Written by Shannon McGrew
Until recently, rumors had circulated that audiences and fans would never see the light of day to the anticipated “Leatherface” film, a prequel to the original “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre”, which promised to give us insight into how Leatherface came to be. Then on May 12th, the horror gods must have heard our cries, as producer Christa Campbell announced that “Leatherface” would be coming to theaters this October. With this exciting news at hand, we spoke with writer Seth Sherwood, who penned the screenplay for “Leatherface”, about how he came up with his concept and what fans can expect to learn about the origins of one of the most beloved slashers in the horror genre.
IH: Hi Seth, thank you so much for speaking with us today about “Leatherface.” To start things off, can you tell us a little bit about the film as well as how it relates to the “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” franchise?
SS: The Chainsaw franchise has always played loose with continuity and tone. I know some people are confused thinking there was already a prequel. Long story short – Platinum Dunes did a remake, and then later, came out with a prequel to their remake. What we’re doing is going back and making a prequel to the original film. The current “canon” continuity, chronologically, will be “Leatherface”, the original “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre”, and then “Texas Chainsaw 3D”.
That said – while there’s plenty of things for fans, one could also go into this blind as their first TCM film and effectively see the beginning of the story, which is about the Leatherface, his family, and what led to him having to wear a mask.
IH: What inspired you to write this prequel to the original “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre”? Have you always been a fan of this iconic series?
SS: It should be noted that I didn’t up and decide to write this, then try to get it made. It was something I pitched on. That said, as a huge fan of the original film, I jumped at the chance to pitch and did my best to cook something up that wasn’t the obvious take. I didn’t want to do the easy and obvious version of the story. I took my inspiration from interviews with Tobe Hooper and Gunnar Hansen, in which they described the psychology of Leatherface. His personality was blank – who he was defined by his mask, and what his family told him to do. I decided to ask WHY?
IH: Why was it important for you, and the overall story of Leatherface, to go back and show his life prior to when the massacre’s happened?
SS: It was too easy to just say he was born a deformed gibbering simp that killed people. That is a pretty limited story. I wanted to go much deeper than that. I wanted to know what would have to happen to a normal person to be reduced to that. Sure, he is born into a possibly inbred, cannibal family, but Drayton, Nubbins, Grandpa – they seem to know who they are. What makes Leatherface different?
I know a lot of people think that not knowing makes him scarier, and while I don’t disagree, I just really wanted to answer that question.
IH: “Leatherface” went through a series of delays, which I can only imagine was beyond frustrating. What does it feel like to know that the film will be seeing the light of day this October?
SS: I was just starting to think that maybe it wasn’t going to happen. And in a strange way, (probably to comfort myself) I started to romanticize the idea it became some legendary lost film. If it never came out, no one would actively hate it. It would be coveted – something spoken about, something people would try to contrive some way of seeing, something that would show up on a tired unused media at a convention in 50 years.
But now that it’s happening, I’m of course excited for people to finally see it… and of course there’s the anxiety of the inevitable hate that will come. A lot of fans hate the idea that the movie even exists and have already decided they know what I’ve written, and that it’s terrible. My new mantra is “don’t read the comments… don’t read reviews…”
IH: As a fan of the franchise, where would you like to see the legacy of Leatherface go from here?
SS: Personally, I think Leatherface has had the spotlight for a long time. He was the one with the chainsaw, so he took center stage. But honestly, the family is full of lovable weirdos, freaks, and sickos, any one of which could carry a movie. If the opportunity arose, I’d love to work Chop-Top into the current continuity. Who doesn’t love Chop-Top? I know I’m not the only person that would see a movie about Grandpa Sawyer. He started the family on their path, what was he like as a young man? In our “Leatherface” we have a character named Clarice, who while not part of the family, is one of my favorites and has a crazy backstory.
IH: Last, but certainly not least, what can fans of yours be on the look for from you in the future?
SS: I’ve got a lot in the works, most of which is hidden behind NDAs. There’s TV stuff, some web stuff, a comic book, but the next big thing will be “Hellfest”. It’s the story of a Halloween Horror Nights or Knott’s Scary Farm – a full on Halloween Haunt, a theme park, where amongst the hundreds of fake monsters and madman is a real killer. CBS Films is the studio, Gale Anne Hurd’s Valhalla Entertainment is producing, I’m writing it, and Greg Plotkin (director of “Paranormal Activity 5” and editor of “Get Out”) is directing. I took over writing duties for fellow Chainsaw alum Stephen Susco, and Jennifer Lynch helped develop the project. I’ve honestly never had so much fun on a project, it’s an awesome team and it’s going to be a super fun, super scary movie.
“Leatherface” is set to hit theaters this October, just in time for Halloween.