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Loosely inspired by real-life serial killer Ed Gein, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is one of the most enduring franchises in horror-movie history. Centered on the chainsaw-wielding Leatherface and his disturbing penchant for eating (and wearing) human flesh, the 1974 original and its sequels and remakes have been terrifying audiences for nearly four decades.
The latest movie, from Lionsgate and director John Luessenhop, continues the story of Leatherface and his family the Sawyers while updating the saga with a glossy 3D makeover. At a recent press event, the cast — Alexandra Daddario, Dan Yeager, Tania Raymonde, Scott Eastwood and Trey Songz — sat down with Spinoff Online to discuss the franchise’s legacy.
Neither a reboot nor a reimagining, Texas Chainsaw 3D is a continuation of Tobe Hooper’s gritty classic, and even includes cameos by the original Leatherface, Gunnar Hansen, and scream queen Marilyn Burns (Sally Hardesty).
The torch, or chainsaw, was even passed to new Leatherface Dan Yeager when he met Hansen on set. “We met at the house, at the Sawyer house, and it was hours before any shooting was going on, so we just had an opportunity to walk through the house and talk about things,” Yeager recalled. “The first thing I told him, was that I studied everything ever uttered by him about the role and how he did it and ripped him off to the best of my ability.”
He said the filmmakers were all avid fans of the original movie and wanted to continue that story. “That was kind of the marching orders with this movie: Make a worthy sequel to that movie that these people worked hard on and put everything they had into, and show respect,” he said.
Footage from the original film also makes an appearance, albeit with a 3D makeover. “I think that people will really like that — just the way they manipulate the footage in 3D,” Raymonde said. “It looks really cool.”
Raymonde, who’s probably best known for her performance as the doomed daughter of Ben Linus on ABC’s Lost, plays another time-honored genre role in Texas Chainsaw 3D. “The slut of the horror movie. That’s right!” she laughed. “That was another pleasure of mine, to fulfill the iconic stereotype role of the bimbo in the horror movie.”
Alexandra Daddario of Percy Jackson fame plays Heather, the resident Final Girl, but the actress admits there is something different about her character. “She doesn’t really feel like she fits and doesn’t really feel that she belongs in the family that she’s from,” she explained. “And as the film goes on, she actually finds out that she’s Leatherface’s cousin and she’s actually related to this Sawyer family.”
Singer-turned-actor Tremaine “Trey Songz” Neverson, an admitted fan of the genre, plays Daddario’s boyfriend. “Cameron Mitchell, my agent, he was talking about the movie for a while, but I was so invested in my music and I was on tour and I had an album to finish,” he explained before sharing another concern he had about the project. “You get so comfortable in your position — in your stardom in one place, that you think it will carry over, whether you’re a good actor or not and you choose roles where the success or the failure is all reliant upon you.”
But, because the film was an ensemble piece with a young cast, Songz was intrigued, and he ultimately responded to the script. “Although there are the clichés of horror films in there, there are also a lot of things that are unlike any other horror film.” he said.
Although the genre relies heavily on identifiable character types, Scott Eastwood, son of Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood, described his character Carl as “the wild card,” and admitted he nearly passed on the film. “Initially, my reaction was no, and then I read the script and it was really good,” he said.
“It’s different than what people will expect. There’s a twist,” Daddario added. “The 2003 and the 2006 versions were great, but this is a different story than that.”
Raymonde admitted she is generally not a fan of 3D, but she appreciates how the technology was employed in Texas Chainsaw. “In our movie, the 3D doesn’t hurt your eyes,” she said. “It’s a very elegant 3D, which is kind of crazy for a horror or slasher movie, but I think that’s cool, and so in this instance, it brings you into the movie. It doesn’t take you out of it.”
When asked what it was like working opposite Leatherface and his chainsaw, the cast spoke about their experience working with newcomer Yeager.
“It was unnerving. Very unnerving,” Eastwood said. “He’s 6 feet 6 inches — he’s all of 6 feet 6 inches — and he’s just this behemoth man. And he just looks scary. Without the mask he looks scary.”
“He walked around with the chainsaw when it wasn’t required of him,” Songz laughed. “He kind of made sure that we remembered that it was a scary film.”
Yeager, who had no acting credits before landing one of the most iconic roles in horror, is now happily living out an actor’s fantasy. “It’s impossible to really process,” he said. “I get phone calls and texts: ‘Hey, I saw your billboard.’ I mean, when is that ever going to happen?”
But his first taste of fame actually occurred during filming in Louisiana, when a Starbucks employee asked the newly anointed Leatherface for an autograph. “I made this guy so happy — just by signing a cup for him,” Yeager recalled. “That’s the most extraordinary thing. It really does blow me away. I’ll never get used to it.”
Texas Chainsaw 3D opens Friday nationwide.