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Gunnar Hansen pulls the mask off Leatherface in 'Chain Saw Confidential'

Gunnar Hansen played Leatherface in the 1974 horror classic
Gunnar Hansen played Leatherface in the 1974 horror classic "The Texas Chainsaw Masterpiece." His new memoir is called "Chain Saw Confidential."
John Rabe

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For actor Gunnar Hansen, who played the iconic Leatherface monster, filming "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" wasn't any fun. Sure, the movie went on to become a horror classic, but back in the '70s when Hansen was filming with director Tobe Hooper in the stifling Texas summer, it was a lot of grueling, sometimes 26-hour days. 

Early on in filming, Hooper created tension between his actors. "He told the other actors that I was a loner and not very friendly and did not like people, so to leave me alone," Hansen says. "It made me feel like Frankenstein after a while because nobody would talk to me." 

But Hooper, along with his co-writer Kim Henkel and editor Larry Carroll, were willing to go a little too far to get the movie they wanted. 

"This was a different animal.There wasn't anything like it. The closest thing was 'Night of the Living Dead,' but it was not like what the other horror films were at the time; they'd done nothing like it. We knew this was really, really different. That was one of the reasons I think people hated 'Texas Chain Saw Massacre,' because they felt like we had really done something." --Film Editor Larry Carroll from "Chain Saw Confidential" 

Sometimes, the set of "Chain Saw" was downright dangerous. "Tobe [Hooper] wanted the saw live and fully functional because he wanted to hear it bind down," Hansen says. "We were just too ignorant to know any better."

But exhausting, dangerous filming conditions aside, there's no denying the influence "Chain Saw" would have on the horror genre and culture in general. 

"...'Chain Saw' changed something fundamental in horror — good no longer always overcomes evil. The monster was not destroyed. As an audience we were not safe in that respect, either. The movie was nihilistic, and it allowed many others after it to be." -- Leatherface actor Gunnar Hansen from "Chain Saw Confidential"  

Gunnar Hansen will make a number of appearances while he's here in LA (including one Friday):