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Friday, 8 July 2016

Guest Blog #3 - From The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) to Plane Walker – How Senses Can Shape a Narrative by C. P. Dunphey

Welcome to the third of the guest blog slots for 5D. This particular piece comes from C.P Dunphey, who was born in Staten Island, New York. He grew up in Southern Mississippi and had an interest in writing since he was very young. In 2015, he founded his own publishing company, Gehenna Publishing House. His first novel, Plane Walker, was released in 2016. Here at 5D headquarters we'll be reviewing the novel, which is winging it's way across the pond as I write this, in the next couple of weeks.

C.P hopes to further his writing as well as offer authors opportunities to be heard and read, his dream being that Gehenna Publishing House becomes a household name. The sequel to his novel, Plane Walker, titled Heiron, is slated for release in early 2017.

If you would like to be a guest blogger for me then you can contact me through my website at

From The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) to Plane Walker – How Senses Can Shape a Narrative by C. P. Dunphey

My junior year in college, I decided to take a film class.  I had always been a huge film buff and decided it would be appropriate and fun to take a class that required me to study something I loved.  I had this wonderful professor, Dr. French, and he showed us several fantastic films which we later discussed.  From Vertigo (1958) to Harold and Maude (1971), classics were prominent.  Each film was chosen to discuss specific aspects of film.  So when Dr. French told us that for the chapter on Sound we would be watching The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), I must say we were bewildered at first.  I had never seen the film and many classmates had not either.  It was a notorious movie and we all knew we were in for a trip.  Dr. French told us we weren’t required to watch it considering the nature of the film.

            When we finally screened the movie, I was blown away.  Especially when Dr. French talked about how all of the score was composed with metal objects scraping against each other, due to budget constraints.  And also how the director Tobe Hooper, asked for a “G” rating from the MPAA because there was such a shortage of on-screen violence.  Of course the MPAA declined and they gave him an “X” rating.  Hooper tried again for a “PG” after edits and only then did he receive an “R” rating. 

            The fact of the matter is, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) was a film that terrified primarily by the senses.  The sounds and score left you to imagine the worst and because of the score, the film was more effective than any could have imagined.  Now the film is considered to be a classic.  The fascinating thing about this movie, is the use of the senses to invoke fear and suspense.  The film does not have a lot of on-screen violence, but what is left to be implied by sounds and visuals, will haunt you for the rest of your days.

            When I began writing Plane Walker, I chose a stream-of-consciousness narrative and from the beginning it was a struggle to invoke feelings of fear and dread with the voice of a singular character.  It took a lot of editing and a lot of different ideas for the novel to finally form into the visceral entity it is now.  One of my biggest inspirations during this struggle was the use of senses in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974).  I knew after seeing that film that it was possible to use techniques through narrative to create an atmosphere of discomfort and suspense.

            Through protagonist Lazarus’s eyes, I tried to convey his thoughts into detail and crisp description in a way that would make the readers feel vacuumed into his mind.  I used every one of the five senses in every way I could, often creating elements that were unfamiliar to normal human senses.  I tried to use sound, visuals, and touch as my primary storytellers.  With Lazarus’s suit, Hyperion, there are several scenes where he describes in great detail the confines of his suit and what psychological comfort the machine gives to him.  Though it was difficult, I found ways to convey the images and feelings I had in my mind for the narrative.  None of it would have been as inspired if I hadn’t attended that film class junior year of college, where the great Mr. French introduced me to the classic horror film, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974).

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