuwait, his distant relative Anton Schwarzkopf, a "thrill ride" designer, was orchestrating a roller-coaster revival." -- Entertainment Weekly

"In this tasty souffle of a book, full of buoyant, anti-gravity prose, Joseph Lanza treats us to a light yet far from insubstantial look at the weightiest subject of all. It is a giddy guided tour of pop culture as seen through the "tilted perspective" of the rollercoaster fanatic... Lanza's brilliance lies in the fact that he makes each precarious did into the valleys of rollercoaster arcana serve as a prelude to ascending exhilarating peaks where the entire cultural landscape opens up, allowing you to glimpse -- if only for a moment -- the interconnectedness of all things . . . If you want to give your imagination a ride and your spirits a lift, drop everything and pick up a copy of Gravity"--Los Angeles Times Book Review

Praise for Phallic Frenzy: Ken Russell and His Films

"Lanza has managed to disguise his masterful research as a near-neo novel with gothic and surreal overtones. I applaud the man, having done the same with my own biographies on composers."--Ken Russel, director of Altered States, for the London Times

"Everything you ever wanted to know—and more—about the wild child of Cinema Britannia." --Financial Times

Praise for Gravity: Tilted Perspectives on Rocketships, Rollercoasters, Earthquakes, and Angel Food

In these essays, Lanza (Elevator Music) draws clever analogies between Superman and Liberace (who liked to fly on stage), interprets the evolution of kitchen design as a battle against falling objects, and points out that while Norman Schwarzkopf was masterminding air attacks on Baghdad and Kuwait, his distant relative Anton Schwarzkopf, a "thrill ride" designer, was orchestrating a roller-coaster revival." -- Entertainment Weekly

"In this tasty souffle of a book, full of buoyant, anti-gravity prose, Joseph Lanza treats us to a light yet far from insubstantial look at the weightiest subject of all. It is a giddy guided tour of pop culture as seen through the "tilted perspective" of the rollercoaster fanatic... Lanza's brilliance lies in the fact that he makes each precarious did into the valleys of rollercoaster arcana serve as a prelude to ascending exhilarating peaks where the entire cultural landscape opens up, allowing you to glimpse -- if only for a moment -- the interconnectedness of all things . . . If you want to give your imagination a ride and your spirits a lift, drop everything and pick up a copy of Gravity"--Los Angeles Times Book Review

Paise for Phallic Frenzy: Ken Russell and His Films

"Lanza has managed to disguise his masterful research as a near-neo novel with gothic and surreal overtones. I applaud the man, having done the same with my own biographies on composers."--Ken Russel, director of Altered States, for the London Times

"Everything you ever wanted to know—and more—about the wild child of Cinema Britannia." --Financial Times

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