BY: DAKOTA DAHL
It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 50 years since THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE came out in 1974, and that it’s still pretty fucking scary. It’s also hard to believe that this goddamn pandemic is still going on, but here to keep us from actually turning into cannibals were the original cast and crew of TCM, holding a digital event where they swapped gory stories about the whole filming process. The event was split between two nights, with the cast dominating the first night and the crew dominating the second, with both events being hosted by the incomparable Joe Bob Briggs.
Assembled for this “family reunion” we had Allen Danziger, Bill Vail, Teri McMinn, Ed Neal, John Dugan, Ed Guinn and Kim Henkel. The crewmember attendees included Producer & Writer Kim Henkel pulling double duty from the night before, joined by Location Sound Ted Nicolaou, Production Sound & Music Wayne Bell, Production Manager Ron Bozman, Cinematographer Daniel Pearl and Editor J. Larry Carroll.
As soon as the respective screenings began, stories started flying. I knew I was in for a good time when we were informed that the corpse at the beginning of the film had a real human skeleton inside it (I am not claiming this is true.) Other amazing stories include Ed Neal telling viewers about the time he scared a gaggle of teenage girls in a theatre when he talked to them while in character as The Hitchhiker. I was also thrilled to learn that John Dugan, who played Grandpa, was only 19 when he got into makeup, making him, in reality, one of the youngest members of the team.
The assembled cast and crew seemed happy to see each other, and there were moments of reverence for the members of the family who had sadly passed before the event. The unanimous agreement amongst everyone is that Gunnar Hansen (the legendary figure behind Leatherface) was a total sweetheart who adorably kept banging his head on doorways because he was wearing lift shoes and a mask. There was also an almost unspoken rule that nobody was supposed to talk shit about Tobe hooper, despite everyone wanting to.
Of course, even 50 years later, the crew still hold tight to their little secrets, like what exactly is that iconic sound at the beginning. Everyone also remains, to this day, incredibly passionate about the fact that you never actually see the hook go into Pam’s back, despite audiences insisting for decades that you can see it go right through her. Go ahead, go watch it again.
One of the best parts was watching these artists shout “Oh, my favorite part is coming up!” and then everyone else falling silent to soak in a film that they’ve no doubt already seen countless times. Despite all the horror stories of the Texas heat and the rotting food and the absentee director, everyone in attendance was audibly proud to have been part of cinematic history.
I’m only capturing a sliver of the stories and a fraction of the joyous mood of this event, and luckily, you don’t need to rely on my paltry words. The TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2020 FAMILY REUNION is available for encore presentations that you can stream directly to your laptop or TV screen. If you are a fan of Tobe Hooper’s immortal classic, this is a must-see event, so grab your tickets and relive the terror with those who were there!