Although the 1974 classic The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was supposedly inspired by real occurrences, the truth is a bit murkier than fiction. Read on to find out if the Texas Chainsaw Massacre is based on actual events, but be aware that the details you are about to learn will likely be upsetting and even triggering to some readers.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre True Story
The film was promoted as a “true story,” however it was actually inspired by the actions of Wisconsin serial killer and “body snatcher” Ed Gein, also known as “the Butcher of Plainfield.”
There’s no doubt that the scene in Texas Chainsaw Massacre where one of the protagonists stumbles into a room full of furniture made of dead people and is then impaled on a meathook was inspired by Gein, who was notorious for exhuming bodies from graveyards and crafting keepsakes with their bones and skin.
After being convicted of the 1968 murder of hardware store owner Bernice Worden, Gein was committed to a mental institution due to his severe mental illness. Worden’s beheaded body was discovered in a shed, and during their search of Gein’s home, the sheriffs discovered other hideous artifacts, including masks, which are particularly important given that Leatherface wears a mask made of human skin in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Gein was also infatuated with his late mother; after she passed away, he kept her room in exquisite shape even while the rest of the home fell into disrepair. He supposedly desired to “get under her skin” physically. AH!
If you feel like you’ve heard these details before, it’s because Gein was the inspiration for more than just the Texas Chainsaw Massacre killer. Some of the backstories of the characters in films like Psycho’s Norman Bates and The Silence of the Lambs’ Buffalo Bill, and even American Horror Story’s Freddy Krueger, are based on his case. Patrick Bateman mentions him in American Psycho.
Kim Henkel, who wrote the screenplay for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, has admitted that he was “inspired” by serial killer Ed Gein.
I definitely studied Gein…but I also noticed a murder case in Houston at the time, a serial murderer you probably remember named Elmer Wayne Henley. He was a young man who recruited victims for an older homosexual man. I saw some news report where Elmer Wayne…said, ‘I did these crimes, and I’m gonna stand up and take it like a man.’ Well, that struck me as interesting, that he had this conventional morality at that point. He wanted it known that, now that he was caught, he would do the right thing. So this kind of moral schizophrenia is something I tried to build into the characters.
The horrific elements of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre are amplified by the revelation that the cannibal crew is an amalgam of numerous eerily creepy real-life males. So, good luck getting some shut-eye tonight. Bye!
Did the Family in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre Actually Exist?
The Sawyers, who engage in cannibalism and murder throughout The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, are fictional and have no basis in real life. However, like Leatherface, Norman Bates in Psycho was influenced by Gein’s strange obsession with his mother.
Is Ed Gein Still With Us Today?
No, Gein is dead, and that’s probably for the best for those of us who like to sleep soundly at night. Gein passed away at the Mendota Mental Health Institute in July of that year. Henley is still alive, but he will spend as much time as possible behind bars.
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