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The Real Reason Leatherface's Actor Had To Wear Heels For The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

There's no disputing an actor's costume and makeup greatly informs a character, especially when it comes to films in the horror genre. Easily one of the greatest early examples of that was the square-headed, bolt-necked visage created by legendary makeup maestro Jack Pierce for Frankenstein's monster in the 1931 classic "Frankenstein." And while it was unrealistic for Hollywood at the time to convincingly create an 8-foot-tall creature as described in Mary Shelley's classic novel, Universal Pictures simply couldn't sit content with 5-foot-11-inch Boris Karloff embodying the role. As such, the height of Karloff's monster was boosted four inches by giving him boots with lifts, putting the actor in the vicinity of 6-feet-3-inches tall, per Far Out Magazine.

Fast-forward four decades and Hollywood's standards for their movie monsters had clearly changed. For director Tobe Hooper, Leatherface, the most monstrous character in his destined-to-be horror classic "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" not only had to be tall, but really tall. Apparently, actor Gunnar Hansen's 6-foot-4-inch frame wasn't imposing enough and he needed to be a few inches taller.

Tobe Hooper added 3 inches to Gunnar Hansen's already menacing height

Released in 1974, "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" had a shocking premise, as a group including a pair of siblings and their three friends encounter a cannibalistic family while trying to find their family's homestead in a remote part of Texas. The film is said to be partially inspired by the real-life killer and grave robber Ed Gein, who had removed his victims' skin to fashion various trophies, including masks.

Doing the dirty work for the cannibal family in "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" was Leatherface, whose mask wasn't really made of leather, but the dried skin of one of the family's victims. The character became iconic not only for his ghastly looks but also for the way in which he brutally dispatched his victims with a chainsaw.

As if Leatherface's costume — including an apron — and mask weren't menacing enough, Hooper gave the character one final lift, quite literally, with a set of three-inch heels. The rationale was simple, as the director wanted Leatherface to tower over everyone else in the cast. Hansen's new 6-foot-7-inch height reportedly presented at least a pair of new challenges, though; for one, it made it more difficult for Hansen to run during chase scenes (via E! Online), an especially dangerous task considering he's wielding a chainsaw while doing it. On the more of an inconvenient side of things, Hansen supposedly kept hitting his head on doorways in the family's house.

While Hansen's boot lifts didn't spark a fashion craze when the movie was released, platform shoes went on to become a thing in the late 1970s with the disco craze, as well as a necessary accessory for the classic rock band KISS and iconic piano man Elton John. But the next time fans of "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" contemplate why Leatherface was so damn horrifying, they'll need to figure the character's added height into the equation.