I would love to write out my thoughts on this, but I really don’t have a ton of time to do it justice. I feel like I could almost write a book on the subject or at least a really good essay, but I will spitball some thoughts.
If we just look at the Slaughter/Sawyer family it is a family entirely made up of men. The matriarch (Grandma) has long since wasted away and any traditional feminine influence with her. Her skeleton rots away upstairs to remind us that the family is completely ruled by primitive base masculinity.
With the absence of any kind femininity these people only take pleasure in killing and torture (and eating). There is no threat of sex in the film because for the family sex is dead.The only climax can come by killing. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is an oddly sexless film (especially for a 70s exploitation picture). Think of the scene with the Cook (the oldest brother) when he has Sally tied up in the truck and is bringing her back to the house. You can almost see him fighting some minor flash of morality with him trying to be polite and kind to Sally, but can’t help but hit her with a broom handle. We see him giggle and smile, truly the only time he looks happy in the film. In other films of the genre we would get a gross sleazy male gazy pan all over Sally’s body or the Cook would physically run his hands over Sally to remind us of the threat of powerful male sex, but this doesn’t happen. Sally does not even exist in the shot, she is completely off screen. The only thing that exists of Sally is her scream in the scene and that’s the only that gives this man any pleasure. In the family politic of the family Slaughter/Sawyer the eclipse of masculinity renders these males sexually impotent. Though the removal of sex makes them that much more strange and dangerous.
Leatherface (the youngest) operates free of gender. True, Leatherface is still ruled by this masculine supernova, but he is able to be whatever is needed for the family. In the film you actually see Leatherface as his “female” persona more than his more traditionally masculine persona (That said, he does most of his damage when the male persona is slipped on). Once Sally is returned to the house by the Cook, Leatherface is first seen in the “Mother” persona and doing traditional feminine things; cooking, preparing dinner, wearing traditional feminine clothing. Later when the “dinner scene” happens Leatherface is more dolled up and is his “hostess” persona with make-up and pearls. It is interesting to see that family never pokes fun or attempts to take away any power from Leatherface when he is in these “feminine” roles. Strangely progressive. Yet, these “feminine” roles are still perverted through a masculine lens and never allowed to truly be feminine. Leatherface seems to know a role needs to be filled and does their best to fill it instinctively (lizard brain).
(I can and should keep going. This is truly just surface level stuff, but work calls)
My only goal is to collect every issue of the comic book Critters.
Tor Johnson is, of course, famous from Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space. I’m not sure that he ever acted in anything else, which is more or less the point of this strip.
(Heavy Metal issue #90, September 1984 - Page 32 HM’s Star Dissections by Friedman)
He was in 30 films, including Bride of the Monster, Night of the Ghouls and The Beast of Yucca Flats.
James found this old Monsters Weirdos & Creeps card from 2008! #monstersweirdosandcreeps #therules #tradingcards @porkmagazine