Feature: Who Do You Think You AAARGH! - A TEXAS CHAINSAW Family History

PrintE-mail Written by Joel Harley

Texas Chainsaw Massacre Family History

'The saw', as the family motto goes, 'is family'. And what a family. For years, Leatherface and his cannibal clan have terrorised rural Texas and its innocent denizens. But how well do we know Bubba (or Junior, or Thomas) Sawyer (or Slaughter, or Hewitt?) and his family? As Leatherface gears up for his return in The Texas Chainsaw 3D, we take a gander at the Sawyer family tree. A word of warning: with families so inbred, these things can get a bit convoluted...

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

Texas Chain Saw Massacre

The Sawyer family in the very first recorded massacre were a family of five, residing in their dilapidated but cosy family home. Drayton 'Cook' Sawyer was the eldest of four brothers, owner of a local gas station and family cook (hence the nickname). He was the most outwardly normal Sawyer, although with such competition, that wasn't a particularly difficult achievement. Especially given that Nubbins 'Hitchhiker' Sawyer - the middle brother - was absolutely insane. While his twin brother Chop-Top was in Vietnam, Hitchhiker was the family breadwinner. Unfortunately, his victims had an unfortunate habit of escaping, leaving Drayton, as the most sensible Sawyer, to clean up after him. Childlike Bubba 'Leatherface' Sawyer was the most infamous member of the family, killing the victims and preparing the meat for Drayton to whip up into a lovely chili. They lived with their wrinkly grandpa, a former slaughterman and probable mass murderer. Grandpa was mostly inert, but showed enough life to suck the occasional finger or hit someone with a hammer. For a while, the Sawyers committed their crimes successfully and unimpeded, until one of Hitchhiker's victims made a particularly good job of escaping the family's clutches. Although Sally Hardesty was destined to see out the rest of her days in a mental institution, she at least managed to kill Nubbins during her escape. He was rendered a piece of roadkill, and would only return in later movies as a skeleton, dispensing grenades to Drayton or carried around by Chop-Top. At least he was a lot quieter during those later days.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

With their crimes uncovered, Drayton, Leatherface and Chop-Top (since returned from Vietnam) fled to a different area of Texas. Drayton took his chili on tour, winning many a cook-out with his special recipe (did someone say Soylent Green?). Chop-Top was Nubbins' twin, and had certainly inherited the family mouth. In addition to his severe case of verbal diarrhoea, Chop-Top had the nasty habit of picking at his grisly skull wound (obtained in 'Nam) with a heated metal coat hanger. He was a fan of modern music and dressed in colourful ‘70s clothes and a nifty Sonny Bono wig. Again, Drayton was left picking up the pieces when his brothers attracted too much attention with one of their kills (in this case, slaughtering a pair of teenagers and kidnapping the DJ who had recorded the evidence). Drayton and Chop-Top were themselves killed when a relative of one of their victims – Lieutenant 'Lefty' Enright (Dennis Hopper!) came looking to avenge his niece and nephew's deaths. Presumably it was Sally's death he was most distressed by – after all, Franklin Hardesty was as annoying as any screeching Sawyer. “Ka plooey,” said Drayton, popping the pin from a nearby hand grenade. Ka plooey indeed. The explosion killed not only Lieutenant Enright, but himself and Chop-Top too.

Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III

Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III

Somehow, Leatherface survived to see another day, and took Grandpa with him too. Old Gramps might actually have been dead at this point, since we never actually saw the old husk move in the third Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but the family kept him around anyway, alive or dead. It was a larger family unit than he'd lived with before, but one which seemed to deeply care about one another. The family who slays together, stays together, after all. Edward 'Tex' Sawyer was the outwardly normal Sawyer this time around, a charming, handsome hitchhiker who dressed like a cowboy and looked quite a lot like Aragorn from Lord of the Rings. He had a close bond with brother 'Tinker' who had a hook for a hand and drove a pickup truck. The most demented Sawyer here was Alfredo, attendant at a local gas station and purveyor of urinating women (through his peephole in the ladies' toilets). Maybe the explanation for the warmer family environment was thanks to the Sawyer contingent of girls – Mama Sawyer was the family matriarch, while they also kept a little girl in the house too – allegedly Leatherface's daughter. Mama and all of the menfolk but Leatherface were killed during yet another escape by a victim. In this case, Mama, Alfredo, Tink and Grandpa (if not dead already) were shot to death and Tex was burned to a crisp. Leatherface and his daughter survived the massacre, although the little girl was never seen or heard from again. She was lucky to escape the next instalment.

The Next Generation: Boldly Go Away

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation

The rest of his relatives dead, Leatherface had little option but to go and live with the black sheep of the family. He found himself living with the Slaughters, led by loudmouth trucker Vilmer and his animatronic leg. With his brothers gone, Leatherface must have decided the time was ripe to give himself a makeover, since in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation he had become a cross dresser and a useless idiot who lets Bridget Jones tell him what to do. The other family members consist of W.E Slaughter (mentioned in the previous film – supposedly having perished in a gas chamber for the family crimes) and Darla, Vilmer's spouse. She was the 'normal' member of the family, although that really wasn't saying much. Grandpa was back too apparently, named Victor and as comatose as ever. This branch of the Sawyers/Slaughters were perhaps the most insane of all – working for the Illuminati, maybe being from outer space and possibly having had a hand in the assassination of President Kennedy. W.E was (probably) killed when Vilmer bashed him over the head with a hammer during one of his rages. Vilmer himself was (also probably) killed when he was smashed over the head with an aeroplane. Leatherface remains at large. Hopefully now he will have gained some self-respect since Bridget Jones told him to “sit the fuck down”.

The Hewitts

In an alternate ‘70s Texas, another disfigured young misfit could also be found indulging a chainsaw fetish. Thomas 'Leatherface' Hewitt was the adoptive child of the Hewitts, found abandoned in a dumpster by Luda May. He would grow up working at the slaughterhouse where he was born and also dumped. When his boss closed the business down, Leatherface didn't take redundancy too well. He brutally battered his boss to death with a sledgehammer, setting in motion a killing spree that would go on to be one of the most infamous crimes in the annals of American history. He lived with his extended adoptive family. Most notable was Charlie Hewitt, who murdered the local town Sheriff to take both the name and title of Hoyt. Hoyt would indulge and encourage Leatherface's nastiest tendencies, and introduced the family to the joys of cannibalism, a practice he discovered and found to be extremely pleasant during his time serving in the Korean War. He lived with his mother Luda May, brother/nephew Leatherface and legless uncle Monty (his lower extremities chopped off by Hoyt during a particularly messy emergency surgery). Frequent visitors were Tea Lady Hewitt (a morbidly obese lady who likes tea) and her daughter Henrietta, who lived in a nearby trailer. The most normal member of the family was this time young Jedidiah Hewitt, who went against the family tendency for cruel violence and actually helped one of their victims to escape. Hoyt was killed during this escape attempt, repeatedly run over with a very large truck. Despite having his arm lopped off, Leatherface remains at large. Since it's unlikely we'll ever see a return to the Hewitt family universe, it's likely that he will stay that way for a very long time.

Leatherface and Drayton Sawyer are due to return in The Texas Chainsaw 3D, the latter played by Bill Moseley. Despite the worst attempts at (family) tree surgery by Matthew McConaughey and Platinum Dunes, the bloodline remains as strong as ever. Only time will tell who has survived, and what might be left of them.

TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D opens in wide release January 9th.


Grab yourself a copy of our TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE special by clicking on Leatherface below...


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