Over the years, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise has given fans of scary movies some of the best horror films and made Leatherface, an iconic masked serial killer, famous around the world. But the story behind Texas Chainsaw Massacre is darker than you might first think.
Even though Leatherface is a fictional character, you might want to lock your doors after hearing about the real-life murderer who inspired Leatherface. The first movie in the TCM series, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, was directed by Tobe Hooper.
It tells the story of Sally Hardesty and her brother, who are traveling with friends in Texas when they run out of gas and have to stop at a creepy-looking house in the middle of nowhere. In the style of a horror movie, it turns out that the scary house belongs to a family of cannibals who like to kill people cold-bloodedly.
One of these killers is Leatherface, a giant with a chainsaw and a mask made of human skin. As you might expect, a killing spree happens, but Sally gets away, much to the cannibal’s disappointment.
In a DVD interview from the past, Hooper said that the bloody movie was based on true events, like the horrors he read about in newspapers during the Vietnam War and America’s Serial Killer Phenomenon, which was all over the news and caught everyone’s attention.
For those who don’t know, the term “Serial Killer Phenomenon” refers to the “golden age of serial murder” in the United States from the 1970s to 2000, when the number of serial killers who were actually killing people was on the rise.
Hooper did research because of all the bad things that happened and people who died. Ed Gein, a serial killer, caught his attention and became the model for Leatherface.
Bernice Worden, who owned a hardware store in Wisconsin and went missing in 1957, brought the real story of Ed Gein to the public’s attention. Newspapers from the 1950s say that all that was left in her store was an empty cash register and some bloodstains.
With the help of a receipt, the police found Ed Gein, who became known as the “Plainfield Ghoul” and shocked the whole country. Readers with weak hearts should know that things are going to get worse from here on out.
When the police searched his house, they found Worden’s body and a few other disturbing things that no doubt inspired Hooper’s brutal movie. Some of the terrible things that were found were furniture made from human skin, bowls made from human skulls, and clothes made from the bodies of his victims.
Even though the real Ed Gein wasn’t like Leatherface in that he didn’t always wear his victims’ faces as masks, it’s clear that Leatherface and Gein have a lot in common, including the fact that they both liked to literally wear their victims’ faces.
But we wouldn’t be doing our job as horror fans if we didn’t point out a few more “facts” in the movie that can’t be linked to the real killer. First of all, Ed Gein never used a chainsaw. Hooper thought of that weapon while he was in a hardware store.
Gein did his bad things with a gun instead. He also didn’t eat all of his victims like Leatherface, who, as we all know, is a cannibal who likes head cheese. So don’t think that Leatherface is a direct copy of the famous serial killer.
Also, it’s important to remember that Gein wasn’t the only serial killer that Leatherface was based on. In an interview with Texas Monthly in 2004, co-writer Kim Henkel made it clear that serial killer Elmer Wayne Henley from the 1970s was another source of inspiration for the movie.
Henley didn’t make Leatherface happen, but he did shape the other cannibalistic family members’ personalities. Their lack of empathy and humanity made the Texas Chainsaw Massacre even scarier. So Gein can’t be blamed for all of our nightmares. He can only be blamed for most of them.
In the end, Ed Gein wasn’t free to kill again either, unlike Leatherface, who has been able to stay out of trouble for more than 50 years with his series of bloody movies. Gein was caught, and in 1957 he was told he had schizophrenia.
After being tried in 1968, he was sent to the Central State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Gein died at the Mendota Mental Health Institute in 1984, when he was 77 years old. But his crimes would be remembered in Hollywood for years to come.
Besides Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Ed Gein has also been the basis for many other scary movies. He created characters like Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and Buffalo Bill in the Academy Award-winning thriller Silence of the Lambs.
But his scary legacy in the long-running movie series “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is what makes him stand out.
This true story about a crazy man is sad, but it also led to the creation of Leatherface, who is one of the most famous killers in the horror genre, along with Michael Myers from Halloween and Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th.
The last time we saw Leatherface was in the 2022 movie Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which is now on Netflix.