Crafting a prequel to a film as well known as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre comes with a plethora of difficulties, including having to navigate connecting a film to the original mythology while also giving fans a standalone story. In the case of Leatherface, the story almost made a direct reference to one of the most popular characters in the franchise, Chop Top (Bill Moseley) from Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, before opting to keep its character more subtle, which writer Seth M. Sherwood revealed to Bloody Disgusting.
“Chop Top was always my favorite member of the family, the only one close to the same level of standing out as Leatherface,” Sherwood explained of early versions of the script. “I wanted to actually put some revisionist version of him in – something that matched the tone of the original as opposed to the more cartoony Chainsaw 2.”
Considering the subject matter of the Texas Chainsaw films, they're clearly horror movies, but with filmmaker Tobe Hooper's second installment in the franchise, he included plenty of campy elements, Chop Top included. Leatherface, however, is much more straightforward horror, which would've made a goofier character not fit the rest of the film's tone.
Set years before the events of the first film, Leatherface features many of the characters from the original film, albeit younger versions of those characters. The film follows a group of teenagers who escape a mental institution, causing chaos and carnage everywhere they go, leaving the audience to wonder who these characters would eventually become in relation to the original franchise.
"The family’s role grew and shrank in development, so I decided to scratch that itch with one of the gang by making a female version as an homage,” Sherwood confessed.
Jessica Madsen plays one of the deranged teenagers, which is ultimately a subtle reference to Chop Top.
“Originally she had a plate in her head and was an albino – and she may have told Stephen Dorff to lick her plate,” Sherwood admitted. “[But] when we got into our first round of revisions it started to feel like a cheat cause it was actually more of a rip-off than an homage; I couldn’t help showing my Chop Top love. So we dialed it back to make her more original.”
Audiences might not immediately see the similarities between the two characters, but those paying close attention might notice the homage.
"I like to think Chop Top’s playful nature of laughing through everything and flipping back and forth between anger and giddiness is still in [Madsen's] Clarice,” Sherwood pointed out.
Leatherface is available now through DirecTV and will hit VOD and select theaters on October 20.