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Played by Gunnar Hansen, Leatherface was the main villain in both the 1974 and 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

With his distorted white leather face mask and slaughter man's apron, the Leatherface of the early 70s was a pioneering example of a boogeyman years before the conception of the likes of Freddy Krueger or Jason Voorhees. He was a cold blooded killer who killed just for the fun of it, without any motive whatsoever. He reveled in mutilating his victims in the most gruesome ways and most perversely of all, making weird statues and sculptures from the body parts of his victims. The suggestion was also there that Leatherface and his family (the Sawyers) lured people back to their place and killed them because slaughtering cattle at the local abattoir just wasn't enough.

Most notably enough is that while Leatherface quickly became a legend in the Horror genre, and even though we see him in the first film without his disguise on, (the bald guy who washes the windows of the teens' van) he says not a single word throughout the film. The closest we come to hearing him speak is when he makes pig sounds to lure his first victim into the kitchen.

The end of the first film ends quite inconclusively for Leatherface who is left on a country road near his house taking his frustrations out on his chainsaw while Sally Hardesty (Marilyn Burns) gets away on the back of a pickup truck.

Unfortunately Leatherface seems to lose some of his edge in the newer version of the film. (which quite frankly should be a sequel rather than a remake) Granted, Leatherface takes a tip from Silence Of The Lambs and starts making his masks from his victim's faces, but now we are given a motive: Leatherface is horribly disfigured and this is what pushes him over the edge. We also see one or two emotional scenes and even a little dialogue from him. Leatherface now has a mother a little brother running around the place as well. In my opinion this detracts from his character somewhat, as he is no longer the motiveless cold-blooded killer he once was and if he was softened up just a little more one could even feel sorry for him, as in my opinion at least it gives him more the air of being misguided than menacing. The saving grace of Leatherface here is that he does actually mostly use his chainsaw to commit his murders in this film, and uses it quite deftly to dismember people, rather than the meat cleaver he seemed to favour in 1974.

We don't see much of a conclusive end for Leatherface at the end of the second film either, just a scene in his basement where cops are filming the scene of the murders when he comes out of nowhere, kills both officers and then buggers off into the great blue yonder. When the film came out, some impressionable people believed this footage was actually real, but obviously it wasn't, although it is true that he's very loosely based around a real-life murderer.


Background websites:
http://www.imdb.com
http://www.texaschainsawmovie.com/

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