Jump to: Spoilers (15)
Marilyn Burns, whose character was chased by Leatherface through the undergrowth, actually cut herself on the branches quite badly, so a lot of the blood on her body and clothes is real.
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According to John Larroquette, his payment for doing the opening narration was a marijuana joint.
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When it was first released, the film was so horrifying that people actually walked out on sneak previews for it.
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Tobe Hooper allowed Gunnar Hansen to develop Leatherface as he saw fit, under his supervision. Hansen decided that Leatherface was mentally handicapped and never learned to talk properly, so he went to a school for the mentally handicapped and watched how they moved and listened to them talk to get a feel for the character. He also tried his best to make his portrayal as non-offensive as he could. Many fans including those who are mentally handicapped, say he succeeded.
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Director Tobe Hooper claims to have gotten the idea for the film while standing in the hardware section of a crowded store while Christmas shopping. While thinking of a way to get out through the crowd, he spotted the chainsaws.
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Surprisingly, this film is one of the least bloody horror films of all time. This is because Tobe Hooper intended to make the movie for a "PG" rating, by keeping violence moderate, language mild, and having most of the horror implied off-screen rather than shown in great detail onscreen. However, this plan had actually backfired, and made the film even more horrifying. Because despite cutting and repeated submissions, the Ratings Board insisted on an "X" rating, and it wasn't until the film received the "R" rating when Hooper gave up and released it. Hooper had a similar ratings problem with the sequel.
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The soundtrack contains no sounds from musical instruments (with the exception of some copyrighted music they had the rights to), instead they used sounds an animal would hear inside a slaughterhouse.
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Leatherface had "lines" in the script that were gibberish with little side notes indicating what he was trying to say.
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After getting into the old-age makeup, John Dugan decided that he did not ever want to go through the process again, meaning that all the scenes with him had to be filmed in the same session before he could take the makeup off. This entire process took about 36 hours (five of which which took to put the makeup on), during a brutal summer heat wave where the average temperature was over 100 degrees, with a large portion of it spent filming the dinner scene, with him wearing a heavy suit and necktie, sitting in a room filled with dead animals and rotting food with no air conditioning or electric fans. Everyone later recalled that the stench from the rotting food and people's body odor was so terrible that some crew members passed out or became sick from the smell. Edwin Neal who played the hitch-hiker claimed: "Filming that scene was the worst time of my life . . . and I had been in Vietnam, with people trying to kill me, so I guess that shows how bad it was."
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Gunnar Hansen said that, during filming, he didn't get along very well with Paul A. Partain, who played Franklin. A few years later he met Partain again and realized that Partain, a method actor, had simply chosen to stay in character even when not filming. The two remained good friends up to Partain's death.
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A still photo, taken during filming of the entire "Sawyer" family posing outside the house as a gag, was found and stolen from the set by a visiting German reporter, who took it back to West Germany with him, and the image of the family eventually became the advertising poster for the first release of the movie in West Germany.
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Tobe Hooper used a stunt double for Sally's leap through the window, but, Marilyn Burns actually hurt herself shooting the insert of her falling to the ground.
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Even in his lift boots, Gunnar Hansen could run faster than Marilyn Burns, so he had to do random things when chasing her through the woods (you'll notice in one head-on shot that he starts slicing up tree branches in the background).
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Due to the low budget, Gunnar Hansen had only one shirt to wear as Leatherface. The shirt had been dyed, so it could not be washed. Hansen had to wear it for four straight weeks of filming in the hot and humid Texas summer. By the end of the shoot, no one wanted to stand near Hansen or sit next to him during breaks to eat lunch because his clothing smelled so bad.
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Marilyn Burns' clothing was so drenched in fake blood that it was virtually solid by the last day's shoot.
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Gunnar Hansen originally turned down the role of Leatherface due to the sheer brutality of the plot. He was then persuaded by Marilyn Burns, who was friends with him at the time.
