Wes Craven's infamous 1972 film has accrued a mighty reputation and taken its place among similarly uncompromising and controversial fare as "Driller Killer", "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", and "I Spit on Your Grave". These films suffered the wrath of the censorship watchdogs, even though they attempted to deal with sensitive issues such as psychosis, rape, and the destruction of contemporary society in an honest, albeit provocative, way.
The film emerged a few years after the horrors of the Manson Family massacre and uses those events as the starting point from which to evaluate the decay of American culture, specifically the darkness striking at the heart of families across America. Two teenage girls (Sandra Cassel and Lucy Grantheim) are on their way to a rock concert when they are abducted, tortured, raped, and murdered by a gang of psychopaths. The parents of the girls discover their fate and taking the law into their own hands decide to wreak their own form of bloody, brutal revenge with various instruments of destruction, most memorable among them a chainsaw.
The film retains its capacity to shock due largely to the cold, flat, and dispassionate style in which Craven depicts the events. The film, to its credit, details both the initial acts of violation and the revenge that ensues as similarly de-humanising and reprehensible. Far from subtle, it still perhaps ranks as Craven's best work and speaks volumes for the disparity in censorship regarding non-studio fare and the carte-blanche enjoyed by Hollywood productions as they merrily kill, maim, and generally blow people away with unfettered abandonment.