The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
For my money, the scariest film ever made. Relentless and brutal, with evil lurking in every frame, and a heroine (one of the earliest examples of “the survivor girl,” in fact, maybe the earliest) who gradually shows her toughness and ingenuity, making us root for her. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre follows a group of young adults taking an ill-advised trip through what looks like West Texas, stumbling upon a deranged family of cannibalistic butchers. The most famous among the family, Leatherface, stalks and kills all of the members of the group except Sally who spends the thrilling last half of the movie just trying to survive the most horrific and traumatic experiences before the film reaches its brilliant crescendo with this scene, this brisk ending, of Leatherface sulking in the glorious sun. Like all of the film, shot in an ultra-low budget fashion that only increases its effectiveness (making it feel authentic), this ending is raw. It ends, and I’m at first surprised that that’s it, but then come to see it as oddly faultless.