5 Faces Of Leatherface (And What Your Most Frightening Says About You)
5. The Monster Mamma - The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
"Look what your brother did to the door!" The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) It's impossible to discuss Leatherface's character without mentioning the role he plays within his demented family unit. After all, the saw is family. In the original film, the cannibalistic clan from Texas is comprised entirely of men: three brothers and their grandpa. Naturally, as they are meant to be an aggressive perversion of the classic 50s nuclear family, all that testosterone is in need of some calming, coolheaded motherly affection. Unfortunately, instead of a Leave it to Beaver type figure, all they could muster was a sweaty, mumbling man dressed up in an old woman's face and frilly apron. Although Leatherface can do a disturbingly accurate rendition of a pig's squeal, I don't think he knows the first thing about baking apple pies. Yet, that is the role he fills. While the other "breadwinning" brothers are out in the world, Leatherface stays behind in the house to cook, clean and prepare meals (albeit by murdering and removing the skin from nosy hippies). When his brothers return, he is reprimanded for the poor state of the house, as if he is stuck in an abusive relationship with a particularly deplorable hubby. One almost feels sorry for him, despite his acts of viciousness, as he mistreated and beaten by the men. Even his high-pitched cries sound like an estimation of tormented femininity in a house void of any truly feminine presence. It's a deeply disturbing depiction of the insidious decay of the family unit - a heteronormative nightmare. The chaotic storm of gender subversion that Leatherface exudes in this film carries with it the potential for many anxieties to be stirred within you. You may relate primarily to the terror of an abused or abusive mother, or perhaps the terror of no mother at all and the inadequacy of filling that void. You could relate to the oppressed femininity not only of women, but also the femininity of men. If you're more of a macho type, you might find the way Leatherface is "feminized" to be one of his most disturbing attributes. If you expect to soon become a mother figure, then Leatherface can certainly embody your anxieties about that as well. All in all, there's a plethora of paranoia this character unveils for you to enjoy and explore. This emphasis on monstrous maternity makes sense if you take a look at the source material. The serial killer Ed Gein, on which Leatherface was based, had a morbid obsession with his mother. As a side note, the Norman Bates character from Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960), who was also inspired by Gein, exploits the monster mama in a different way with incestuous necrophilia, repressed sexuality, and an overbearing mother. The implications of which are much different than in Texas, despite both being linked back to Gein.
I have a keen, almost obsessive fascination with the macabre. It has lead me from a quiet life growing up in a small town to where I am now; creating horrific works about horrific things in many different mediums including films, short stories and essays. I live life by a simple motto: learn to like the dark, cause eventually, it'll come for all of us (lightening flashes and thunder claps)... but it ain't so bad.