It’s been just under 40 years since we got our first glimpse at Leatherface, the hulking brute who shocked the world in 1974’s Texas Chain Saw Massacre and instantly became one of the most feared and iconic villains in the annals of horror history. Wearing a mask made from human flesh and wielding a chainsaw that he wasn’t afraid to use, Leatherface is still to this day as terrifying as he ever was, and no depiction of the character in the subsequent six installments of the franchise has ever been as powerful or as frightening as that first incarnation of the monster.
Under the dead skin mask in 1974 was Gunnar Hansen, a mild mannered man who was born in Iceland and had at that time never appeared in a film. Before he auditioned for the role, Hansen had been a computer operator, a football player and a bouncer, and it was that decision to try out for Tobe Hooper’s little movie that launched Hansen’s career as an actor and cemented his status as a horror icon. 40 years later, Hansen has appeared in nearly 30 horror films and has been a fan favorite guest on the horror convention scene for the past couple decades, a guy who seems to get great pleasure out of relating stories to fans about his experiences on the set of one of the most iconic horror films of all time.
Something you might not know about Gunnar Hansen is that he wields a pen as well as he does a chainsaw, and he has over the years written several books on history, travel and poetry. It was shortly after the filming of Texas Chain Saw Massacre that Hansen took a lengthy hiatus from acting to focus his time and energy on his passion for writing, a passion that he recently decided to blend with the movie that made him famous.
In what can only be considered a natural progression of his career, and his life, Hansen wrote a book about the making of the classic film, a 240 page tome titled Chain Saw Confidential: How We Made The World’s Most Notorious Horror Movie. Though Hansen has for decades been sharing his behind the scene stories about the movie, at both conventions and on DVD commentary tracks, this marks the first time he’s ever completely opened up and shared the entire story with fans, and the book is set to cover not just the making of the movie but also its release, reception and lasting impact, all told from the point of view of the man who lived through it all. In an effort to make the book the most complete behind the scenes account of the film as possible, Hansen also interviewed many of his fellow cast and crew members, lengthy interviews that left him with over 100,000 words of transcribed text.
Needless to say, Chain Saw Confidential is set to be a must read for all fans of the film, a book that digs deeper than ever before into one of the most mad, macabre and game changing horror films ever made. “If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to work on Texas Chain Saw Massacre, this may be as close as you’ll get,” said Hansen’s fellow horror actor Doug “Pinhead” Bradley!
Chain Saw Confidential will be released on September 24th, from Chronicle Books, and you can pre-order your copy today, over on Amazon. The 240 book hardcover book also includes a 16 page full-color photo insert.
What you see above is the unfolded alternate cover for the book that is exclusively available through London 1888. The art by Christopher Ott is exclusive to the Mad Monster Party Gras convention, running September 13th-15th in New Orleans, and 125 copies of the book, with this jacket, will be available at the show. 25 additional copies can be purchased through , if you can’t make it to the event. So head over there to place your order, which can be picked up in New Orleans or shipped directly to your home!
I leave you with a couple random fun facts about the making of Texas Chain Saw Massacre that Gunnar Hansen has relayed over the years!
– Hansen came up with the idea that Leatherface was mentally retarded and never learned to talk properly, and so he visited a school for the mentally challenged before filming, as part of his research. He observed how they moved and talked, which helped him get a feel for the character.
– Since the budget was so low on the movie, there were no duplicates available of Leatherface’s outfit. Hansen had to wear the same outfit for four straight weeks in the hot Texas sun, and by the end of the shoot, he smelled so bad that none of the other cast and crew members wanted to go near him. Many a lonely lunch was eaten by Hansen, as a result!
– During the filming of the iconic dinner scene at the end of the movie, when Leatherface cuts Sally’s finger with a knife, a blood tube was rigged up to pull off the effect. Exhausted and unable to properly work it, Hansen got fed up after so many takes that he actually cut Marilyn Burns’ finger for real, which is the take that ended up being used in the film.
You will find many more facts where these came from inside the pages of Chain Saw Confidential, so be sure to pick it up!