In 1974 Tobe Hooper’s horror masterpiece The Texas Chainsaw Massacre began its decades-long assault on film goers, and while this film was advertised to be based on a true story it’s important to know it’s completely fictional. Everything about the film, especially the character Leatherface, is totally made up. While the film is loosely based off the crimes of multiple killers (including killer Ed Gein) the movie's villian has little in common with any one particular person.
According to Gunnar Hansen, the actor who portrayed Leatherface in two of the films in the series, some people weren’t ever able to wrap their heads around the fact that a work of fiction would be marketed as a true story. In fact, in his book about the filming of the first Chainsaw movie, Chainsaw Confidential, he notes in the early 2000s he and many horror historians had begun to receive emails from people who believed that Leatherface was a real person, and that they knew actual victims of the Sawyer/Hewitt clan.
Many of the theories surround the existence of a real Leatherface and of a secret history behind The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, are basically modern campfire tails that have been told so many times they’ve taken on a new life. Some people have heard variations of the Leatherface story so many times that it has to be real, doesn’t it? Other theories seem to disregard the idea that cinema plays with the concept of reality and a lot of hard work goes into creating a film that plays with what’s real and what’s fiction. Continue reading to learn more about the very frustrating and completely inaccurate theories about the backstory of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Leatherface Went To Jail
One of the big, extremely incorrect theories people believe about the "real" Leatherface is that he ended up in prison after the incident that inspired the film. The rumors got so bad the Texas Prison Museum dedicated a page on its website to squash stories of a mentally handicapped, chainsaw wielding cannibal being interred in their prison system. There are probably plenty of guys nicknamed "Leatherface" in the prison system, but none of them are the skin wearing monster from the film.
The Police Footage From The End Of The Remake Showed The Real Leatherface
As a commenter on one of the many message boards on the Internet says: "[I]n the TCM remake, they had footage at the beginning and at the end of two policemen going into the crime scene to do a recorded walk through. The scene wasn't properly secured and the both were killed by Thomas Brown Hewitt aka Leatherface. The voiceover explains that this is the only known footage of 'the man called Leatherface.' I was wondering if the footage was genuine, a reenactment or what? It was freaky, though."
But here's the thing, that's just footage made for a movie edited to look like home video footage. It's not real. To be fair to dummies on the Internet, this isn't the first time people have been fooled by footage that seems real. After the release of Cannibal Holocaust so many people believed Ruggero Deodato actually filmed a bunch of people dying and he was put on trial to prove that he wasn't a murderer.
Leatherface Moved To Alabama
The Alabama Chainsaw Massacre does have a nice ring to it, but unfortunately it's not a thing that ever happened. It's not unheard of for a film's mythology to branch off into its own urban legend, but the idea of a cannibalistic man-child traveling the 700 miles to Alabama to start a new life is unfathomable. But this internet user seems to think that's exactly what happened: "He is still alive I have searched as much as I possibly could and I have seen video of him hurting cops and sightings of him in Alabama I used to live there he was forced to do what he did by his father aka the sheriff its kind of creepy huh he could live down the street from you."
No he couldn't, because he's not real.
The Film Was Inspired By Robert Elmer Kleason
One theory that's a bit closer to reality is that the original film is based on Robert Elmer Kleason, a man who lived in Texas and chopped up two young Mormon men with a bandsaw in October 1974. While that sounds like a totally plausible backstory for the inspiration for the film, it's not what happened. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was released in the same month Kleason chopped up his victims, and it was filmed in the summer of 1973, which means unless time travel was involved, Toby Hooper couldn't have been inspired by Kleason's gruesome actions.