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Since the film's original release, the location used as the Sawyer family house has changed completely. It's now an open field, with no indication there had ever been a house there. The house itself has been relocated and fully restored. It is now operated as the Junction House Restaurant on the grounds of the Antlers Hotel complex at 1010 King St. in Kingsland, TX.
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The gas station the kids stop at was bought from the family of the original owners and is being renovated and turned into a "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" horror campground. The new owner is in the process of finding and purchasing as many original or contemporary period pieces for the resort. The owner is Roy Rose. He is putting in a restaurant, music venue and overnight cabins.
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Gunnar Hansen hit his head on doorways and other objects several times during the shoot because the Leatherface mask severely limited his peripheral vision and the three-inch heels he wore made his 6'4" frame too high to clear all obstacles.
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The film's original distributor was Bryanston Distribution Company, which turned out to be a Mafia front operated by Louis Peraino ("Butchie"), who used the movie to launder profits he made from Deep Throat (1972). In return, the production received only enough money to reimburse the investors and pay the cast and crew $405 apiece. The producers eventually discovered that Peraino had lied to them about the film's profits. After he was arrested on obscenity charges when his role in "Deep Throat" was revealed, the cast and crew filed suit against him and were awarded $25,000 each. New Line Cinema, which obtained the rights to the film from the now-bankrupt Bryanston, paid off the cast and crew as part of the purchase agreement.
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Gunnar Hansen wore three-inch heels so that he was taller than the rest of the cast, but it meant that he had to duck to get through the doorways in the slaughterhouse.
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The worst part of all with the climactic dinner scene was the 110 degree Texas heat, plus the filming lights meant all the food on the table quickly rotted, and the room's poor ventilation made the reek even worse, raising it to genuinely health-threatening levels. Filming for 27 straight hours led to several of the actors suffering genuine Sanity Slippage and taking Tobe Hooper's direction as meaning they really were their characters, not exactly the result you want when most of them were playing cannibalistic murderers. (The DVD commentary has Gunnar Hansen eerily recounting how he genuinely wanted to kill Marilyn Burns for a few seconds after being ordered to by his "brother.") Edwin Neal, who played the Hitchhiker, said that making the film was more miserable than his service in Vietnam and said that he might kill director Tobe Hooper if he ever saw him again.
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The company worked seven days a week, 16 hours a day, in the summertime in one of Texas' notoriously brutal heat waves where the daytime temperature was over 100 degrees and later hovered at around 80 at night.
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The film's original budget was $60,000. During the editing process, the filmmakers incurred an additional $80,000 in costs, requiring that they sell off portions of their ownership in the film's royalties.
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"Entertainment Weekly" magazine voted this the second scariest film ever made, behind The Exorcist (1973)
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Leatherface's teeth were prostheses made especially for Gunnar Hansen by his dentist.
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Some urban legends say that the "real" Texas Chainsaw Massacre took place near Poth (a small town about 36 miles southeast of San Antonio). This is false. The film is fictional and based loosely on the life of Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein (as is the classic Psycho (1960)), as well as Buffalo Bill, in the movie "Silence of the Lambs"..
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The film was rejected by the British film censors in 1975, but it did get a limited cinema release in the London area, thanks to the GLC (Greater London Council). It was banned again in 1977, when the censors' attempts to cut it were unsuccessful (for the purposes of a wider release), then it was banned again in 1984, due to the growing controversy involving "video nasties". In 1999, after the censors finally changed their policy, they took the plunge and passed it uncut for the cinema and video. It had been 25 years since they first banned it.
