Tuesday, August 8, 2017
'PRETTY WOMAN' TEXAS CHAINSAW STYLE
Along with Wes Craven's THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972), the unforgettable 1974 film by Tobe Hooper, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE heralded a new age of horror movies now called "slasher films", and foreshadowed the hugely-successful franchises of HALLOWEEN and FRIDAY THE 13TH.
Props from TCM are scarce and the tale told below by Heritage Auctions indicates just how lucky it was that a cache of items from the film had been stashed away, waiting for someone to re-discover them.
Among these items was the "pretty woman" mask, designed by the late Bob Burns (art director of the film, not Bob "Kogar" Burns). Made from latex and a fiberglass component that is no longer being manufactured, it was worn by the late Gunnar Hansen's character, Leatherface, in the infamous "dinner" scene near the end of the film.
The mask sold at auction for $9,200 in 2004.
Leatherface "Pretty Woman" mask from "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Bryanston, 1974). - In the annals of film history, there are several masks that can be considered classic: the mask worn by the Phantom of the Opera to hide his disfigurement, or that worn by Zorro to conceal the identity of the wealthy Don Diego de la Vega. Batman's mask is known to million's worldwide, while Jim Carrey's verdant visage in the aptly titled 1994 feature, "The Mask", is similarly well-known. Of all the masks ever worn upon the silver screen, however, the most disturbing and possibly the most unforgettable, are the faces worn by actor Gunnar Hanson in director Tobe Hooper's classic horror film, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." Created by art director Bob Burns for the low-budget classic, this is the "Pretty Lady" mask (so named because it is decorated with grotesque lipstick, eye shadow, and a horrendous black wig) worn by the character Leatherface during the dinner scene in the latter part of the movie. Art Director Bob Burns reportedly made the mask from a fiberglass material (which is no longer manufactured) and latex. One of only two masks used in the film (the other is the infamous "Killing Mask"), Burns has claimed that there were no duplicates made of either prop, making this a unique piece of film history. In an e-mail received shortly before Burn's death, the artist said, "I was amazed to find out this mask was still in existence. I had thought it had been discarded 25 years ago. It's always a thrill when my work pops up somewhere like this." The mask, along with several other key props, was kept in a storage room in Austin Texas until the unit was abandoned by the renter. At that point, the contents of the storage room were sold on a blind bid basis to a furniture store in Austin. From there, the contents were acquired by Ed Neal (the "Hitchhiker" in the film), who has kept possession of them until consigning them to this auction. According to Neal, "This mask really creeped me out the first time I saw it on the set. Bob Burns did such a great job creating it, and Gunnar Hansen really brought the thing to life. Even more than the Killing Mask, this is the face that still gives me nightmares. I hate to part with this, but I have faith that it will find a good home with some devoted fan." The mask, which is mounted on a styrofoam head form, is in delicate condition, and has not received any conservation or restoration work of any kind. It has been authenticated by both the creator, Bob Burns, and by Ed Neal.