Terror in the Aisles. That was the film which pushed my obsession with Texas Chainsaw Massacre into a full-blown case of fanaticism. Released in 1984, Terror in the Aisles was a horror documentary of sorts. Donald Pleasence and Nancy Allen took audiences on a tour of the best parts of horror movies, all while talking about them. In hindsight, it was probably kind of ridiculous, but horror documentaries were not prevalent back in that time, and neither were things that took horror seriously, so I needed to see it.
It has been decades since I have viewed it, but if memory serves me correctly, there were two or three scenes from Texas Chainsaw Massacre in it. One I believe involved Leatherface slamming that giant metal door. Regardless, those few scenes filled me with something I had not felt during a horror movie since I was a little kid, and at this point I was barely a teenager. That something was fear. Those scenes filled me with absolute pure fear.
And I loved it.
The scenes from Texas Chainsaw Massacre looked different than the other movies being showcased in the documentary. The film stock was grainy. Old. Documentary-like. The actors were not people I recognized. The mask on Leatherface looked real. For me, those scenes were what horror could be. They were what horror should be. Forget demonic possession, haunted houses, and the slasher who kept coming back to life. The stuff happening during those scant scenes were things that could happen in real life and had actually been inspired, how ever loosely, by real events.
I started to beg my parents to buy me the film. At this time in the early ’80s, streaming was not a thing. The Internet was not standard. My neighborhood had one video store, and it did not carry the film. It had Faces of Death, which I thought was silly, but not Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I started asking fellow horror fans at school if they had a copy or had seen it. Not a single one had. One said he would never watch it based on what his dad had said about it. Some had not even heard of it.
Then I was faced with the daunting prospect of money. If I could find a VHS copy of it, it may have been priced too high to buy. They called it “priced to rent” at the time. Movies were priced intentionally high to make a profit from video stores with the thought that nobody would buy them for home use. Imagine that. It was not uncommon to see VHS tapes priced at $80 brand new! If I was going to face this, I may as well kiss my hopes of seeing it goodbye.
My parents were getting tired of hearing me begging for it. I was not wearing them down. I was making them mad. But then on my birthday I had a familiar shaped package wrapped in bright paper handed to me. It was the size, shape, and weight of a VHS tape. Could it be? It was.
I had the movie, and my life would never be the same.
To be continued…
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