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Leatherface wore three different masks: the "Killing Mask", "Old Lady Mask" and "Pretty Woman Mask". Gunnar Hansen commented: "The reason he wore a mask, according to Tobe and Kim, was that the mask really determined his personality. Who he wanted to be that day determined what mask he put on. So when Drayton comes home with Sally, Leatherface is wearing the 'Old Lady Mask' and he's wearing an apron and carrying a wooden spoon, he wants to be domestic, helpful in the kitchen. At dinner he wears a different face, the 'Pretty Woman,' which has makeup." The "Pretty Woman" outfit consists of a female wig and a black suit, as Leatherface is "dressing up" for dinner, an old deep south tradition which stems from his southern upbringing, and the "Killing Mask" is the skin mask he wears while chasing and murdering captives. Hansen later added, "The idea of the mask is that there is no personality under the mask. That was the idea in talking with Tobe and Kim. When they created the character, they said he has to put on masks to express himself because he himself can't do it. The way we tried to create him, there is nothing under the mask, which is what makes him so frightening."
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The film was originally banned in Finland, but after 25 years it was released uncut.
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Edwin Neal said, in a documentary, that he read for the part acting like an eccentric nephew of his and that, luckily for him, it was exactly what Tobe Hooper was looking for.
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Contrary to popular belief, this film is not a true story. It was filmed from 15 July 1973-14 August 1973, while the opening narrative claims that the real events took place on 18 August 1973. Therefore, it would have been impossible for the film to have been based on events that had not happened at the time of filming.
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Jim Siedow, who plays Leatherface's brother, is 20 years older than John Dugan, who plays Leatherface's grandfather.
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Ed Gein--on whom "Leatherface" was loosely based--was not a true serial killer, as he actually only killed two people, both of them women. He was however, a ghoul. He stole body parts--only female--from many different graves. He kept some of the parts in his refrigerator, and skinned one corpse and wore the skin as a dress.
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Originally had a two-week shooting schedule, but filming ultimately took four weeks.
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According to Edwin Neal (Nubbins/Hitchhiker), Texas State Troopers actually shook his hand and thanked him for causing crime to drop 18%. Apparently the message audiences took away from the movie was "Don't pick up hitchhikers".
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The chainsaw used in this film was a Poulan 245A, with a piece of black tape covering the Poulan logo in order to avoid a possible lawsuit.
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Ranks at #1 in Slant Magazine's Top 100 Greatest Horror Movies of all time.
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Most of the actors didn't actually meet Gunnar Hansen, let alone see him in costume, before their first (which is also usually their last) scene with him.
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One of the crew members, Dorothy J. Pearl, accidentally injected herself in the leg with formaldehyde while preparing one of the props.
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The movie wasn't released in Australia or New Zealand until the early 1980s, and it was only released in Super 8 format in New Zealand until the mid-'90s.
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In an interview Gunnar Hansen stated that he saw Leatherface as "completely under the control of his family, he'll do whatever they tell him to do oh, he's a little bit afraid of them", in the documentary The Shocking Truth, director Tobe Hooper portrays Leatherface as a "big baby" who kills in self-defense because he feels threatened.
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This film has had a long and troubled "relationship" with German law. The original theatrical version in West Germany was denied a rating and therefore cut. In 1982 it was put on the index for youth-endangering media. Then in 1985 it was banned by the Munich district court and all existing copies were confiscated. Over the years the film was released on VHS and DVD in various (legal and illegal) versions, mostly cut. Since April 2008 the new German licensee, Turbine Medien, has tried to get the banning revoked and the film removed from the index. In September 2011 the district court of Frankfurt am Main finally lifted the banning (it was the first time in Germany that such an attempt was successful, making judiciary history). Finally, in December 2011 the film was removed from the BPjM index and subsequently rated "Not under 18" by the FSK.
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John Larroquette stated in a 2008 interview that he's never seen the film.
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The film is one of several so-called "drive-in" flicks that were presented as true stories (à la The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972), Walking Tall (1973), Macon County Line (1974), Jackson County Jail (1976), and The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976)) In each case, most, if not all, of what was portrayed on screen was outright fiction-- with the exception of "The Town That Dreaded Sundown", which was inspired by the Phantom Killer murders in Texarkana, Texas in 1946.
