Martin HarrisSep 15, 2021
Leatherface Vs. Tricky Dick
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre as Political Satire
The Watergate scandal was a horror show. What better way to satirize it than with a horror movie? The Texas Chain Saw Massacre written by Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel premiered in October 1974, mere weeks after the resignation and pardon of Richard Nixon brought an uncertain end to the most corrupt and criminal presidency in American history. The film had been conceived, written, shot, edited, and produced precisely as Watergate was playing out, and those responsible for Chain Saw unhesitatingly spoke of the horrors of contemporary politics as having directly inspired the ones they created for the film. In his new book, Leatherface vs. Tricky Dick: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre as Political Satire (Headpress, 2021), Martin Harris presents a fascinating minute-by-minute exploration of the many uncanny connections between The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Watergate, as well as other ways the film comments on contemporary politics via satire and (very) dark humor.
Rebekah Buchanan is an Associate Professor of English and Director of English Education at Western Illinois University. Her research focuses on feminism, activism, and literacy practices in youth culture, specifically through zines and music.