A Tribute to Gunnar Hansen (1947-2015)

The world lost another icon of horror as Gunnar Hansen passed away after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. For the uninitiated Hansen was the man under the mask in Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. A film that we here at Morbid Movies recently screened for all you lucky cult film fans. If there was ever a film deserving of such a status it is the absolutely bonkers 1974 TCM.

As Leatherface, Hansen created one most iconic slashers in film history and rightfully so. Leatherface, with his mallet and chainsaw and maternal instincts, is the terrifying stuff of nightmares. Any other actor would probably have been hard pressed to put the physicality required by the role but not Hansen. He played Leatherface with psychotic glee and his massive frame made for a believable monstrous maniac. That first scene he appears in, stoving a man’s skull in with a mallet, speaks volumes to the level of strength he brought to the role. The final shot of him spinning and dancing and waving his chainsaw down the road shows us just what separated Leatherface from other slashers, he had strong personality and a level of insanity that was beyond that of Michael Myers, Jason Vorheees and Freddy Krueger. His slasher was believable and horrific and all the more terrifying because of it.

Gunnar went on to be a writer and an actor full time, but for the purposes of this goodbye I am only going to mention them in passing.

Goodbye Mr. Hansen, thank you for Leatherface. I hope that you rest peacefully knowing that your legacy will be secure, knowing that as long as this world exists there will be people saying “Hey, check out this movie…it is so awesome and messed up and wait until you see Leatherface.”

Thank you for the screams. Thank you for the nightmares. Thank you.

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