The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, directed by Tobe Hooper in 1974, is one of cinema’s earliest horror masterpieces and a must-see for every fan of the genre. Given how stomach-churning many of the images in the violent slasher are, it’s difficult to believe the film’s plot is based on truth. So is this massacre based on a true story? Is Leatherface real?
While Leatherface remains a fictitious character, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is based on terrifying true events. Hooper’s inspiration for the Texas Chainsaw Massacre originated in the early 1970s when he was directly influenced by much of the violence covered by different San Antonio news agencies.
Although the persona of Leatherface and some narrative aspects were inspired by killer Ed Gein’s actions, the film’s premise is mostly fictitious. As an enthusiast fact-checker and a huge fan of the works of Leatherface, stick around as I explain the stories of the truth behind the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Is Texas Chainsaw Massacre a Real Story?
Although The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is ostensibly a work of fiction, the film is unmistakably based on a true story about a serial killer. While the film was billed as a “true narrative,” it was more accurately inspired by the real-life atrocities of Wisconsin-based serial killer and “body snatcher” Ed Gein—a.k.a. “the Butcher of Plainfield.”
Director Hooper desired the fabricated material to address cultural and political debates about the government’s deception of the general people throughout the 1970s. Despite the film’s suggestion that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a real narrative and the events truly occurred, the film, like most legends, has kernels of truth.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was conceptualized in response to the terrible actual crimes that emerged in postwar America alongside the advent of sensationalist, national news cycles.
Hooper recounts watching the arrest and horrifying deeds of convicted serial murderer Elmer Wayne Henley splashed across San Antonio television screens, which served as inspiration for the insane family featured in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Geil collected body pieces as keepsakes (and subsequently returned the remainder of the corpse to the grave), which led to his experimentation with necrophilia and human taxidermy.
As with Leatherface, he moved into a run-down house that he crammed with his heinous “trophies.” In contrast to the film’s killer, Gein wore his victims’ skins for reasons other than a disfiguring skin condition.
To satiate his yearning to be a woman, he began tanning the skins of the bodies he dug up to create corsets, leggings, belts fashioned from female nipples, and masks to create a “woman suit” and become his mother. He apparently wore a vest of female skin over his own, replete with connected breasts and female genitalia.
While Leatherface is seen throughout the film using a chainsaw, Gein shoots each of his victims with a handgun. Thus, the cannibal crew in Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a composite of several frightening real-life guys, which undoubtedly adds to the film’s terror.
The pervasive impression that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a true narrative contributed to the film’s unequivocal success, as did the utilization of true crime instances, which resulted in the formation of an iconic, vociferously popular horror franchise spanning five decades.
When Did Texas Chainsaw Massacre Happen in Real Life?
The real-life murderer Ed Gein is suspected to have taken several victims between 1954 and 1957.
Where Did the Texas Chainsaw Massacre Take Place in Real Life?
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre occurred in Plainfield, Wisconsin. Gein’s house and 195-acre land were evaluated for $4,700 (which equates to $42,000 in 2021). His belongings were due to be auctioned on March 30, 1958, amid speculation that the home and property on which it resided might become a tourist attraction.
The home was destroyed by fire early on March 20. A deputy fire marshal reported that a rubbish fire was started 75 feet from the home by a cleaning team assigned to dispose of refuse, that hot coals were collected from the area of the bonfire, but that the fire did not spread along the ground to the house.
Although arson was suspected, the cause of the fire was never determined. It is probable that fire chief Frank Worden, the son of Bernice Worden, Gein’s final victim, did not view the fire as an emergency.
Was Leatherface a Real Person?
Leatherface is a fictitious character in the film adaptation of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. He is, however, represented as Ed Gain, a real person.
Ed, dubbed the “Plainfield Ghoul,” had a habit of dressing in women’s clothing and mutilating corpses, eerily like the ultimate form of Leatherface’s persona. Additionally, Gein unearthed bodies from nearby cemeteries, fashioned trophies, and mementos from their bones and skin, and confessed to the murder of at least two women.
Ed Gein was one of George and Augusta Gein’s two sons. George, Ed’s father, was a hardworking farmer. His mother was obnoxious. Ed was born in 1906, five years before his brother Henry. George had a drinking problem and died in 1940.
Augusta was a devout Christian who was very protective of her two kids. She kept the boys occupied with agricultural labor and prevented them from interacting with ladies. Henry died in 1944, leaving Ed and their mother to fend for themselves. According to others, Ed killed Henry to avoid having to share his mother’s affection.
