Sadly, Gunnar Hansen, author and actor best known for his iconic portrayal of Leatherface in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), died Saturday at his home in Maine. It was pancreatic cancer. He was 68 years old.
Hansen would intermittently return to acting, starting with 1988's Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers. He would also star in 1995's Mosquito and, honestly, those are the only other two of his films I've seen or heard of. His filmography seems to be full of small films with low profiles, the kinds of things you act in if you believe in the project/filmmakers.
I just rewatched Texas Chain Saw for about the 100th time a few weeks ago during October and it still maintains this power as a raw, terrifying series of events that just escalates into insanity. By the time Sally is escaping and Leatherface is dancing with his chainsaw I've got chills, as the terror becomes almost unbearable and the madness is palpable. It truly is the greatest horror film ever made, and Hansen is a big part of why it's so indelible.
If you happen to live in the Portland, Oregon area, there will be a screening of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre at the wonderful Hollywood Theatre with stars from the film, Edwin Neal, Teri McMinn, and John Dugan, in attendance on November 14th. It's part of the Living Dead Horror Convention in town Nov. 13-15 (for more info on that, go here) and while it was for sure going to be a special screening before, it will most likely now take on a more somber and reverent tone with Hansen's passing. For fans of the film, it might be an event to not miss.
Rest in Peace, Gunnar, and keep dancing.
|drawing by Nathan Thomas Milliner|
|Hansen behind the scenes on The Demon Lover (1977)|