Courtesy of Business Insider
Every state has that one movie about it that is engrained in everyone’s collective memory. Okay, most states have that one movie. Personally, I feel like the crew over at Business Insider was stretching a bit when listing Jumanji as New Hampshire’s iconic movie, but for the most part every other state-movie pairing is spot-on. Alabama has Forrest Gump, New York’s got Taxi Driver, Arizona has Raising Arizona, and Hawaii has Pearl Harbor.
Here in Texas, we have The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the 1974 slasher film featuring the unhinged Leatherface (played by Gunnar Hansen) and his nontraditional family of cannibals, has undergone several sequels and remakes since its premiere, but none of them can hold a candle to the original. Horrified movie-watchers are still questioning director Tobe Hooper’s “based on a true story” claim. Well, sorry to burst your bubble, guys, but Leatherface isn’t real. Ed Gein, on the other hand, was totally real and was the inspiration for the character. Gein, who skinned people and decorated his home and face with said skin, was the inspiration for Psycho’s Norman Bates and The Silence of the Lambs’s Buffalo Bill also, making Leatherface’s character seem kind of bland and overplayed. Right?
No, not right. Leatherface’s mumbling, lumbering, and chainsaw dancing are all original and terrifying. Here are a few facts you may not know about him or about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in general:
- The movie was filmed up near Round Rock with a budget of only $60,000.
- It was originally titled “Headcheese.” Ew.
- The actors had to endure 18 hours of shooting per day in the 100+ degree summer heat. Apparently Hansen got really smelly during shooting and no one would hang out with him. Poor Leatherface.
- Hansen couldn’t be more unlike his cannibalistic Leatherface who speaks only in gibberish – at the time of filming, Hansen was enrolled in graduate school for both Scandinavian Studies and English.
- Leatherface, despite being a constant mumbler throughout the film, was not unable to express himself. Hansen cycled through three masks during different scenes in order to convey a variety of emotions.
- Hooper really wanted to secure a PG rating for his film, but all the implied gore was too much for the MPAA, and the movie was stuck with an R rating.
- Speaking of gore, a lot of the blood on Marilyn Burns (Sally in the film) was real. Hansen actually cut her finger open during the dinner scene, hopefully by serendipitous accident.
- All the blood and gore in the movie scared director Guillermo del Toro into becoming a vegetarian.
- Sure, Marilyn had her finger cut on set, and that blood was real, but the skeleton in the house toward the end of the film is a real human skeleton, which is creepier. Hooper found that buying real human remains from India was easier than buying a plastic skeleton. So bleak.
- If things weren’t weird enough for you already, consider this—John Larroquette, who provided the narration at the film’s beginning, was paid in weed.