16 Oct The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Most Famous Crime That Was Never Committed
No haunted house attraction would be complete without at least one chainsaw-weilding madman, and Thrillvania Haunted House Park is no exception. We take great pride in our ability to scare you to death without actually sawing off any of your limbs. But where did the chainsaw/madman idea originally come from? From “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” of course. The most infamous crime in Texas that never actually occurred.
In 1974 the movie “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” splattered onto movie screens across the country and quickly knocked “The Exorcist” out of its number one spot. And no wonder. Promoters took advantage of movie-goer’s love of true-crime stories and used the following message to lure the audience in:
The film is an account of a tragedy which befell a group of five youths, in particular Sally Hardesty. For them and idyllic summer afternoon drive became a nightmare when they were exposed to an insane and macabre family of chain saw killers. One by one they disappear to be brutallyt butchered, each murder more horrendous than the last the surviving member of the group making a frantic bid for escape in the horrific climax. This video cassette is based on a true incident and is definitely not for the squeamish or the nervous.”
But did “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” really happen? Sort of. But not quite.
The film does make a connection with the crimes of Ed Gein. However, Gein lived in Wisconsin and he operated alone. And, while Gein was convicted of murdering two women, most of his crimes had to do with the fact that he stole corpses from the local cemetery. He did, however, use bones from those corpses to make freakish end tables and a headboard for his bead and he did use their skin to craft aprons and masks – just like Leatherface did in the movie.
But Gein never used a chainsaw to dismember his victims which leads us back to our original question: Where did the chainsaw weilding madman idea originate?
Director Tobe Hooper says he got the inspiration while staning in line at a Montgomery Ward’s. The store was crowded with holiday shoppers and Hooper found himself musing about a script he was working on, a script about isolation, the woods, the darkness and the unknown. Unnerved by the huge crowd around him, Hooper noticed a large display of chainsaws and thought, “Ooh, I know how I could get out of this place fast – if I just start one of these things up and make that sound.”
And that’s how the idea for a chainsaw weilding madman came about. Ironically, Hooper said he constantly ran into people who told him they remembered when the crime was reported in the paper and they’d actually met or knew Leatherface. But the crime never really happened, and the crime it was loosely based on actually happened in Wisconsin and didn’t involve a chainsaw at all.
But it makes for a heckuva good scare, doesn’t it?