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During the filming of the dinner scene, it was actually broad daylight outside with no air conditioning inside of the house. This meant that they had to have blackout curtains which only made the house hotter. The temperature inside would sometimes rise to over 120 degrees Fahrenheit and because all of the animal bones and carcasses were real this intense amount of heat began to make the smell absolutely unbearable. Many of the actors have said that they would go outside and vomit only to come back in and finish recording.
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In one of Marilyn Burns' final interviews before her death, she stated that she would take the clothes she wore during filming with her to wash. After one particular wash, when she returned to the mat she discovered the purple shirt (and a few other copies of it) had been stolen from the dryer. Luckily the store she had gotten them from had one left but it was in one size larger, and so she had to buy it and that was the shirt she wore for most of the film.
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Many of the film's original locations were later featured in Headcheese (2002), a short film named after one of this film's early titles.
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The van the kids drive in the movie belonged to Ted Nicolaou, who worked as a sound recordist on the film. The chainsaw used in the film with borrowed by producer Richard Saenz with Specific Instructions that it be returned in working condition
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The Leatherface name and gimmick were used by many professional wrestling promotions as a tribute to the film. The character was first used in Memphis and has been done in many promotions by a variety of wrestlers, including Michael Kirchner, Rick Patterson, Brian Harris, Dennis Knight and Ken Raper. Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling (FMW) in Japan sometimes called the character "Super Leather."
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Leatherface is a member of the Sawyer family. A sawyer is a person who uses a chainsaw. Some sources have also noted its resemblance to "Sawney", as in the (probably-apocryphal) cannibal clan led by Sawney Bean in mediæval Scotland.
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Ranked #6 in Entertainment Weekly's "Top 50 Cult Films of All-Time."
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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Working titles for the film were, Stalking Leatherface and Head Cheese.
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According to the radio news reader, the cemetery where the graverobbing occurred was in Muerto County, Texas. Muerto County is fictional. In fact, "Muerto" means "Dead" in Spanish.
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Ed Guinn said that he took his role very seriously with an "all work and no play" attitude. He was so nervous during the shooting that he would forget to stop the truck in time for the filmmakers to prop the dummy Hitchhiker in front of his truck and almost hit a real person.
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Amazingly, in a short prologue announced by actor John Larroquette, the filmmakers claim at the beginning of the movie the the story is true! (Filmmakers played similar stunts with Fargo, and Blair Witch Project). What the filmmakers might be referring to is that it is very loosely based on Ed Gein, but Gein was mostly a grave robber who did in fact use people's bodies to make furniture, and he did wear carcasses as body suits, but the running around with a chainsaw bit never happened.
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The van that they drive in is a 1972 Ford Club Wagon [E-100].
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The film is unique in that it contains one of the only instances where the victim startles the villain (it happens in the scene where Sally runs down the stairs and screams at Leatherface after he sawed his way inside).
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The electric generator used to power Leatherface's farmhouse was an air-cooled Wisconsin 12HP generator. Leatherface's character is based upon Wisconsin native Ed Gein, who was a notorious ghoul and murderer in the 1950s.
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Texas Chainsaw Massacre is what inspired Ridley Scott to make Alien. Some people have even called Alien a Texas Chainsaw Massacre in space.
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John Bloom called The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) "the greatest movie ever made". He filmed a cameo for the sequel, but it was cut out.
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Tobe Hooper had most props and other equipment (including the original 2 reels of film) in a storage room in Austin, TX. Tobe's mother got tired of paying the rent on the storage facility and put the box(es) out on the curb where there was already some trash to be thrown away. Ed picked up the items for himself. He said that he kept a few items but a lot of it went to the Humanities Research Department of UT Austin.
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According to Barbara Thomas, the owner of the Kingsland Old Town Grill and the Antler Inn, she said that many families lived in the home since it was built in the early 1900s. It seemed as though a different family lived there every few years. To this day, people that grew up in the house drop by the restaurant for their great food and to say "Hi".
