The year is 1973. An unknown vandal has constructed ghoulish sculptures out of human remains from the graveyards in a small Texas town. A group of college students, two girls: Sally and Pam, and three boys Jerry, Kirk, and Sally's wheelchair-bound brother Franklin are heading through the back roads of Texas en route to the grave of Sally's grandfather, one of those believed vandalized. A vile smell alerts them to the presence of a nearby slaughterhouse, and Franklin tells them about it. Against their better judgement, they stop for a hitchhiker, who acts crazily, cutting his hand open with Franklin's pen knife and subsequently slashing Franklin's arm with a straight razor before the others manage to eject him from the vehicle. In a bizarre moment, he smears his bloody hand on their van before they can drive away. They stop at a gas station, but the old man in charge of the place tells them that the tanks are empty. The girls go in for some sodas as Franklin tells the owner that they are going to his grandfather's old place. The old man seems to want to discourage them from going to the house, giving them a subtle warning that folks around those parts don't like strangers messing around their property. After buying some barbeque sandwiches, they leave and go to the old house anyway. Kirk and Pam go to look for a swimming hole as Jerry, Sally, and Franklin stay behind. Kirk and Pam find the water is all dried up in the swimming hole, but the sound of a running generator attracts them to a small farmhouse nearby. Kirk hopes to barter with the occupants for some gas, and they discover something odd on the property, a large canvas hides a junkyard full of vehicles, most of them intact. Kirk knocks on the door to find that there seems to be nobody home. He finds a human tooth on the front porch and gives it to Pam, who reacts in disgust and goes to sit on a yard swing. Kirk continues to knock on the door, which drifts open. Hearing a strange, inhuman squealing sound, he runs down a hall and suddenly a large menacing figure with a mask of human skin looms out at him. He kills Kirk with a blow to the head from a sledgehammer, dragging the body through the doorway and slamming a steel door shut. Leatherface from the Texas Chain Saw Massacre is considered one of the most famous horror villains in cinema history. Pam gets restless and enters the house looking for Kirk. She goes into the dining room and falls into a nightmarish collection of body parts and bones from both humans and animals. She sees furniture made out of human limbs, a live chicken in a small cage hanging from the ceiling, strange decorations made out of skulls and bones. The floor is literally covered in bone fragments and chicken feathers. Pam slightly vomits and begins to go into hysterics, screaming for Kirk. She gets up and lurches into the hall, just as the steel door flies open and the large man bolts out at her. He chases her and catches her just as she reaches the front porch, dragging her kicking and screaming body back into the house. Leatherface takes Pam into the kitchen and hangs her on a meathook through her upper back. In agony and shock, Pam is forced to watch as Leatherface casually dismembers Kirk's dead body with a chainsaw. When Kirk and Pam don't return, Jerry goes looking for them and finds the same house. Finding the blanket left behind by Pam and Kirk, he goes inside to investigate. In the kitchen there is a large chest freezer, rattling convulsively. He opens it and Pam is inside of it, turning blue. She suddenly bolts upright in at attempt to escape, but Leatherface jumps out and kills Jerry with the sledgehammer. Jerry collapses on the kitchen floor, and Leatherface hurls Pam back into the freezer, locking her inside. When Jerry doesn't return, Sally and Franklin argue about going to find him. They can't leave because Jerry has the keys to the van. Sally wants to go alone to find him because she can't manage Franklin's wheelchair through the brush, but Franklin insists on going with her. As they struggle through the dark trees, Leatherface jumps out and kills Franklin with the chainsaw. Sally runs away in horror, but Leatherface is right on her heels. Unwittingly, Sally flees to the very house where her friends have died. She locks the front door and runs upstairs, while Leatherface saws through the wooden door. In the attic, she finds two figures sitting in chairs, one of them a dead body and the other an extremely withered old man. When Leatherface breaches the door and runs up the stairs after her, Sally jumps out a second-story window and lands on grass. While Leatherface relentlessly pursues her, she runs all the way back to the gas station. When she gets there, the maniac appears to have disappeared, and she finds the old man who owns the station still there. While he goes to get his truck so they can escape, Sally is fascinated by a smoke pit with a large slab of meat in it. When the old man returns, he suddenly attacks Sally with a broom, putting a large burlap sack over her head and forcing her into the truck. As he drives away with Sally, he meets a figure in the road, it is the hitchhiker who was in the van with the kids earlier. He is apparently the son of the old man and brother to Leatherface. They take Sally inside and tie her to a chair, and when they remove the sack, she has a moment of utter horror when she and the hitchhiker recognize one another. Leatherface and the hitchhiker bring down the withered figure of "Grandpa", and in a truly horrifying moment, they slice open the tip of Sally's finger and force it into Grandpa's mouth, while he sucks on her blood. Sally is so overcome with disgust and panic that she faints. She wakes up at the dinner table where food has been served to her, sausages that she now realizes contains the flesh of human beings. A discussion begins when the hitchhiker says that grandpa was the "best killer who ever was" at the local slaughterhouse. Sally realizes the end is near when they force her onto her knees and place her head over a metal bucket, and Grandpa tries in vain to bludgeon her with a mallet. The hitchhiker, who has been holding her down, gets anxious when Grandpa can't finish her off, and he makes a grab for the hammer. Sally breaks free and pushes the men out of her way, leaping wildly through the dining room window. The sun is coming up as Sally runs down the driveway of the old house. Leatherface and the hitchhiker quickly emerge from the house to give chase, Leatherface's chainsaw revving behind her. Sally emerges onto the main road with the hitchhiker right behind her, pulling at her hair. Suddenly an eighteen-wheeler comes up from behind and runs down the hitchhiker. The driver jumps out and is confronted by the frantic Sally, with Leatherface right behind her. They climb back inside the truck while Leatherface tries to cut the door open with his chainsaw, but he is unable to cut through the steel. Emerging out the other side, Sally runs while the driver tosses a large wrench at Leatherface's head. He falls down and cuts himself, the chainsaw digging into his own leg. The driver runs out of sight as a smaller pickup truck pulls up from the other side of the road, and makes a U-turn as Leatherface gets to his feet again. The pickup stops for a second, giving Sally enough time to jump in the back. She shrieks at him to "Go! Go! Go!" just as Leatherface reaches the bed of the truck, which pulls quickly away, leaving him there. Sally, who is now covered in blood and looking completely deranged, laughs hysterically to herself as the pickup drives away from the scene. Leatherface is left back in the road, waving his chainsaw in frustration and fury at what has happened.
