Welcome to Beat the Algorithm, a recurring column dedicated to providing you with relevant and diverse streaming recommendations based on your favorite movies. This time, we’re recommending movies like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise.
In 1974, director Tobe Hooper changed the trajectory of slasher horror forever with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, his renowned entry into the so-called Hixploitation subgenre. It follows a group of unsuspecting tourists who are terrorized by the chainsaw-wielding cannibalistic maniac Leatherface. An immediate smash-hit upon its release, the movie inspired eight feature-length sequels, spin-offs, and remakes.
The latest entry is David Blue Garcia‘s Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a Netflix Original sequel that takes place decades after the original and sees Leatherface antagonizing a group of young misfits after they move to a Texas ghost town.
It only stands to reason that, after watching the new installment, you’ll want to brush up on the slasher and hixploitation subgenres — or even do a deep-dive into them. And, yes, we know, this corner of cinema is uniquely dense and overwhelming, but that’s what you have us for. So read on for our handpicked list of movies to watch if you’re a fan of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise.
Motel Hell (1980)
You can check into the Motel Hell, but you can never leave…
If you like movies about murder, sadistic backwoods maniacs, cannibalism, or all of the above, look no further than Motel Hell, a film that follows a farmer (Rory Calhoun) who kidnaps his motel guests and turns them into sausages. This low-budget effort eventually became a cult classic and was lauded primarily for its dark, twisted humor. So if you like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies and you want to be even more terrified of being in rural areas/being turned into a meal/being subjected to creative murder weapons, Motel Hell should absolutely be next on your list.
Available on the Roku Channel, Tubi, Apple TV, Vudu, and Amazon Prime Video.
Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (2007)
If you’re a fan of rural horror, I’m guessing that you’ve already heard of the Wrong Turn series, one of the best my-car-broke-down-and-now-I’m-being-hunted-by-cannibals franchises in history. After the first one came out in 2003, it became an instant classic – praised especially for the creative torture methods employed by its sadistic killers (some of which even put Saw to shame).
The most suitable Wrong Turn recommendation for the Texas Chainsaw Massacre enthusiast, though, is Wrong Turn 2: Dead End. Directed by Joe Lynch, the sequel follows a group of unsuspecting people who travel to rural West Virginia to compete in a bootleg Survivor-esque reality TV show. Unsurprisingly, that’s not all there is to it; the backwoods cannibals are playing a violent game of their own. While all seven Wrong Turn movies would be a good match for the Texas Chainsaw fan, this one makes the final cut because it is so…damn…bloody. For a gory bonus suggestion, though, also watch the prequel, Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings.
Available on Google Play, Apple TV, Vudu, Amazon Prime Video, and YouTube.
Microwave Massacre (1979)
If you’re looking for a silly, ambitious, over-the-top B-grade horror movie, then Wayne Berwick’s Microwave Massacre is well worth your time. It stars Jackie Vernon as Donald, a man who’s becoming increasingly sick and tired of his wife, May (Claire Ginsberg), and her insistence on cooking only gourmet meals when all Donald really wants is a good old steak. One day Donald finally reaches the end of his rope, so what does he do? Bludgeons May to death with a pepper grinder, of course!
But that’s certainly not the last we see of May. Soon after the murder, Donald gets a taste for human flesh and begins to snack on his poor dead wife. Microwave Massacre wasn’t exactly met with rave reviews, but the movie’s sheer lunacy is a big part of its fun. And I, for one, have no issue whatsoever in vouching for its over-the-top, Cronenberg-esque visuals, unsettling comedy (both intentional and unintentional), and cringe-worthy gore. Plus, if you want to watch someone get eaten — let’s face it, that is part of why you’re here — what better movie to watch than one where a man sticks his dead wife’s head in a microwave?
Available on Tubi, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, and Apple TV.
Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964)
Herschell Gordon’s Two Thousand Maniacs! gets a special shoutout on this list as an early example of the depiction of Southern people in torture-heavy films, popularized later by bigger budget classics like — you guessed it — The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. This movie follows a group of northerners vacationing in the South, who are brutalized by local confederates still bitter about their loss in the Civil War. Two Thousand Maniacs! will undoubtedly be a joy for the Texas Chainsaw Massacre fan. With confederate flags, banjos, and blood galore, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better romp of a predecessor.
Available on Tubi and Amazon Prime Video.
The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
You didn’t really think we were going to leave The Hills Have Eyes off this list, did you? Written and directed by Wes Craven after his bloody smash-hit directorial debut, The Last House on the Left (1972), this movie follows an unsuspecting family who is traveling through the desert when their car breaks down — and if there’s anything I’ve learned as a horror movie-watching veteran, it’s that that is never a good sign.
Once they’re in the desert and left to their own devices, the family is hunted down by a clan of blood-thirsty cannibals. The movie was an instant hit, grossing $25 million at the box office. Today, it is at the very top of the list of horror cult classics, right alongside The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which had very clear influences on its successor — they both use the barren American landscape as a perfect breeding ground for horror, and they both take human-on-human horror to its absolute limits. And if you like The Hills Have Eyes, the good news is that it spawned three sequels, each a little harder to watch than the last.
Available on Tubi, the Roku Channel, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, YouTube TV, and Tubi.
Uncle Peckerhead (2020)
If anything, Uncle Peckerhead is evidence that the Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s influence lives on 30-plus years later. The movie, written and directed by Matthew John Lawrence, follows a band called “Duh” as they get ready to hit the road for their first-ever tour. The problem? They don’t have a van. The good news: A kind fella named Uncle Peckerhead offers to chauffeur them around. The bad news? When the clock strikes midnight, he turns into a bloodthirsty cannibal.
Uncle Peckerhead was met with largely positive reviews, which lauded the movie’s excessive gore and generally agreed that it is a heck-of-a-good-time. It’s a great pick if you want to watch something that exists in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre family — and also just be reminded that the backwoods horror film is not a dying art.
Available on Tubi, Vudu, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, YouTube, Google Play.
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