Gunnar Hansen, Marilyn Burn in 'The Texas Chain Saw Massacre'. Photo by Everett Collection.
The Whole Truth
2. Though the opening of the movie states it’s based on true events, “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” never actually happened, certainly not in Texas, and technically, not anywhere. Hooper has said the film is loosely based on the horrific deeds of real-life murderer Ed Gein (who also reportedly influenced Norman Bates in “Psycho” and Jame Gumb in “Silence of the Lambs”). By “loosely,” Hooper was apparently referring to the Hollywood definition of the word, as the real story is that Gein lived in Wisconsin, had a penchant for pilfering graves then making odd household items out of human remains (including masks), and admitted to killing two people, though he never used a chainsaw to do his dirty work. Hooper has also stated that he was inspired by a stand-up display of chainsaws he saw at Montgomery Ward while doing some Christmas shopping, which caused him to fantasize about the best way to drive off the throngs of people in line.