The saw is most definitely family in brand new prequel Leatherface.
Now available exclusively through DirecTV, with a traditional VOD release to follow on October 20, Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo’s Leatherface returns to the continuity of the original franchise, taking place before both the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre and 2013’s Texas Chainsaw 3D.
The events of Leatherface are set in two different time periods, kicking off 18 years before Tobe Hooper’s classic (1955) and then jumping ahead to just 8 years before Sally Hardesty and friends crossed paths with the twisted family (1965). One of the coolest things about the film, penned by Seth M. Sherwood, is that it’s loaded with fun ties to the franchise’s past, most of which go weirdly unacknowledged or only mentioned in passing.
To make sure you know exactly who’s who in Leatherface, we’ve put together a handy little guide that points out all of the fun character connections. We think you’ll get a whole lot more enjoyment out of the film if you’re armed with this knowledge going in…
Early on in the film, we meet a young man and woman whose names we never learn; they appear very briefly in the film, confined to a single scene that plays during the opening credits. Only by looking on IMDb would you realize that the male character, played by Julian Kostov, is actually Ted Hardesty… the father of Sally and Franklin!
Writer Sherwood explained the subtle connection to us recently.
“Yes, Ted Hardesty is Sally’s dad,” he told us months ago. “There was a later scene that went into it, but it was cut for budget reasons. I don’t know if we ever hear Ted’s last name in the movie as it is– but he’s there briefly. I mean, Grandpa Hardesty’s farm was in walking distance of the Sawyers, sooooo…”
Eighteen years before Sally and Franklin arrived at the Sawyer house, their father had his own experience with the family as a young man. Pretty cool!
Easily the most bizarre character in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is Grandpa, an ancient corpse who feeds on human blood. Grandpa Sawyer appears in most films throughout the franchise, but Leatherface introduces us to him as a living, breathing old man for the very first time. The film even shows us his weapon of choice, serving to explain his bizarre role in the infamous dinner scene in the 1974 classic.
Referred to as “Cook” and “Old Man” in the original film, we learned in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 that Leatherface’s oldest brother is named Drayton Sawyer. The memorable character was played by Jim Siedow in the first two films, with Bill Moseley taking over the role for his brief appearance in Texas Chainsaw 3D. Drayton is back in Leatherface, giving us a glimpse into what he was like as a much younger man.
Hint: he was just as sick and twisted back then.
Another thing that Leatherface takes from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is the name Nubbins Sawyer, who is of course the same character known as “The Hitchhiker” in the original. We catch up with Nubbins at two different points in the film, first in 1955 as a child and then later in 1965, played by Dejan Angelov. The couple scenes that Nubbins appears in are darkly lit, but if you look closely you can spot the facial birthmark that identifies him as the sadistic character Edwin Neal played in the original film.
Verna Sawyer-Carson, the matriarch of the family, is played by The Conjuring star Lili Taylor in Leatherface, and the character has a fairly sizable role in the film. As we learned in Texas Chainsaw 3D, Verna is the mother of Leatherface and the grandmother of Heather Miller; in a fun little tribute, Verna was played in that film by the original Sally, Marilyn Burns.
Leatherface is really the first time we’ve ever gotten to know Verna, which is another little treat for longtime fans of the Chainsaw franchise.
The connections found in Leatherface aren’t just in regards to the Sawyer family; Stephen Dorff’s Hal Hartman, though never outright mentioned in the film, is the father of Chainsaw 3D‘s Burt Hartman (Paul Rae). Burt was one of the men who burnt down the Sawyer family home immediately after the events of the first film, and he later became mayor and waged war on the family. Dorff’s Hal Hartman is out for revenge in Leatherface, stopping at nothing, like his son later would, to put an end to the family once and for all.
As Sherwood explained to us, Hartman was also inspired by Dennis Hopper’s character in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.
“From Chainsaw 2 I borrowed a few things. Obviously, the character names,” he explained. “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.”
Similarly, new character Clarice was inspired by Chainsaw 2‘s Chop Top.