HomeMoviesWhich Real-Life Incident Inspired Tobe Hooper's 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre'?

    Which Real-Life Incident Inspired Tobe Hooper’s ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’?

    Tobe Hooper’s ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ is a seminal work of horror. Haled as “a perfect movie” by Quentin Tarantino, ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ saw the excruciating drama unfold behind the scenes. Be it the agonizing shoot or Tobe Hooper pushing his actors, the film has inspired a generation of filmmakers and spawned endless slasher movies.

    Proving to be a game-changer for the slasher movie genre, Tobe Hooper became the new rising director in Hollywood. With such a scary degree of authenticity, people have often questioned how closely the art was similar to real life. Is the movie about real people? Is the deranged killer Leatherface drawing inspiration for someone? Follow the rest of the story to satisfy your curiosities.

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    Is ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre A True Story?

    Tobe Hooper Wanted To Make A Political Statement With ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’

    Co-written by Tobe Hooper and Kim Henekel, ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ follows a group of friends headed to rural Texas to visit the grave of a grandfather. On the way, they stumble across what appears to be a deserted house, only to discover something sinister within—something armed with a chainsaw.

    Although sold as a real story, this incident never occurred in the real world. The director Tobe Hooper was trying to make a political statement in an utterly chaotic time as he tried to lean on the socio-political paranoia for his masterpiece.

    Events like the Watergate and Vietnam War were permeating the filmmaking of the 1970s, further disillusioning the American public and artists alike. The television coverage of the changing landscape of American society was the ultimate creative force behind the movie.

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    Who Was The Inspiration Behind The ‘Leatherface’ Killer?

    (Left) Elmer Wayne and Ed Gein (Right) Inspired Leatherface

    The beginnings of Leatherface came from Tobe Hooper’s college days at the University of Texas at Austin. He worked there as an assistant director, later going on to work as a documentary cameraman during the late 1960s. He found the desensitized violence and the lack of graphic brutality an enraging experience.

    Along with Kim Henekel, he created a legitimate human terror, Leatherface. The chainsaw-wielding killer was also based on some dangerous convicted murderers. The crimes of Wisconsin murderer Ed Gein and confessions by serial killer Elmer Wayne partially inspired the character of Leatherface.

    Hooper was particularly intrigued by Ed Gein’s obsessive collection of human trophies, namely his accumulation of human flesh. Gein is said to have crafted masks out of masses of human flesh. Soon, this morbid fascination was written into Leatherface’s character to give him a sense of lived-in terror.

    The chainsaw came from the director’s shopping experience. While finding himself in a crowded supermarket, his eyes went to the shelf of saws. It made him think of how using the saw could reduce his waiting time. In this eureka moment, the entire story and characters came to him.

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    Shaurya Thakur
    Shaurya Thakur
    Shaurya Thakur is a Content Writer at First Curiosity, who, in his personal time, is writing the greatest "overcoming post-academic slump existential crises" story. His current obsessions are John Cassavetes and Jack Kerouac; musically, he belongs to Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand.

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