Gunnar Hansen’s Chain Saw Confidential
Chain Saw Confidential: How We Made the World’s Most Notorious Horror Movie
Author: Gunnar Hansen
Published: September 24, 2013
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars
When The Texas Chain Saw Massacre first hit movie screens in 1974 it was both reviled and championed. To critics, it was either “a degrading, senseless misuse of film and time” or “an intelligent, absorbing and deeply disturbing horror film.” However it was an immediate hit with audiences. Banned and celebrated, showcased at the Cannes film festival and included in the New York MoMA’s collection, it has now come to be recognized widely as one of the greatest horror movies of all time.
A six-foot-four poet fresh out of grad school with limited acting experience, Gunnar Hansen played the masked, chain-saw-wielding Leatherface. His terrifying portrayal and the inventive work of the cast and crew would give the film the authentic power of nightmare, even while the gritty, grueling, and often dangerous independent production would test everyone involved, and lay the foundations for myths surrounding the film that endure even today.
Critically-acclaimed author Hansen here tells the real story of the making of the film, its release, and reception, offering unknown behind-the-scenes details, a harrowingly entertaining account of the adventures of low-budget filmmaking, illuminating insights on the film’s enduring and influential place in the horror genre and our culture, and a thoughtful meditation on why we love to be scared in the first place.
A while ago, I made the admission that I love horror. I can blame Ivan for introducing me to horror movies, but even before that, I loved the horror genre in books. The scarier the better! Ivan and our friend, Adam, have talked about Texas Chainsaw Massacre before and I had begged Ivan to watch it with me. He included the soundtrack from the remake on his Halloween playlist and that theme is seriously the scariest score I have ever heard, but I couldn’t watch the remake until I watched the original, so I asked Ivan again to watch it with me. Finally, FINALLY, we sat down to watch it . . . blew my friggin mind! I jumped, I squealed, I shut my eyes, I asked why . . . but what shocked me was that a week afterward, I was still pondering. Ivan has a habit of asking me what I’m thinking about while we’re driving, and that week, I answered “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” He got so excited and we ended up having conservation after conversation about this dang movie!
I have to say, I really love Chainsaw! It’s violent and graphic and horrible, but it’s riveting! I was so intrigued and continue to be so! Audible had a Halloween sale and look! A book by the man who played Leatherface all about the filming of the movie!!! I bought it, and listened to it, and now I want to watch Chainsaw again!! I learned so much; the people behind this movie were just as crazy as you’d expect. Reading about the dinner scene was enlightening and I was surprised at how horrible the filming was for the cast and crew. I am so sad that Gunnar Hansen is dead and I can never meet him. Toby Hooper, the director, is also dead . . . I was born in the wrong decade. This book isn’t for everybody, but if you are a horror fan, then this book is for you! I absolutely recommend it and the original movie!
Here is the movie trailer for the 1974 version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: