This year’s Halloween tutorial series will show you how to make your own LEATHERFACE costume from the original horror classic, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre! No 3D. No pop music score. No Hollywood wannabes. Just pure, unadulterated terror. Wes Craven famously commented that TCM looked like “someone stole a camera and started killing people.” He wouldn’t be wrong. What often surprises people, though, is the fact that there’s almost no blood in the film. There certainly isn’t the sort of mega-effects we see in horror films today. So why is this one so freaking scary?
First off, there’s the simple way the events are shown. There isn’t much story. Kids pick up a weirdo hitchhiker and pretty soon all but one of them is dead. This formula would be brought to an artistic pinnacle by John Carpenter’s original Halloween film, but for folk-art realism, you can’t beat TCM. Horrible things just happen and they’re shot in the same way you might shoot your family reunion. There’s no attempt at making the events more horrible. They exist as fact and, as such, are truly horrifying to the viewer. We watch and we can’t stop these freaks from simply doing what they do as a matter of course.
That’s the other thing that stands out to me. The chainsaw family isn’t exactly evil. They might be crazy, but there’s very little malevolence on display. There’s a subplot about the family losing their jobs at the local slaughterhouse and that goes a long way toward explaining how they came to see people as food. Killing animals anesthetized them to the idea of killing and it was pretty easy to cross the line into seeing teenagers as meat. I consider this one of the best pro-vegetarian movies out there, right behind the first Babe movie. Director Tobe Hooper said in an interview with Bizarre, “I gave up meat while making that film. In a way I thought the heart of the film was about meat; it’s about the chain of life and killing sentient beings, and it has cannibalism in it, although you have to come to that conclusion by yourself because it’s only implied. Guillermo Del Toro also gave up eating meat after seeing that movie.”
But I digress. You came here for costuming info and you shall have it. My Leatherface ’74 costume is well underway and I plan several posts between now and Halloween. First up is the chainsaw prop, then we’ll have the mask, and finally the soft goods. As is usually the case, I try to include only commercially licensed products that are readily available on the open market. Yes, there are some kick-ass indie mask makers making Leatherface masks, but those often have sporadic availability, long waiting lists, and relatively high prices. If you’d prefer to go that route, perhaps you can use other portions of these tutorials to complete your outfit. My advice is just that – advice. It’s a starting point that you can mod to make your own.
More soon, Chainsaw fans!