The true story of the 1974 murders in Travis County
Even among educated fans who should know better, I still hear erroneous information touted as facts concerning the creation of one of the greatest Horror movies ever made, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. In Carnie-speak, a “smart” is a patron or fan differentiated from a “mark” in that the former is in on the gaffe, knows that the deformed baby in the jar is made of rubber, for example, or knows that the games are rigged. Well today’s movie fans are all “smarts,” thanks to the Internet, but even smarts are still getting it wrong.
They will concede that TCM was inspired by the case of Ed Gein, Wisconsin’s grave-robbing cannibal killer. Gein did wear a mask fashioned of human skin, although it is unknown whether or not he ever wielded a chainsaw. Gein did make furniture out of human remains. But some fans insist that Tobe Hooper also based TCM on the case of Bob Kleason, who chopped up two Mormon missionaries with an electric bandsaw. This isn’t possible, since the murders took place one week AFTER TCM premiered. What’s surprising is that no one has tried to argue that Kleason was “inspired” to commit his crimes by TCM. Life imitates art, they say—but we don’t know if Kleason ever even watched TCM. I remain dubious.