Gunnar Hansen THE “ORIGINAL” LEATHERFACE
When the word “Slasher” comes to mind, most people think of names like Jason, Freddy, or Michael. I don’t. I think of LEATHERFACE. He’s the character that established the whole “slasher” genre. He was the original masked killer. And the man directly responsible for making this character a part of all our nightmares was Gunnar Hansen.
One thing that differentiates LEATHERFACE from other typical slashers is that his killing is motivated by the instinct of survival. Although it might seem sick and it is, LEATHERFACE and the family kill for food. They didn’t kill teenagers out of a sense of revenge or because they were having sex or smoking pot. That’s all a little silly. They kill to keep their bellies full. This made LEATHERFACE an even more dangerous adversary because hunger is probable our strongest urge.
Check: Gunnar Hasen Interview
Another thing that makes LEATHERFACE so different from his peers, is that under the leather there was nothing. He is a blank slate motivated to slaughter all the cattle who come to a calling. Other slashers use masks to hide their identity while LEATHERFACE wears them to gain an identity. He is the ultimate killing machine. A snake coiled to strike with his almighty chainsaw. Although his body count might not be as high as other slashers, his kills were gut-wretchedly precise and merciless.
Gunnar Hansen was magnificent in the role of LEATHERFACE and unfortunately for us, he only appeared in the original. The writers have since destroyed the character that Gunnar molded on the big screen. In the sequels, LEATHERFACE was giving an identity with emotions, rather than being the monster Gunnar worked so hard to portray. LEATHERFACE became more comical and less menacing. Maybe someday, Gunnar could reprise his role and get this series back to its origins.
I had the pleasure of meet Gunnar at the recent Monster Bash. I was able to sit down with him and discuss his experiences on the set of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and his portrayal of LEATHERFACE. He was a great guy. He even e-mails after the Bash to let me know he liked my site.
As always please e-mail me if you have anything you can add to this page, or if you have any comments, criticisms or suggestion.