The 1974 version of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre may be considered a part of the postmodern horror genre. If we were to assign this film to another genre, such as the classic category of horror, what would change? First, the realistic basis of the story would alter. The main villain is based upon a man named Ed Gein, the murder to killed many people in the decades preceding the film. Such an association in the film, which renders a fictional version of a terrible man, would not appear in classical film. In classical film, we see either direct historical displays of villains, such as Hitler in the early 20th century depictions of World War Two. Or, we see entirely fictional villians, like those in most any movie created pre-1950s.
But the postmodern horror film creates a character based on real life but not with entire clarity. In contrast to the classical genre, postmodern incorporates real life in a more subtle but bold way. The artists are not as afraid to offend the public; thus they hint at villains from real life for an extra scare. Most of the audience is probably unaware of Ed Gein, or exactly who he is, but when they discover this, it shocks them. In order to change the genre we would need to change the villain. The chainsaw murderer could either not resemble a person of historical existence or would need to be explicitly labeled as such. Therefore, the 1974 film would most likely opt for the latter, and display a villain named “Ed.”
The movie also uses stylized film work and a low-budget looking set. The camera jumps at times and the lighting accentuates the horror. Likewise, the film represents that postmodern feel of grit and reality. The people wear plain clothes, speak like everyday men and women, and the sets reflect regular environments. The only outlandish place is the wilderness like setting. But it is still realistic.
Classical film would cast the story in an ideal place, maybe a luxury city or posh condo, where a few rich couples get chased by a murderer. The producer would spend much more money on the setting and the props in the film. So instead of depending on a shack in the desert, the story would occur in a high-budget area. The creators would also cast Hollywood-type characters who epitomize the vanity of the classical film-making industry. The risk of having normal people in a film and especially landing poor performance in the box office would influence the classical creators. Not that it is all about money, but that certainly distinguishes genre. Classicists would not stand for any mediocre quality acting either; they want top performance.
Thus, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre requires a few serious overhauls if it can be classified as a classical horror film rather than a postmodern. Two primary ways to change it are by the correspondence of the villain to real life, various cinematic features, such as setting, and also character selection and actor performance. We should remember, however, that many aspects of genre remain. This study has not exhausted the overlap between postmodern and classical films, nor has it articulated all of the differences. But it does feature some of the primary characteristics in horror and accounts for those in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.