The Texas Chainsaw Massacre shocked moviegoers, and changed the Genre back in 1974, and it was all because of its iconic main character, Leatherface. Even now, 41 years on, and as jaded as we've become over those years, the mere sight of Leatherface is still terrifying.
Now, the man who brought the flesh-wearing maniac to life, is gone.
Gunnar Hansen died on Saturday, November 7th, at his home in Maine, from pancreatic cancer. Last year we lost Marilyn Burns, and now Gunnar, and you know what, it hurts.
How do you write about the passing of someone that you never knew personally, and make it sound sincere? To us, and to many Horror fans the world over, he was the guy that played Leatherface. We only "knew" him because of that role (and the ones he took after that, of course), but with as many nightmares as he gave us a kids, and as much as he helped to shape our imaginations, that should be enough, right?
The guy was more than a role that he played 40 long years ago though. He had friends and family who loved him. He was a writer, a documentary filmmaker, and I've yet to hear anyone say that Gunnar Hansen was anything but a sweet, kind, and gentle man, which makes his passing even harder to take.
He's the kind of guy who we'd have loved to buy a beer, chat with, and tell him thanks for scaring the living shit out of us. Just so he knew that we appreciated him, you know?
It's alright to remember him as Leatherface, and to love him for it. After all, that's how we knew him, and for what that small part of his life gave us, that's why we loved him. It's good to know though that Gunnar Hansen got to live a life in which he was so revered, respected, and loved by millions of fans the world over, us included... and not just because he played a fantastic character in a fantastic movie, four decades ago.
Sleep well, sweet prince, and may you swing that 'saw forevermore.