When it comes to the most frightening horror villains of all time, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre baddie Leatherface is right up there with Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and Michael Myers. First introduced in Tobe Hooper’s seminal The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Leatherface has continued to stalk, slash, and slaughter unsuspecting interlopers for more than 45 years over the course of eight feature films.
While Leatherface’s murderous M.O. has remained consistent over the years, his physical appearance has altered quite a bit. Check out the ways Leatherface’s menacing mask has evolved through the years below.
The Pale Powdered Face – Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994)
Although the film starred eventual Oscar winners in Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger, no level of high-acting talent could save the appearance of Leatherface (Robert Jacks) in his swollen powder-puff mask in Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation. The baggy, heavily made-up, and overly-effeminate mask is a far cry from what made the original so terrifying, namely a gore-sodden patchwork of human flesh stitched together.
While still creepy in its own right, the mask makes Leatherface appear far less dangerous than he once was. In fact, he looks more like a really offensive cross-dressing joke in this terrible sequel that McConaughey and Zellweger refuse to acknowledge. The two A-listers even sued the film’s Blu-Ray release to get their names off the cover.
The Furry Animal Mask – Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013)
The mask Leatherface (Dan Yeager) sports in Texas Chainsaw 3D is less of a human-flesh facial covering and more of a desiccated animal pelt swaddled around his head. It makes the hardened horror villain look less like Leatherface and more like a deformed Wookiee or a scarecrow zombie. However, this is probably explained in the fact that Texas Chainsaw 3D is a direct sequel to the original, disregarding every sequel before it.
Here, Alexandra Daddario plays a young woman who inherits the ill-fated Sawyer mansion, where years of abject butchery have taken place. When she brings her friends to tour the place, they’re met by a territorial Leatherface, who’s been stuck in the basement ever since the end of the ’70s. His lack of human victims led to a hobo version of his once iconic mask.
The Jigsaw/Michael Myers Mask – Leatherface (2017)
The most recent iteration of Leatherface (Sam Strike) came in the 2017 prequel starring Stephen Dorff and Lili Taylor. For some reason, Leatherface tries to justify, if not explain, how the monstrous Leatherface grew up to become a psychotically unhinged cannibal with a penchant for wearing human flesh.
However, the mask Leatherface dons in the film look to be more of a cross between Jigsaw and Michael Myers rather than the trademark Leatherface visage. The long hair and overly pronounced facial scarring don’t help either, echoing Rob Zombie’s Halloween remake but not for any of the right reasons.
The Frankenstein/Clown Face – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
In this big-budget remake, director Marcus Nispel opted for a quasi-Frankenstein clown mask for Leatherface (Andrew Bryniarski) to wear for most of his screen time.
While certainly mortifying, the mask doesn’t quite resemble the grisly nature of the original worn by Gunnar Hansen in 1974. It has less of an organic, human-flesh quality and more of a manufactured rubbery texture that does not feel germane to the character.
The Black Leather Mask – Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006)
One of the more uniquely unsettling masks Leatherface (Andrew Bryniarski) wears comes in the prequel Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. In addition to a startling black leather lower-face mask, Leatherface also puts on a pallid and disfigured human facemask as the film unspools.
The deformed black mask with a wide mouth gives off the vibe of a medieval executioner as Leatherface toils in a dark and dank dungeon-like basement in a pair of bloody butcher overalls.
Leatherface’s Stitched Face Masks – Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)
While Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 has an overtly comedic bent to it, the moldering masks Leatherface (Bill Johnson) wears and makes others wear is no laughing matter. One of the aspects that makes the main mask so mortifying is that it appears to be comprised of several different victims’ faces, heavily stitched together.
This seems to be corroborated by the fact that Leatherface has spare excised human faces to share with his beloved captives. The sequel’s goofy and campy tone doesn’t detract from the fact that wearing someone else’s face is pretty nightmarish. The fact that Leatherface has a lot of extra masks only makes this more unsettling than it already is.
The Bloodsoaked Skin Mask – Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990)
Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III is almost certainly the least-known chapter in the entire series. However, it features one of Leatherface’s (R.A. Mihailoff) most disturbing skin-masks of all time.
In addition to the detailed stitch work and viscid gore seeping from underneath, the mask is extra horrifying in the way the ragged mouth opening exposes Leatherface’s rotten teeth. The uneven nostrils add to the grotesquery while the wide eye-holes allow the victim to stare into the soulless pupils of Leatherface in the moments before he strikes. Arguably, this is his most monstrous look to date.
The Original Skin Masks – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
It’s hard to argue against the inaugural mask worn by Leatherface in Tobe Hooper’s landmark horror original as being the best of the entire franchise to date. In the very first Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Leatherface wears two distinct masks, both of which have been reappropriated throughout the entire series.
The first (above, left) is a patchwork of human flesh that Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen) slips over his own face and wears in the first half of the film. The second is adorned in grotesquely heavy makeup, which Leatherface puts on for the climactic family feast (above, right). Apparently, this is how Leatherface gets ready for a fancy dinner. Each mask is petrifying on their own but in tandem, they make Leatherface twice as scary.