'Texas Chainsaw Massacre': Here's how demonic Leatherface was created

In 1974, the original 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' introduced a villain that changed everything. Let's get to know how the character was created


                            'Texas Chainsaw Massacre': Here's how demonic Leatherface was created
Gunnar Hansen as Leatherface in 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' (Raven Pictures/IMDb)
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It has been more than four decades that the original ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ was released in theatres and it changed the way people looked at horror movies. Although the movie received a mixed reception upon its release, it later gained cult status after a lot of media outlets labeled it as one of the “most purely horrifying horror movies ever made”.

One of the most horrifying aspects of the movie was its villain, aka Leatherface. We have seen a lot of terrifying and menacing villains over the years and it would be appropriate to say that Leatherface was undoubtedly the most frightening character of all time. There have been many versions of Leatherface and every one of them has its own personality. But not a lot of people know about how the character was created and how it has changed over the years.

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So, let’s dig a little deeper and get to know more about the character.

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A still from 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' (Raven Pictures/ IMDb)

Based on a true story

When the movie was released in 1974, a lot of people believed that Leatherface had some similarities with a serial killer. Although when you see the character for the first time, you’ll believe that it came straight out of a nightmare, it actually had a backstory attached to it. The character was inspired by a real-life person named Ed Gein, a serial killer who was also known as the Butcher of Plainfield.

According to reports, Gein’s mental health deteriorated after his mother’s death and lost his path. Several residents of Plainfield went missing over the years and Gein was found responsible for their deaths. Police also investigated his home and found some really disturbing things, including organs stored in jars and masks made of human skin.

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Why did he wear a mask?

One of the most key aspects of the character is the “mask”. There have been different explanations over the years and every movie in the franchise comes out with a unique perspective. However, the explanation is given in the original movie still stands out to be the most appropriate one and also, believable.

A still from 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' (IMDb)

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In the original version of the movie, Leatherface was born disfigured and had a skin disease. The world is always cruel to people who are different from them and that’s what happened with him as well. He was constantly mocked and bullied for his appearance. Initially, he didn’t do anything about it, but things were getting out of hand and there came a time when he was ashamed of himself. He hated the way he looked and decided to wear a small leather mask to hide his face.

The mask became an integral part of him and he never stopped wearing it in public.

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Changing of Masks

So, this is one of the most interesting aspects of the character. Leatherface is a stone-cold killer and doesn’t care about anything. However, he is still a human being and wants to convey his feelings or expressions as well. So, how does he do that? By changing masks. In the original ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’, the character chooses to switch between his different masks.

The explanation was actually given by the late Gunnar Hansen, the actor who played the character in the original movie. According to him, the masks were not just accessories, they were a means of communication for Leatherface. Basically, it was the only way that the character was able to express himself.

If you are a fan of the character then you will get another chance to see him on the screens again in Netflix’s version of ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’. The movie stars Sarah Yarkin, Elsie Fisher, Mark Burnham, Jacob Latimore, and Moe Dunford in pivotal roles. It also sees the return of Sally Hardesty (Olwen Fouere) to the franchise.

‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ will be premiering exclusively on Netflix on Friday, February 18.

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