Chain Saw Confidential: How We Made the World’s Most Notorious Horror Movie
By Gunnar Hansen
Chronicle Books – 2013
ISBN: 9781452114491$24.95, 240 pages
The true story of how The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was made is told by the six-foot four poet, who played “Leatherface”, Gunnar Hansen.
Hansen has the distinct position of not only being behind the mask of one of the most feared horror icons in history, but he’s gathered information from conversations he’s had over the years with cast and crew. This is a man who knows intimate knowledge about what actually transpired and how the movie was put together from the get go.
Over the course of this book, Hansen disproves falseness about the production and uncovers new information I had not heard or seen anywhere previously.
The fact is The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (TCM) was a trailblazing classic that changed the face of horror forever. The genre had already been shifting from monsters and vampires to more realistic human terror. Chain Saw drove its relentless teeth into the public without remorse.
I remember the first time I saw TCM; it was in the early 80s on VHS with my girlfriend at the time. It made us both uncomfortable. I didn’t feel closure because the film leaves you beat down without resolution. I felt dirty, which is a tribute to the late Robert Burn’s inventive production design and Daniel Pearl’s 16mm grainy photography of the heat soaked Texas landscape. But the performances from the actors, many who were young and inexperienced and Tobe Hooper’s direction made it all seem so real. I give everyone involved considerable credit for pulling off the quality on screen and their endurance of surviving the arduous shoot.
Chain Saw Confidential reads quicker than Marilyn Burns running from the cannibalistic family chasing her in the movie. My only complaint is that I wish it was longer, but Hansen does tell the story in its entirety.
One of the things most fascinating about Gunnar Hansen’s keen observation about the movie is how he approaches it from middle ground. He takes a stance trying to look at the movie without prejudice and by including negative reviews and comments to balance both sides of the critical weight scale.
I also think Hansen’s unromantic view about the production and his character in particular, weeds out the fluff usually associated and gives him more clout.
You should go out of your way to get a copy of Chain Saw Confidential: How We Made the World’s Most Notorious Horror Movie, so you can discover how this landmark film was constructed and the truth behind it.