The tagline says, “What happened is true.” Tobe Hooper based this classic horror flick on serial killer Ed Gein (who has inspired several other “based on a true story” movies…). I will examine things that are true/false based only on events in “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (not the other Gein-inspired movies).
What is true:
- Ed Gein lived on an isolated farm.
- Ed Gein made trophies… and other stuff… out of body parts and bones: including skin lampshades, belts, and bowls made out of skulls.
- Ed Gein did have several skin masks that he wore.
- Ed Gein was convicted of killing and decapitating two women.
- Ed Gein often went grave robbing (you see reports of this at the beginning of the movie)
What isn’t true:
- Ed Gein lived in Wisconsin, not Texas.
- The two women definitely killed by Gein were local business owners, not random teens.
- Ed Gein lived alone after the (suspicious) death of his brother and the deaths of his parents… this was definitely not a family affair.
- Most of the body parts found when the police raided Gein’s house were taken from graves.
- While the bodies found were dismembered, there is no evidence that Gein used a chainsaw.
The verdict? Obviously, this is very loosely based on Gein’s murders. This was more of a “what would happen if a VW bus full of teens happened across this guy?” Or a, “Hey, we’ve got a guy in a skin mask! Let’s call him Leatherface and hand him a chainsaw!” The true elements are merely the fact that this guy existed – which I suppose is horror enough. The plot of the teens accidentally discovering the farmhouse of horrors and being killed off is entirely fictional.