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Texas Chainsaw Massacre (A Lesson)

Joe Bob's Drive In Review
by Joe Bob Briggs
May 12, 1996

"Texas Chainsaw Massacre - A Lesson"

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Today's lesson is on "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." No matter how many times I've talked about this flick before, you guys still expect me to take time out from serious drive-in reviewing to go rehash all the "Saw" trivia just because you missed it the first time.

So now I'm gonna put all your questions in one place, and I want you to clip this sucker out and save it. I don't wanna have to tell you again. OK, here goes.

Did the story of "Chainsaw" really happen? Whenever I get asked this, I barely want to dignify it with a response.

    Of course it happened. There are two movies based on the same real-life event - Hitchcock's Psycho and "Saw," but "Psycho" gets all the publicity.

    Actually, "Saw" is a whole lot closer to the true story of Edward Gein, a handyman in Plainfield, Wis., who liked to dig up fresh graves, cut the skin off corpses, wear it on various parts of his own body and dance in the moonlight.

    When the guys in white suits finally got him in 1957, they said he'd been collecting body parts for years - had skulls on the bedposts, a human heart in a saucepan and a lady out in his barn dressed like a deer.

    Eddie died in the Central State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, where he was making rock jewelry.

When Tobe Hooper made "Saw," why did he locate it in Texas?
    Tobe was living in Austin, Texas, but he really didn't care where the movie was located. They only made it Texas when somebody come up with the title, which, you've got to admit, is one of the all-time greatest titles in the history of the universe.

    It was shot in Round Rock, Texas, for about 40 cents.

Where was "Saw" first shown to the public?
    The Empire Theatre, San Francisco, fall of '74. They sneaked it on the back end of a Walter Matthau picture, and the audience barfed, stormed the lobby, demanded their money back and started throwin' punches. A legend was born.
Is it true "Saw" has been banned more than any other movie in history?
    Naw, not really. "Deep Throat" has been sued a lot more times. But the difference with "Saw" is that it's the first R-rated flick ever to get over 20 continuous years of flack.

    When the National Organization of Bimbos or the Babtist Church wants to get on my case, they always say, "This guy is so sick he LIKES movies like 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre."'

    They use it like some kind of putdown, like they never saw it. (Or maybe I should say they never got sawed by it.)

Is it true that Leatherface - "Mr. Chainsaw" - never worked again?
    Gunnar Hansen, the actor who played Leatherface, moved up to Maine to write poetry and build rock houses. I'm not makin' this up. While he has popped up on screen occasionally (he made a brief appearance in the anthology film "Campfire Tales," for example), he never reprised his Leatherface role.
Is it true that the director had trouble getting work after "Saw"?
    Sort of. Tobe Hooper was just a boy from Austin who liked movies, and "Saw" was his first crack at making them.

    After that he made "Eaten Alive," also known as "Horror Hotel Massacre," where Neville Brand runs a little swamp motel where he feeds overnight guests to the alligators.

    Then Tobe made "Salem's Lot" for TV, and that was pretty decent. Then Spielberg let him make Poltergeist, but nobody could figure out whether Tobe was doing it or the Spielman.

    And then Tobe got back on track Lifeforce about nekkid outer-space bloodsuckers.

    Other post-"Saw" Hooper flicks include The Funhouse, "Spontaneous Combustion," "I'm Dangerous Tonight," Invaders From Mars and "Texas Chainsaw Massacre II."

Where did Sally, the only survivor in the movie, learn to scream like that?
    Marilyn Burns, "The Screamer," is truly acknowledged to be the finest motion-picture screamer known to mankind - far better than Jamie Lee Curtis and other imitators. But it might be because she had so much to scream about.

    When they were makin' this picture it was 110 degrees inside the Cannibal House, and all the meat on the table was dead rotting animals filled with formaldehyde.

    Considering the smell, plus all the sticky blood they poured on Marilyn, plus the fact that she got dragged around through the underbrush for a couple weeks and busted up both knees, you've got to figure those were real screams.

How successful is "Saw"?
    Nobody knows exactly, but it's estimated to have made at least $100 million at the box office.
Do you think current flicks are gettin' a lot scarier than "Saw," what with all the sophisticated special effects they have now?
    Nope. No way, Jose. You take somebody to see "Saw" who hasn't ever seen it before, and you'll know what I mean when I say: "'Saw' is still the king."
Joe Bob says - again and again - check it out.

You can write to Joe Bob Briggs, at P.O. Box 2002, Dallas, Texas 75221. You can also fax him at (213) 462-5982 or e-mail him at [this email may be out of date. Visit his current website below].

© 1996 Joe Bob Briggs All Rights Reserved

For more of Joe Bob's pre-TNT reviews in Grapevine, Texas, go to his Drive-In Reviews Archive over yonder at www.Joe Bob

"Texas Chainsaw Massacre" movies are available on video and on DVD from

According to Ripley's Believe It Or Not, the Lyrebird of Australia mimics the sound of other birds, dogs barking, and even revving chainsaws!

On to Joe Bob's movie reviews of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

For sequel-fu, Joe Bob prefers Return Of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

(click play button until video starts)

Bud Lite ad spoofing horror film setups

You loved them in SCTV, he was memorable in American Pie. Now...see Eugene Levy and Andrea Martin in the Canadian epic, CANNIBAL GIRLS (1973)

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Fun fact:
The remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre is still set in the year 1973, but the chainsaw used by Leatherface is a recent model Husqvarna not available back then.

Don't mess with Texas:
By Texas state law, it is illegal to attend church while in disguise. And in Mesquite, TX, it is illegal for people to have haircuts that are "startling or unusual." Somebody warn Mr. T.

Elvis has left the building, and he took Joe Bob with him.