The other night I was watching Messiah of Evil aka Dead Bodies (Courtesy of Cult Reviews) and I noticed something about independent 70s horror. For a while I could not put my finger on it until I realized that it had to do with the way the movie scares it’s audience. It was something that I noticed in Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Piranha, Bay of Blood and even Black Christmas. I had a fan of mine, A.W. Quinn, message me and tell me that the word I was looking for was ‘raw.’ That’s exactly the word I was looking for; the horror in these 70s b-movies and even some studio made movies are extremely raw.
Let’s take Messiah of Evil for example: the jump-out scares of this film have absolutely not anticipation, or if they do, it’s very light. In horror films nowadays you have music that progressively gets tenser and tenser, making the audience anticipate the scare. It does the job effectively to some degree but with this film, there is no anticipation, I just jumps out and smacks you in the face. There is no music, just the natural sounds of the scene and a few sound effects. It puts your right there in the movie and makes it more realistic.
Now, when we first see Leatherface in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre the door opens and the character looks up at him; there is not music, there is barely any sound and he pops out. It’s shocking to the audience and it leaves them stunned. Leatherface then clubs the character and drags him into the room and closes the rusty doors. Here, the only thing we really hear is the clubbing and the sounds of the rusty doors, which only adds to the rawness of the film.
This was just a thought that crept into my head as I watched this movie. It was a great movie and I think it would have been so much better had I seen it on VHS.