The Real ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ Wasn’t in Texas, Didn’t Involve a Chainsaw, and Wasn’t a Massacre

Film critic J.C. Maçek III examines the urban legend behind The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the real story of it’s inspiration, Ed Gein:

Although Gein is sometimes referred to as a “serial killer”, he was only ever proven to have killed two people (his crimes were more of the “grave robbing” sort), there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Gein ever used a chainsaw in his crimes and there is no evidence whatsoever that Gein had ever set foot in the great state of Texas at any point in his long life.

In short. No Texas, no chainsaw… no massacre. Another slice of reality is that Gein was arrested in 1957, 16 years before the purported events of the first film. Unlike Leatherface, Gein was a complete loner with no psychotic family to help him (everyone was already dead) and Gein lived his entire life (including the prison years) in Wisconsin. While I will grant that “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” is a more interesting title than, say, “The Wisconsin Cemetery Vandalism Cheese Acre”, that hardly makes the story real.

Still, Gein’s really gross crimes had invaded the public consciousness enough to inspire books and movies about him. And The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was far from the first of these. Probably the first fictional story inspired by Gein was penned by a 40-year-old writer who lived less than one hour away from Gein at the time of his arrest. Two years later that novel was published and only one year after that, its first film adaptation was released and is still hailed today as one of the best films ever made. The author was Robert Bloch, the book was Psycho (1959) and the acclaimed film that it inspired is commonly referred to as “Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho” (1960), one of the prime examples of the horror art film.


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