The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is considered one of the greatest—and most controversial—of horror films, and a major influence on the genre. In 1999 Richard Zoglin of Time commented that it had “set a new standard for slasher films”. The Times listed it as one of the 50 most controversial films of all time. Tony Magistrale believes the film paved the way for horror to be used as a vehicle for social commentary. Describing it as “cheap, grubby and out of control”, Mark Olsen of the Los Angeles Times declared that it “both defines and entirely supersedes the very notion of the exploitation picture”.
It was originally rated “X”. After several minutes were cut, it was resubmitted to the MPAA and received an “R” rating. A distributor apparently restored the offending material, and at least one theater presented the full version under an “R”. In San Francisco, cinema-goers walked out of theaters in disgust and, in February 1976, two theaters in Ottawa, Canada were advised by local police to withdraw the film lest they face morality charges.