Do You Know Who Really Inspired The Texas Chainsaw Massacre?
Most people would say Ed Gein. That's not entirely correct though...
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was released in 1974 and didn't exactly blow up the box office. Slowly but surely though, it became a huge underground, (then above ground) success.
It inspired Halloween costumes, led to several sequels, prequels and spin-offs, made Leatherface a household name and earned a spot on almost everyone's Halloween movie "must watch" list.
They took a big chunk of poetic license with the "based on a true story" claim though. Some real life events, (some horrific-some completely normal), did get Tobe Hooper's imagination going though, giving us the inbred family of cannibals we all know and love.
One was, indeed, the story of Ed Gein. He murdered a woman, cut off her head, gutted her like an animal and hung her from his roof. He also dug up dead bodies. Jars full of human organs and skulls, (being used as soup bowls), were found in his home.
Ed inspired a collection of Hollywood psychos like Buffalo Bill, the Firefly family and Norman Bates just to name a few.
Motivationally speaking, that's weird enough. There's more though ...
Hooper had also read the story of Elmer Wayne Henley. He recruited victims for an older, gay man in Houston, dozens of whom were killed. When charged, Henley said 'I did these crimes, and I'm gonna stand up and take it like a man.
He wanted it known that, now that he was caught, he would do the right thing. So this kind of moral schizophrenia is something I tried to build into the characters. - sports.yahoo.com
Inspiration for the Leatherface family name?
Another story rumored to have played an inspirational role was of 5 friends held hostage and tortured for hours in 1973 by a family named Sawyer. Same last name as Leather's 'kin.
The chainsaw was inspired by a daydream Hooper had while standing, (impatiently I guess), in line near a rack of chainsaws. He imagined a way to "cut" through the line.
The dinner scene was inspired by every family dinner scene, in every family centered show, ever. Happy family sharing their meal and their day.