*Director Tobe Hooper claims to have got the idea for the film while standing in the hardware section of a crowded store. While thinking of a way to get out through the crowd, he spotted the chainsaws. *The financing for this film came from the profits of Deep Throat (film), a previous film the production company had financed. *The film was originally entitled "Headcheese", but was changed at the last minute. Alternate titles included "Leatherface" and "Stalking Leatherface". *The narrator at the beginning of the film is John Larroquette, famous for playing the Night Court character Dan Fielding. *The soundtrack contains the sounds an animal would hear inside a slaughterhouse. *The dead armadillos in the first scene after the title sequence, and the nest of daddy longlegs in the abandoned house, were found by chance when location-scouting. Outtake footage shows the former scene would originally have involved a dead dog by the roadside. *The film was shot in chronological order. *In the original DVD release, the commentary (with Gunnar Hansen and director Tobe Hooper) mentioned that the actor who played Franklin actually annoyed Marilyn Burns, and the two actors disliked each other during the filming. *On the DVD commentary Hooper states the skeletons in Leatherface's house were real human skeletons purchased from India. These bones were piled and burnt by a stagehand at the end of filming. *Actress Teri McMinn, whose character was hung up on a meat hook, was actually held up by a nylon cord that went between her legs, causing her a great deal of pain. *When Leatherface is chasing Sally (Marilyn Burns) through the bushes, she actually cut herself badly on them, and a lot of the blood on her is real. *During the dinner scene towards the end of the film, when Leatherface cuts Sally's (Marilyn Burns) finger, he actually does cut her finger. The protective cover was taken off without warning Burns, and her reaction on screen is real. *A Cue Card is showing in the background with the name "Edwin" sketched on it during the Grandpa feeding scene. *After getting into the old-age makeup, John Dugan decided that he did not ever want to go through the process again, meaning that all the scenes with him had to be filmed in the same session before he could take the makeup off. This took about 36 hours, during a heat wave where the average temperature was over 100 degrees, with a large portion of it spent filming the dinner scene, sitting in a room filled with dead animals and rotting food. *Edwin Neal (who played the hitch-hiker) said of the dinner scene, "Filming that scene was the worst time of my life... and I had been in Vietnam, with people trying to kill me, so I guess that shows how bad it was." He also said that he might kill director Tobe Hooper if he ever saw him again. *Hooper used a stunt double for Sally's leap through the window; all the same, Marilyn Burns actually hurt herself shooting the insert of her falling to the ground. *A family was actually living in the house that served as the Sawyer family house in the later half of the movie. They rented out their house to the film crew and continued to stay there during the entire shoot. Since the film was released, the location used as the Sawyer family house has changed completely. The land where the house used to stand on a hill has been cut in two for a major freeway; there is no sign there ever was a house there. The house itself has been relocated and is used as a restaurant in Kingsland, Texas. Leatherface. *The creators wanted to make Leatherface talk, but Gunnar Hansen declined, thinking it would make him seem too human. Leatherface was intended to be a subhuman character who only spoke in gibberish, his "lines" in the script having side notes indicating what he was trying to say. Tobe Hooper allowed Gunnar Hansen to develop Leatherface as he saw fit, under his supervision. Hansen decided that Leatherface was mentally retarded and never learned to talk properly, so he went to a school for the mentally challenged and watched how they moved and listened to them talk to get a feel for the character. *Leatherface's teeth were prostheses made especially for Gunnar Hansen by his dentist. *The chainsaw used in this film was a Poulan 306A, with a piece of black tape covering the Poulan logo in order to avoid a possible lawsuit. *Gunnar Hansen hit his head on doorways and other objects several times during the shoot because the Leatherface mask severely limited his peripheral vision and the 3 inch heels made his 6'4" frame too high to clear all obstacles. * Gunnar Hansen wore three inch heels so that he was taller than all the cast and had to duck to get through the doorways in the slaughterhouse. However, even in these lift-boots, Gunnar Hansen could run faster than Marilyn Burns, and thus had to do random things when chasing her through the woods in order to avoid catching her up (in one head-on shot he starts slicing up tree branches in the background). *Due to the low budget, Gunnar Hansen had only one shirt to wear as Leatherface. The shirt had been dyed, so it could not be washed; Hansen had to wear it for four straight weeks of filming in the Texas summer. By the end of the shoot no one wanted to eat lunch with Hansen because his clothing smelled so bad. *The close-up of Leatherface cutting his leg on the chainsaw was the last shot to be filmed; the actor was wearing a metal plate over his leg, which was then covered with a piece of meat and a blood bag.