Things You May Not Know About ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’
As 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' takes place on August 18th, today's a perfect excuse to look at some facts you may not know about the horror classic.
Considered one of the best horror movies of all time and a film you must see before you die, the creation of 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' is as compelling of a story as the movie itself. And as the movie takes place on August 18th, that seems like good enough reason to bring up some things you may not know about one of the scariest movies ever.
- The original intention was to make a PG film, allowing for wide release and appeal. To accomplish this, Tobe Hooper minimized the profanity in the script and kept the graphic horror to implied off-screen, relying heavily on atmosphere and tone to create the creepy feel for the film. That worked too well for Hooper as the original cut of the movie, though limited on profanity and gore, received an 'X' rating from the MPAA, with Hooper eventually cutting it down to an 'R' rating.
- Due to the extremely limited budget, John Larroquette claims his payment for providing the opening narration was a single marijuana joint.
- Speaking of John Larroquette, he also claimed in a 2008 interview that he had never seen the movie.
- The limited budget also indirectly resulted in cast and crew keeping their distance from Gunnar Hansen. For his role as Leatherface, Hansen had one shirt that he had to wear each day during the four week filming in a hot Texas summer. Since the shirt had to be dyed for the movie and was the only one the production had, it was never washed as to make sure the dye didn't wash out. By the end of filming, much of the cast and crew would stay away from Hansen because of the smell of the shirt.
- The most difficult scene to film was the iconic dinner scene. The time and process taken to get John Dugan into make up for his role as the Grandfather was so bad that Dugan refused to go through it again, resulting in the crew needing to film all of Grandfather's scenes in a single, nearly-30-hour block. During this time, the heat and on-set stress hit their peak filming the dinner scene. With 100+ degree temperatures outside, and no air conditioning or fans in the house where they were filming, the food on the table quickly began to rot. Due to the long hours filming, the combination of smells with the rotting food and body odor, and the extreme heat on set, the cast reportedly had moments where their sanity began to legitimately break. Edwin Neal, who played the hitchhiker, said filming the dinner scene was worse than his time in the Vietnam War.
- It was Gunnar Hansen's idea for Leatherface to be portrayed as mentally handicapped. To prepare for the role, Hansen went to a school for mentally handicapped people to observe how they spoke and moved as Hansen and Hooper wanted the portrayal to be accurate and non-offensive.
- Edwin Neal says he has been personally thanked by Texas law enforcement for his role as the hitchhiker and credited for an 18% drop in crime in the state as people were terrified of picking up hitchhikers after seeing his performance.
- Injuries were a common occurrence on the set. Marilyn Burns' finger was actually cut during the dinner scene, she was cut up by undergrowth during the chase scene (much of the blood on her and her clothes was real), and she hurt herself while filming her landing after her character jumps through a window to escape the Sawyers. A stuntman was also injured filming the scene where the saw hits Leatherface's leg. There was a blood-pack, meat, and a metal plate between his leg and the chainsaw, but the friction caused the plate to heat up, burning his leg. The screams recorded during that scene were legitimate.