Sending victims running outrageously through the woods, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre is absolutely filled with gruesome, violent deaths. Leatherface is a monster with a chainsaw…but he is also a monster without it. Leatherface’s mask alone is enough to inspire fear in any victim. This is because Leatherface dons masks made of human flesh, made from the faces of his victims. So what type of skills does Leatherface require to make his human face flesh masks? How much experience did he need before he started pumping out his high-quality grisly masks?
Horror Enthusiast has dug around in some of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre body pits to sift around and find the true origin behind the skills and design of the Leatherface mask.
What Does Leatherface Need to Make a Mask?
Slaughtering people correctly (both to murder them and skin their faces off), requires the work of a good butcher. The mask requires serious tailoring skills. Sewing the mask together requires a steady hand and some fine needlework.
That said, Leatherface has a ton of experience when it comes to being a butcher. In fact, being a butcher is all he has ever known, career-wise. On top of his cattle-butchering experience…he has been butchering stranded people for more than 40 years! Of course, the more people he butchers, the more faces he skins, the more masks he sews…the better he gets at the whole thing.
Technically, both the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Leatherface alike require a steady flow of victims through their abandoned town. Without a steady flow of victims, they cannot eat, but more importantly, Leatherface cannot make new masks. New victims mean new masks.
Ultimately there is no shortage of victims rolling through the Sawyer house.
How Does Leatherface Create His Mask?
Although the first two movies do not share much information about the origin of the Leatherface mask, the third movie in the series, Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990), is rather revealing. In fact, R.A. Mihailoff (who played leatherface in this movie), can be seen right from the start making a new mask for himself.
Step 1: Leatherface starts by dragging his victim into his little butchery area, usually either the Sawyer house basement or his room. Sometimes the room is hidden, other times it even has a window (allowing some victims to witness the atrocities from outside the house).
Step 2: Leatherface skins the face off the victim. It is important to note that Sometimes the victim is alive, even during the start of the skinning phase. Yet other times they have first bled out on a meat hook or froze in a meat freezer. Most of the time, they are already dead by the hands of Leatherface or a family member.
Step 3: The next step is sewing the mask together, as it typically requires a variety of slices to skin a face clean off a victim. The mask is essentially finished after it is sewn together, giving it a “homemade” kind of feel.
Leatherface has many personalities, based upon the mask he may wear. Sometimes he is sympathetic, sometimes matriarchal, and other times, he is a stone cold hunter! Some psychologists have speculated he uses the masks to change identity as a way of fulfilling himself.
How Was the Leatherface Mask Made in Real Life?
Supposedly, the original Leatherface mask from the first movie was made out of a combination of fiberglass and latex. This interesting combo for material creates an almost see-through look and it has been said to be very fragile. The fiberglass was essential though, as it created a very real “dead skin” kind of look. The mask looks exactly like dried out, dead skin.
What Influenced the Real Leatherface Mask
A lot of the influence behind the real mask used in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and subsequent films in the franchise, came from the real life trophies of Ed Gein, the grave robbing corpse mutilator. Of the many items found in Gein’s home included a mask made from the face of a human being. In fact, his uniquely grotesque home furnishings and horror decor, all made from human bones and skin, also inspired the look for the inside of the Sawyer residence.
Gein did supposedly actually wear these masks, spawning the horror icon we know today as Leatherface from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies.
Final Words About Leatherface
Leatherface loves to wear different masks throughout the movies. In fact, he changes masks frequently, not just from movie to movie, but also wearing many masks sometimes within a single movie. He has also worn the mask of his victim in the same movie as he has killed them. For Leatherface, the thrill does not stop at simply slaughtering his victims, but also in butchering them, skinning their face off, and dancing around with his chainsaw wearing a mask of their face.
Tritone’s love of horror and mystery began at a young age. Growing up in the 80’s he got to see some of the greatest horror movies play out in the best of venues, the drive-in theater. That’s when his obsession with the genre really began—but it wasn’t just the movies, it was the games, the books, the comics, and the lore behind it all that really ignited his obsession. Tritone is a published author and continues to write and write about horror whenever possible.