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[Exclusive] Writer of ‘Leatherface’ Talks Connections to Previous ‘Chainsaw’ Films

Leatherface Texas Chainsaw Massacre

The Hitchhiker (aka Nubbins Sawyer) will appear in the new prequel!

As you’re probably aware by now, the Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo-directed Leatherface, a prequel to Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chain Saw Massacre, is complete and ready for release; unfortunately, it seems that Lionsgate has cold feet about, well, actually releasing it. And that’s why we launched the #WeWantLeatherface campaign over on Twitter this past weekend.

The goal? To show Lionsgate that we want to see the movie. To hopefully lessen their fears about releasing it. We encourage you to use the hashtag and spread the word.

One of the main supporters of the campaign is our friend Seth M. Sherwood, who wrote the script for Leatherface. We wanted to work together on getting the word out there about the hashtag and its goal, and that led to a conversation about the film itself. As Sherwood explained to us, he set out to pay tribute to all the films in the Chainsaw franchise with Leatherface (as we exclusively reported just last week, we will meet Ted Hardesty, the father of Sally and Franklin), which leads into Hooper’s original classic and explores the masked maniac’s origin story.

Sherwood told us:

When I was writing Leatherface, I tried really hard to make it feel like part of the franchise on the whole— which is actually not easy when you consider continuity was pretty loose between the original trilogy and two remakes that followed it. Chainsaw films aren’t exactly a perfectly shared universe, but at the same time, they are all undeniably Chainsaw at their heart. To tap into that I tried to pay subtle homage to all the films in some way; I wanted to tap into some of the key ideas and tropes so that it would feel familiar, but at the same time, go in a different direction.

He dug deep into some of the in-tribute plot elements:

Tying to the original was the easiest— in terms of continuity I needed to dovetail my story in that general direction. My take on Leatherface was inspired directly by how Tobe and Gunnar described his mindset (or lack thereof). The Sawyer Farm is a key location. These connections were more literal.

From Chainsaw 2 I borrowed a few things. Obviously, the character names. Drayton, Nubbins, the Sawyer surname— were all discovered in the sequel. Mainly though, the idea of a corrupt, mentally unstable Texas Ranger on a vendetta against the Sawyers gave birth to Hartman, the real villain of my story. Like Lefty, he’s out for revenge against the Sawyers over something they did to his family. The character Clarice started as a pretty clear Chop Top homage, though along the way we decided to develop her into being more original. That said, when you see her, you can see a little of that DNA in there.

The original Leatherface, Chainsaw 3, took the idea of the backwoods isolation of the original and exploded it tenfold. I always think of the locations of this film— the scrub brush filled badlands and remote roadside outposts as feeling like another world— a dark fairy tale land in some way. To be reminded, no, we’re just lost in Texas, is awesome. I filled my story with similar locations to hopefully capture a similar vibe.

Sherwood also revealed an interesting connection to Texas Chainsaw 3D:

While I didn’t find any thematic inspiration from 3D, this is from the same team, so we decided early on that we needed some ties. Those come mainly from using names to establish a little continuity. The corrupt Mayor in 3D is the son of Stephen Dorff’s character. The cameo by Marilyn Burns as Sawyer matriarch Verna is the character played now by Lili Taylor.

For obvious reasons, Sherwood explained that the film will not tie into the remake or its prequel, both of which he intentionally “steered well away from so as not to seem similar.”

In Leatherface, he added, we will find out how Leatherface became a hulking mute:

Leatherface is very much about identity. Gunnar Hansen said that Leatherface was devoid of identity beyond doing what his family told him, or what his mask might define. Instead of starting Jed Sawyer as a gibbering simpleton, I was more interested in taking somebody that could almost pass as normal and then explore how they could be reduced to nothing. Leatherface doesn’t know who he is, he doesn’t remember his family— but the saw becomes integral to restoring that… because the saw IS family!

The current incarnation of Leatherface is rated R “for strong bloody violence, disturbing images, language and some sexuality/nudity.

In Leatherface, Jessica Madsen plays one of four inmates (Sam Coleman, Sam Strike, James Bloor) who escape from a mental hospital. One of them becomes the title character and iconic slasher. The quartet kidnap a young nurse (played by Vanessa Grasse) and take her on a road trip from hell. Along the way, they are pursued by an equally deranged lawman (Stephen Dorff) out for revenge. The Conjuring‘s Lili Taylor plays Mother Sawyer.

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