Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Case It's Based On

Past Behavior

Movie poster: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
Movie poster: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning hit theaters in 2006, and it probably won't be the last one. It's set in 1969, four years before the events in TCM (the 2003 remake), as four teenagers (two couples) cross Texas to have some fun before the two young men go to Vietnam. Three of them wind up captured by a cop and taken to the Hewitt farm, where Thomas Hewitt is growing up to become Leatherface. Directed by John Liebseman, the new film recognizes scenes from the original that were cut. It also explains just how the chainsaw wielding maniac got his start.

A woman named Luda Mae Hewitt found a baby abandoned in a dumpster after his mother died during the birth process. She adopts him and grows to hate other children when she sees the torment inflicted on her developing son, Thomas, facially disfigured from a skin disease. To shield himself, he donned a mask.

Thomas went to work in the local meat processing plant (seen in TCM, with graphic descriptions from Franklin), but when it closed and the boss tried to force Thomas to leave, he killed the man. He found a chainsaw in the plant, which he later used for murder, and this is how he became the maniac of TCM.

Leatherface, as he came to be called, removed the skin from different people to create different masks for different moods or purposes. One was a pretty woman, another an elderly woman. He also had a "killing mask." Bullying and isolation, along with his bizarre family environment, became the forces that molded him into a killer.

John Wayne Gacy
John Wayne Gacy

Given how many bodies were collected at the Hewitt home, we might also say that John Wayne Gacy, a Chicago-based serial killer from the 1970s, provided some inspiration. He lured boys to his home, assaulting and killing them, and then burying their bodies in the crawl space beneath the house. He lived there with his family who, while not participants, also did not notice that for several years their home was an expanding graveyard. Yet Gacy, too, was not a chainsaw-wielding killer. Nevertheless, chainsaws have certainly figured into violent incidents, from murder to desecration of corpses to suicide.


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