Behind The Scenes Saturday: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

Welcome back to Behind The Scenes Saturday! Today’s post is all about The Texas Chain Saw Massacre! I’ve seen this film so many times, I started to make it a game. My family is not too big on horror, so whenever they left the room, I would play The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and see how long it took for them to notice. It was really funny! Enjoy!

(Trivia provided by IMDb.com)

(Pictures provided my google.com and IMDb.com)

(WARNING: PICTURES MAY BE GRAPHIC!)

(SPOILER ALERT!!!)

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  • While being chased around the woods by Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen), Marilyn Burns (Sally) actually cut herself on the branches. She cut herself so badly, that a lot of the blood on her body and clothes were real.
  • John Larroquette, the film’s narrator, was paid for his work with a single marijuana joint.
  • The film’s director, Tobe Hooper gave Gunnar Hansen permission to portray Leatherface as he saw fit. Hansen was the one who decided Leatherface would be mentally handicapped. He wanted to play the role in the most accurate – yet not offensive – way, so he went to a school for the mentally handicapped and studied how they moved and talked.

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  • While Christmas shopping, Tobe Hooper was stuck in a crowded store. While thinking about a way to get through the crowd, he spotted the chainsaws. This was how he came up with the idea for The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
  • The film has little to no blood because Tobe Hooper was hoping to get a PG rating for it. So, he wanted a lot of the horror implied off-screen and leave it to the imagination. However, his changes actually made the film more horrifying and he got the film an X rating. After lots of editing and repeated submissions, he gave up when the film was finally given an R rating.
  • While chasing Marilyn Burns, Gunnar Hansen could actually run faster than her. To constantly stay behind her, Hansen had to do random things while she got her head start. In one part, you can see him slicing up tree branches in the background.

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  • Paul A. Partain (Franklin) was a method actor, and he stayed in character even when the cameras weren’t rolling. Because of this, he and Gunnar didn’t get along on set. Hansen didn’t realize Partain was in character the whole time and he just figured Partain was annoying. When he met Partain again years later, they ended up being good friends until Partain’s death.
  • For the scene where Sally jumps out of a window, a stunt double was used. Ironically, Marilyn Burns ended up hurting herself filming her landing.
  • Because of the film’s budget, Gunnar Hansen only wore one shirt while playing Leatherface. The shirt couldn’t be washed because it was dyed. Not only did Hansen have to wear the shirt for 4 weeks straight, they had to film in very hot and humid Texas weather. By the end of shooting, his clothes smelled so bad, no one could stand near him or eat around him.

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  • Gunnar Hansen initially turned down the role of Leatherface because he didn’t like the sheer brutality of the plot. However, Marilyn Burns, who was friends with Hansen at the time, convinced him to be a part of the film.
  • Gunnar Hansen had to wear 3-inch heels to appear taller than the rest of the cast. The added height forced him to duck under the doorways in the slaughterhouse. He ended up hitting his head multiple times because of the heels AND his mask limited his vision.
  • The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was the movie set from Hell (due to the temperature in Texas at the time, this statement isn’t that far off). While filming the dinner scene, the 110 degree weather rotted the food on the table to health-threatening levels. The cast also experienced “sanity slippage” while filming. During the film’s commentary, Gunnar Hansen recalled how he was so into character, that he genuinely wanted to kill Marilyn Burns for a minute after being ordered by his on-screen brother. Edwin Neal (Hitchhiker) stated that making the film was more miserable than when he served in Vietnam. He also said that he “might kill Tobe Hooper” if he ever saw him again.

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  • Leatherface’s teeth were actually prostheses made by Gunnar Hansen’s dentist.
  • Though it’s rumored that the film was based on a true story, it’s since been debunked. All of it is fictional, other than Leatherface being LOOSELY based on infamous killer, Ed Gein.
  • Jim Siedow (Old Man) plays Leatherface’s brother. Funny enough, he was 20 years older than John Dugan, who played their Grandpa.

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  • After the film, Texas State troopers thanked Edwin Neal and shook his hand. His performance caused crime to drop 18%. After seeing the film, audiences were a lot more alert on the dangers of hitchhikers.
  • While preparing one of the props, crew member Dorothy J. Pearl accidentally injected herself in the leg with formaldehyde.
  • Due to the heat, a lot of the animal carcasses emitted an unbearable smell during the dinner scene. Many of the actors admitted that they would go outside, vomit, compose themselves, go back in, and finish the scene.

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  • Each time after filming, Marilyn Burns would take the clothes she wore in the film and wash them. One time, when she went to pick up her clothes, she realized Sally’s shirt and a few copies were stolen! She went to the store to get a new shirt, but they only had one left, and it was one size bigger. She didn’t have a choice so she bought it and it’s the shirt that she wears for most of the film.
  • At one point, the working titles for the film were Stalking Leatherface and Head Cheese.
  • Ed Guinn (Cattle Truck Driver) said that he took his role very seriously, and he went in with an “all work and no play” mindset. While filming the scene where he runs over the hitchhiker, he was so nervous that he forgot to stop in time for the filmmakers to set up the dummy prop in front of the truck, and he almost hit a real person.

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  • During the part where Leatherface cuts Sally’s finger, the fake blood wouldn’t come out of the tube behind the blade. After a few failed attempts, Gunnar Hansen got frustrated and removed the tube. Marilyn Burns moved her finger so the blade would actually cut her. So the cut we see in the film was real.
  • For the final scene where Sally escapes from Leatherface, Hooper told Hansen to look frustrated. Hansen figured simply stomping his feet in anger wouldn’t be enough. He started swinging his chainsaw and spinning around. He also did this to scare Hooper, and he considered it payback for how Hooper treated the cast during filming.
  • To successfully film the scene where Leatherface cuts his leg with the chainsaw, Gunnar Hansen wore a metal plate over his leg, and covered the plate with meat and a blood bag. However, when the saw hit the plate, the friction caused the plate to heat up and actually burn Hansen’s leg. So, Leatherface’s scream was genuine.

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  • While shooting Pam’s (Teri McMinn) death scene, Teri was held up by a nylon cord between her legs. Her legs were padded with Maxi-Pads, but even with padding, she was still in pain. However, she used the pain to her advantage and used it to make her performance more believable.
  • To this day, Teri McMinn believes that Pam escaped from the freezer and made it out alive. She believes that Pam was a fighter and she would’ve figured out how to escape.
  • Franklin created unintentional foreshadowing when talking about how cattle would convulse and twitch after getting hit in the head with a sledgehammer. It’s exactly what happens to Kirk (William Vail) when Leatherface hits him in the head with the sledgehammer.

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