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Is The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Based On A True Story?

Horror films are often inspired by true crime, and Tobe Hooper's "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" is no different. The iconic 1974 movie was among the first wave of slasher films to popularize the genre just before its Golden Age between 1978 and 1984. Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen) was a hulking killer who donned a DIY flesh facial mask and used a chainsaw to chop up his victims. It was unbelievably gruesome, so how true was the film's marketing about being a true story?

While Leatherface's real-life inspiration didn't target young adults with power tools, he did live in a quaint farmhouse with equally disturbing hand-crafted human décor. The cannibalistic family and their eclectic displays of violence, which turned into an eight-film franchise, followed in the footsteps of an oft-overlooked Midwestern grave robber.

Can you guess which famous killer loosely inspired Leatherface, one of horror's most vicious villains? Here's a hint: "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" isn't the only film that borrowed elements from this sadist.

The Plainfield Ghoul to chainsaw massacrist pipeline

Ed Gein may not have the same household name notoriety as fellow Wisconsin native Jeffrey Dahmer, but both murderers left behind a cruel legacy of violence that would go on to inspire the horror genre. Nicknamed the Plainfield Ghoul, Gein was primarily a grave robber who collected body parts to desecrate in every way possible.

From clothing and jewelry made of skin to kitchen utensils carved from bones and salted body parts, Gein's home was like a macabre museum preserving his twisted trophies. While Leatherface is also a graverobber, he has a significantly higher kill count than Gein, who claimed just two victims. However, the killer's alarmingly nonchalant demeanor, human-skin masks, and presumed cannibalism heavily influenced the film's silent, flesh-wearing, chainsaw-wielding cannibal.

In addition to "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," Gein's disturbing crimes served as inspiration for other legendary horror films like "Psycho" and "Silence of the Lambs." If you ask Hooper, though, the film isn't necessarily about Gein — it's about the meat industry.