Neil Young’s Film Lounge – Leatherface Speaks


6/10 (short)

full title Leatherface Speaks – An Informal Interview with Gunnar Hansen
UK 2001 : Jim MORAN : 21 mins

Entertaining, informative mini-documentary in which Hansen recalls the filming of Tobe Hooper’s 1974 Texas Chain Saw Massacre in which he obtained a degree of screen immortality as the hapless Leatherface. During the talking-head interview (conducted at Bradford’s NMPFT by an off-camera, often barely-audible Tony Earnshaw in 2000) Hansen – now a softly-spoken, bearded, bearish, only slightly scary-looking cross between Michael McDonald and Bruce McGill – ends a long-running controversy by confirming that Hooper’s name is pronounced “Toby” (Ed Gein’s is “geen”, by the way), and talks intelligently and articulately about:

  • His own engagement with the genre – “every horror movie I ever saw scared the bejesus out of me”
  • How he was hired – “[Hooper said] ‘We knew we wanted you because you filled the door”
  • The character he played – “severely retarded and quite demented”
  • The special challenges posed by the role – “he has no lines – no face to act with”

 ·               His anonymity – “I love the fact that no-one knows who I am”
 ·               Fans’ expectations – “Many people assume that I’m stupid and brutish and dangerous,
 ·               and they’re either relieved or disappointed when they meet me.”

Although an illuminating 20 minutes (which doesn’t show any signs of being edited to a significant degree), the interview could profitably be bulked up by the judicious use of clips – the stills we see don’t really capture the essence of this famously gruelling semi-classic. Nevertheless, Leatherface Speaks would make a fine featurette addition to any DVD edition of Hooper’s film, and stands as a valuable little curio on its own right. The most amusing moment of which comes when “noises off” disrupt Hansen’s train of thought – “Please, I’m a star,” he joshes, shooting a brief but blood-chilling glare at the unseen, offending party. Did I say only slightly scary-looking..?

[seen on video, Sunderland, September 2004]
to order a copy of Leatherface Speaks e-mail

by Neil Young