Texas Chain Saw Massacre really is a movie of legends. For a low-budget film made by a bunch of youngsters, with more hardships than one could ever imagine, resulting in a truly classic horror film that is astounding that the product was ever even finished. Because of its huge following, over the years there has been several documentaries, pages and pages of retrospectives and articles written about it, with each and every one expanding the legacy that it has so rightly deserved. And I have seen most of those and read quite a lot about this film. I’ve also seen the film more times than I could count. So do we really need another book on the making of this film?
Yes. Yes, we do. But this isn’t just a book about this notorious film. This is a book written by the man who was right there in the middle of it all. In the 120 degree Texas heat. At the dinner scene with the rotting meat and real animal props, baking under the lights. That’s right, Leatherface himself, Gunnar Hansen.
I went through this book as fast as a chainsaw through a man sitting in a wheelchair. Okay, maybe not that fast, but close. Hansen gives us a play-by-play of his experiences in making this cult film, with what he had to go through for each scene he had to deal with in the film. But this isn’t just his story, but the others that worked on the film as well. Since we also know that memory can become fuzzy, especially when remembering about a film that was make 40 years ago, so Hansen had talked to and interviewed the other cast and crew members as well, even giving us different sides of the story. He gives us a deep and personal look at what these kids went through to get this film made. Now, I’ve read a lot of stories on low-budget film making, but I have never read ones like I did in this book. It really is amazing that not only that this film was ever finished and released, but even more on how freaking good it is.
There are stories upon stories here, like how the director was manipulating the cast to develop basically a hatred for each other, just to bring out a better and more realistic performance in them. Or how Hansen had to use a live saw to cut a mere inches from an actor’s head, just to make it look real. Out of all the actors that went through hell making this film, Hansen doesn’t try to take the spotlight on this, but really shows just how hard Marilyn Burns had it making this film and the fact that she didn’t completely go nuts after it was finally finished is just mind-blowing.
If you are a fan of this movie, which you probably are, you need to read this book. If you’ve seen the picture enough times, which each story Hansen tells, you’ll know exactly the scene he is talking about, the exact moment or movement he refers to. And if not, you’ll be tempted to break out your copy of the movie and watch it again. Trust me, even if you think you are tired of hearing about this movie after all this time, you will still be not only entertained by this book, but humbled. So much so that the next time you see Hansen, Edwin Neal, or any of the other remaining cast and crew of the film, you can’t help but give them a little more respect for achieving what they did 40+ years ago.