Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a fiercely original film that remains one of the best horror movies ever made to this day. It was not the first isolated horror of the 1970s, but it set the standard. In fact, it set the standard in such a particular way that many of the films that followed on its heels were pointed out for having a few too many similarities.
Over forty years later, there are a lot of movies that are quickly referred to as rip offs of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Most backwoods horror is referred to as such. But while I think many of them certainly took inspiration from Hooper’s masterpiece, quite a few are pretty great. A couple of them have even become classics in their own right.
Whether they’re rip offs or not, these are solid backwoods, isolated, survival-based horror movies that wear their inspirations on their sleeve.
Motel Hell is a bizarre, fun, hilarious food industry horror has much more to do with picking off stragglers and turning them into delicious smoked meats than it has anything to do with the actual running of a hotel. Farmer Vincent combines the best aspects of the cook and Leatherface. He’s a businessman with a genuine heart, but who also dons a mask and wields a chainsaw when he needs to.
Yes, Tobe Hooper even did his own new spin on Texas Chain Saw Massacre with Eaten Alive. Featuring appearances by Chain Saw’s Marilyn Burns and Robert Englund, Eaten Alive is a similar backwoods horror to Hooper’s classic except set in the deep south. The killer also gets inventive by feeding his victims to his pet alligators.
Wrong Turn 2
Wrong Turn got a lot of attention for being a Texas Chainsaw ripoff that happened to come out right around the same time as the remake, but I’m going with the second simply because it’s a better movie. It took the original concept and applied the backwoods approach to a reality show which was absolutely appropriate for the mid-2000s.
Deranged: Confessions of a Necrophile
Once word got out that Chain Saw was inspired by the exploits of real-life serial killer Ed Gein, others saw the opportunity to create their own interpretation of events. In the case of Deranged, it’s a much more straightforward portrayal, even if the names are changed. Ezra Cobb is very much Ed Gein. In general, it’s an interesting, gritty, often surrealist little exploitation slasher.
Mother’s Day is an unexpected movie for Troma. It still has their trademark cheesiness and sense of humor that you expect from the company, but then there’s a also a great sincerity and heart to it. It’s shocking in that it’s actually kind of good. Legitimately good which is not what you usually expect out of Troma. It’s still goofy and great.
The Hills Have Eyes
The Hills Have Eyes is of course a classic in its own right. But in many ways it’s definitely similar to Texas Chain Saw Massacre. It’s still about a family in the wrong place at the wrong time, brutally picked off by a group of deranged, hidden locals. According to Gunnar Hansen, he was even offered the role that eventually went to Michael Berryman—who became an icon in his own right.
House of 1,000 Corpses
Rob Zombie has always felt destined to remake The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Or at least direct an entry in the Chainsaw franchise. It’s amazing he went with Halloween instead because Leatherface seems so much more catered to his interests. But maybe that’s why he chose it. Even still, House of 1,000 Corpses is basically an honorary entry in the Chainsaw series.