Augusta suffered a stroke shortly thereafter, and a second one killed her in 1945. Ed was left to his own devices on the family farm. However, instead of farming, Ed enlisted in the federal government’s soil conservation program. He partitioned off sections of the farm home, including his mother’s chamber.
What occurred next would cement Ed’s reputation as one of the most infamous serial killers in American history. He began reading medical periodicals. Ed Gein had a strong interest in female anatomy, to the point that he began plundering a nearby cemetery of female bodies.
Gein was well-known for exhuming bodies and creating souvenirs from their bones and skin, which undoubtedly inspired the scene in Texas Chainsaw Massacre in which one of the protagonists wanders into a room filled with dead people’s furniture and is impaled with a meathook.
Leatherface, like Gein, who inspired Norman Bates in Psycho, has a predilection for donning women’s clothing and mutilating victims, as well as a low IQ, which mirrors Gein’s. Thus, Leatherface’s use of other people’s flesh is intended to lend mystery to a faceless killer while simultaneously emulating the horrible acts of a known serial killer.
Did They Ever Catch the Texas Chainsaw Massacre Guy?
Ed Gain, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre guy, was apprehended on November 16, 1957. He was apprehended at a West Plainfield grocery shop, and the Gein property was searched by the Waushara County Sheriff’s Department.
Gein came to the notice of the authorities in 1957, when Bernice Worden, the proprietor of a hardware shop, went missing. That night, authorities discovered her corpse hanging in the shed behind Ed’s house. She had been shot and beheaded fatally. Ed had “dressed” her in the manner in which a hunter would dress a deer.
Gein was spotted with her soon before she vanished, and when law enforcement officers paid a visit to his farm, they discovered her dead. Subsequent inspections of his residence revealed that he had routinely plundered cemeteries and collected body parts for use in crafting household goods, clothes, and masks.
Additionally, the head of Mary Hogan, a tavern keeper who vanished in 1954, was recovered on the site. Gein acknowledged murdering the two ladies — both of whom resembled his mother — but pleaded not guilty due to insanity.
Gein was deemed mentally incompetent to face trial and sent to a Wisconsin state hospital. His property drew thousands of curious visitors until it was destroyed by fire in 1958, most likely perpetrated by an arsonist.
Gein was declared mentally competent to stand trial in 1968, but a court finally ruled him guilty because of insanity, and he spent the remainder of his days in a state hospital.
Is the Real Leatherface Still Alive?
Ed Gein, the portrayed Leatherface, died with cancer-related problems on July 26, 1984, at the age of 77, in a Wisconsin jail.
Gein died in Goodland Hall at the Mendota Mental Health Institute of respiratory and cardiac failure caused by cancer. His tomb in the Plainfield cemetery has been damaged several times over the years; souvenir hunters chipped away at sections of his monument until the majority of it was taken in 2000.
The tombstone was discovered near Seattle in June 2001 and is now housed at a museum in Waushara County.
Who Survived the Texas Chainsaw Massacre in Real Life?
There was no Ed Gain identified survivors. Ed was convicted of two murders and countless cases of grave robbery. But there were 5 missing person cases at the same time, although this could not be pinned on him due to insufficient evidence. Every person who was a target to Ed got killed by him.
Can You Visit the Real Texas Chainsaw Massacre House?
The home featured in the original classic horror film is located in Kingsland and is available for public exploration. Grand Central Café is its name. This modest diner is situated in the original facility in which Marilyn Burns, Edwin Neal, and Gunnar Hansen spent a terrible summer of 1973 creating motion picture history.
The Texas Chainsaw House is located on the grounds of The Antlers Hotel in Kingsland, Texas. This early 1900s Victorian mansion was extensively featured in the 1974 film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre as the home of Leatherface and his cannibalistic family, before being relocated from Williamson County to this site in 1998.
Perhaps the most recognizable similarity is the film’s house, whose gruesome content was similar to that found in Ed Gein’s home in 1957.
This house—the Hewitt House—was utilized in the 2003 remake directed by Michael Bay. As a result, while its history is intriguing, its pop-culture significance is questionable. Additionally, you may dine and sleep at Bastrop’s original Texas Chainsaw Massacre petrol station.
Can You Stay at the Texas Chainsaw Massacre House?
You may stay at the genuine ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ home and have a sleepover. Among the most memorable moments were on May 5th and 6th, when On Set Cinema sponsored a sleepover in Kingsland, TX, where fans were allowed to stay in the original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” house.
Leatherface’s former residence was turned into Grand Central Cafe, a charming hamlet serving breakfast, lunch, and supper.