Credit: Bryanston Pictures
5. Headcheese (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre)
In the early 1970s, Tobe Hooper was looking to get into the horror movie business. Inspired by serial killer and necrophile Ed Gein, as well as the intense graphic coverage of violence by the local media, Hooper came up with the concept of the cannibalistic Sawyer family. Leatherface borrowed many ideas from Gein, such as the idea of wearing dead flesh over his own like a costume.
While writing the movie, Hooper had spent some time thinking of a good title. But it wasn’t coming very easy to him. For a long time, it had been operating under the working title of Headcheese. The name refers to a type of meat jelly made from the heads of farm animals, such as calves or pigs. That’s likely due to all of the rotting flesh the family keeps around the house, or even on their face, in the case of Leatherface.
Hooper also considered calling the film simply Leatherface. That would later become the subtitle for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3, and is also the title for the upcoming prequel to the original film. While that probably would have worked, it doesn’t sound as gritty and vicious as the final title. It’s also unimaginative, almost like retitling A Nightmare on Elm Street as Freddy Krueger.
Of course, the film would eventually get its final title, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. It’s unique and catchy, and certainly a step up from being called Leatherface. And about seven million and a half steps up from being called Headcheese.