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According to the current owner of the house in Kingsland, TX., the previous owner told her that they painted most of the 2nd floor pink to try to get their kids to sleep upstairs. They were too scared to sleep upstairs, so their parents tried to make it a bit more comfortable for them to spend their nights up there. The wallpaper was later added. Interestingly enough, the same wallpaper that was used upstairs is the same pattern, but different colors used for the upstairs in the sister home.
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Franklin was named after his Grandparent's last name. This carries his Grandparents last name to his first name, thus allowing for "Hardesty" to be his last name.
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According to John Thomas, a former occupant of the Leatherface house on Quick Hill, confirmed that the railroad ties that were used to build the swing stand are still being used by his father for other purposes. Although he does not know what happened to the actual swing,
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Ed Guinn (Cattle Truck Driver) does promotions for low budget filming business in Texas.
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The film location where Franklin urinated in the Amphora can, was on the South side of Hwy 79 East of Round Rock just around the curve from a convenience store and before the Georgetown road (Church St. in G'tn). The amphora can was taken off in the bushes by Tobe Hooper, Daniel and others to get "wild sound" of someone actually whizzing into the can.
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During the dinner scene toward the end of the film, when Leatherface cuts Sally's finger, actress Marilyn Burns slightly moved her finger so he would actually cut her. This happened because they couldn't get the fake blood to come out of the tube behind the blade.
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In the iconic scene when Gunnar Hansen ("Leatherface") swings his chainsaw in frustration because Sally gets away, Hansen was directed to look frustrated and he knew stomping his feet in anger would not suffice. He changed it to swinging his chainsaw because he wanted to scare director Tobe Hooper as "payback" for the way he treated the cast during filming.
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The close-up of Leatherface cutting his leg on the chainsaw was the very last shot to be filmed. The actor was wearing a metal plate over his leg, which was then covered with a piece of meat and a blood bag. His scream was the actor's genuine scream of pain, as the chain repeatedly hit the plate. The friction from this caused the plate to get very hot and it burned his leg.
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The chainsaw is actually seen cutting the flesh of only one character on-screen, and only then at the very end--and it's the leg of Leatherface himself.
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Despite the obvious implications of the film's title, only one victim is killed by a chainsaw. Two more are bludgeoned, one is impaled on a meat hook and one is run over by a semi-truck.
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For Pam's meat hook death scene, Teri McMinn was actually held up by a nylon cord that went between her legs which were padded with Maxi-Pads, despite the padding, it was still quite painful. She decided to use that pain to make her performance more believable.
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Teri McMinn strongly believes that her character Pam escaped from the Freezer and made it out alive, as she thinks the character of Pam was a fighter, as she stated in a previous interview.
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Body count: 5.
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Franklin describes (in hideous detail) how some of the slaughterhouse cattle would twitch and convulse after being hit with the sledgehammer. Exactly how Kirk dies when Leatherface cracks his head open with a hammer.
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The gas station attendant also mentions that it's a bad idea to just go into people's houses, especially since the owner might not take kindly to it. This is exactly how and why the first two deaths happen, even though the conversation was about a different house.
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As there is only a single chainsaw related death in the movie (that of Franklin), there are more occurrences of Sally jumping out of windows than chainsaw killings.
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When Leatherface cuts his leg on the chainsaw, the friction of the blade caused the protective plate on Gunnar Hansen's leg to heat up and burn his leg. So his scream of pain is real.
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The rag that the old man uses to tie Sally up was used to clean the meat off of the table.
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The Hitchhiker talks about how the sledgehammer is a better method of killing the animals in the slaughterhouse. The first member of the group to die gets killed with a sledgehammer and it is not pretty.
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The truck that runs down and kills the hitchhiker is a 1961 Peterbilt 351.
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