Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Shocking Truth (2000)

Director: David Gregory

Running Time: 73 Minutes

My review of Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Shocking Truth was first published at Bloody Good Screen.

In the opening moments of his documentary about The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, director David Gregory appropriately pays respect to the 1974 classic as a title crawl about the films production is read out in the vein of John Larroquette’s foreboding narration. The following 72-minute runtime showcase the cast and crew being candid about the tough and grimy times which occurred in making this horror masterpiece. 

A historical context is offered, gazing at how films like Night of the Living Dead and The Last House on the Left set precedents which allowed Tobe Hooper’s classic to flourish at midnight screenings and drive-in theatres. Some of the widely told anecdotes are repeated here, such as how the sweltering conditions and a budget unable to cover washing the on-screen clothes made the shoot an ordeal. It’s pleasant to hear those stories again alongside tales not as well-known, such as how the crew found animal bones to make the film’s nightmare-inducing furniture. 

It’s always interesting to peek behind the curtain and discover how the effects were realised, which makes discussions about the meat-hook scene so enthralling. Also revealed are humorous tales, such as Marilyn Burns recounting her happiness at finishing the shoot and never having to wear the unwashed clothes again, only to be told the final shot had to be done again. Most eye-opening is how the cast and crew were paid very little due to multiple companies having a financial interest in the film, and one such investor reportedly being a known mafia company that ripped them off. 

After focusing on the filming and release of the feature, the time is taken to delve into the first three sequels which followed. The cast and crew talk candidly about the behind-the-scenes difficulties which plagued any hopes and dreams for these films, with a recurrent issue being the studios refusing to pay Gunnar Hansen a reasonable sum to return as Leatherface. It’s a fine point to end this documentary on, which showcases the enduring legacy birthed by scrappy filmmaking poured into this horror classic. It’s a shame there are instances of outdated language and a distasteful choice to queue-up real-life footage of Nazis with discussions about BBFC censorship, as they’re unfortunate blemishes on a fascinating documentary.