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Slasher Summer: Leatherface's Top 10 Most Intense Moments

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Saw in the air like he just don't care
What sets Leatherface apart from the other horror icons of the era is that he never becomes a supernatural villain. He is human, technically speaking, and though he's enormous, mentally deficient, and rabidly homicidal, he never steps out of the realm of the terrifyingly possible. Therefore, to be in the same league as Michael Myers, Freddy Kreuger, Jason Vorhees, and the rest, he needs to be a little extra intense. Like the chainsaw he weilds so often, he doesn't do subtle, and he doesn't show mercy. In all of his movies (not counting The Next Generation, in which he is, shall we say, not very menacing), he is always strong, brutal, and surprisingly fast, like a Great White Shark at a feeding frenzy.

What follows are his most memorable moments, which also happen to be the moments at which he is the most intense. None of the other icons can match him on sheer force of will, and of all the franchises we're examining this summer, his is by far the most viscerally disturbing. That is why it is fitting we look at Leatherface in terms of intensity. To make this list, the moment doesn't have to contain an actual kill (although it usually will), but it does have to be borderline traumatic in how memorable, vivid, and violent it is. As with the other lists, we're looking for how iconic Leatherface can be, no matter whose face he happens to be wearing. Also, for clarity's sake, we're looking strictly at scenes involving Leatherface himself. There are many other great and intense moments in the series that don't involve Leatherface (including almost every scene in which R. Lee Ermey toys with someone), but today, we're focusing on the guy with the mask made of human skin.

Before we begin, I'll go ahead and give an honorable mention to what is probably the most iconic thing Leatherface has ever done: the "chainsaw dance" at the end of the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. It may not be one of the most intense moments, but it comes at the end of the most harrowing twenty minutes ever put to film and it encapsulates everything that Leatherface represents in that it is recklessly violent, loud, inexplicable, and terrifying.


#10.
BEHIND THE MUSIC
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2
#10.
BEHIND THE MUSIC
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2

While trying to get Chop Top Sawyer out of her radio studio without luck, DJ Stretch stands in front of the open door to a darkened music vault, just as Chop Top flicks the lights on and Leatherface charges out of the shadows, chainsaw at full blast. It's one of the best jump scares in the whole series, even though it doesn't logistically make sense that the chainsaw would come on so suddenly without being properly started. As with most of his attacks, it is followed by a chase, and when Leatherface finally has Stretch cornered, there is another intense moment that is also one of the strangest shifts in tone you'll ever witness. With the chainsaw becoming an obvious sexual analogue, Leatherface pauses as he holds it between Stretch's legs. It is bizarre and funny, but still frightening, and it tells you pretty much everything you need to know about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.


#9.
GET IT, "BAILEY"?
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
#9.
GET IT, "BAILEY"?
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning

There is a brief moment about halfway through The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning where it almost looks like our unfortunate young heroes might make it out of the Hewitts' grasp alive. One of the girls, Bailey, manages to get in a tow truck and starts driving away, but before she can get far, Leatherface catches up to her with a hay hook, swings the weapon into Bailey's shoulder, and yanks her from the truck. He then drags her screaming body away, back to the house. It's teeth-grindingly violent, but it's also the turning point of the film, after which it is all too clear how it's all going to end. What's worse is that it's only the beginning of Bailey's physical torture, and she isn't mercifully killed until near the end, after enduring all manner of horrors off camera that include having her teeth removed.


#8.
DYING TO GET AWAY
Texas Chainsaw
Texas Chainsaw
#8.
DYING TO GET AWAY
Texas Chainsaw
Texas Chainsaw

After discovering that Leatherface has pulled a true Ed Gein and unearthed his mother's corpse about midway through 2013's Texas Chainsaw, Heather is chased outside by the chainsaw-weilding maniac. There, she finds the dead woman's empty coffin and for some reason decides that it would be the perfect place to hide. Maybe she's just trying to save time for her burial. There are many ways this idiotic plan could have gone awry, but Leatherface always takes the direct approach. Not fooled by Heather's ruse, he starts the chainsaw and slips it through the casket, towards Heather, who is now helplessly trapped within. This is one of the only original ideas of the movie, and it deserves credit for capturing multiple fears at once: claustrophobia, being buried alive, and of course, evisceration. Unfortunately, Heather actually survives this, though the 3D effects might kill audience members in the first few rows of the theater.


#7.
VERNON KILLS A CAR
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2
#7.
VERNON KILLS A CAR
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2

In the opening scenes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, two incredibly annoying road trippers are prank calling a local Texas radio station when they happen to get on the wrong side of the Sawyer clan. Chop Top Sawyer is driving a Chevy pickup truck while the two road trippers are driving a puny Mercedes-Benz 380. As the two vehicles cross an impossibly long overpass--the truck driving backwards alongside the Benz--Leatherface pops out of the bed of the truck, wearing the corpse of Vernon Sawyer (the creepy hitchhiker from the original film) while weilding his trademark weapon. What follows are the panicked screams and angry shouts of the two idiots, followed by the systematic shredding of their car by Leatherface's chainsaw. Eventually, the driver gets the top of his head sawed clean off, leading to an inevitable crash. This sequence is balls-to-the-wall nuts, conceptually dubious (I'm pretty sure the Benz could easily outrun a Chevy truck going in reverse), and a little funny (especially when you see the ludicrous little fountains of blood spurting out of the dead guy's cranium), but it's also remarkably disturbing.


#6.
READY OR NOT
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
#6.
READY OR NOT
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

The climax of 2003's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre sees our heroine, Erin, fleeing with her injured friend, Morgan, as Leatherface races behind them. Eventually, the two youths come to an abandoned shack and choose to hide, Morgan behind a propped door and Erin on the other side of a wall. This leads to a good moment of suspense as Leatherface rushes in and starts sniffing around for his prey. Naturally, he finds Erin and quickly gets her against the floor as he starts his chainsaw and prepares to do his thing, but Morgan mans up and rushes Leatherface. The chainsaw falls to the floor, still running, and spins haphazardly mere inches from Erin's face. Erin escapes, but Morgan gets hung from a light fixture and sliced in two. The cat-and-mouse continues at a slaughterhouse, with Erin going so far as to hide inside a hanging cow carcass. Erin actually wins, too, jumping out at Leatherface from within a locker and successfully doing more damage to the maniac than anyone else in the entire franchise: she chops off his friggin arm with a butcher knife! Now that is a serious game of hide-and-seek.

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-e. magill 7/20/2017

THE UNAPOLOGETIC GEEK'S
SLASHER SUMMER:
  • The Halloween Reviews
  • Michael Myers' Top 10 Best Kills
  • Halloween's Top 10 Finest Moments
  • The Nightmare on Elm Street Reviews
  • Freddy's Top 10 Best Nightmares
  • The Friday the 13th Reviews
  • Jason's Top 10 Best Kills
  • Video Game Review: Friday the 13th: The Game
  • The Texas Chainsaw Reviews
  • Leatherface's Top 10 Most Intense Moments
  • The Child's Play Reviews
  • Chucky's Top 10 Best Kills
  • The Hellraiser Reviews
  • How to Make a Slasher Flick