Actress in original 'Chainsaw Massacre' shocked by film's success

Dan Yeager stars as 'Leatherface' in TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D. Photo credit: Justin Lubin

Photo by Justin Lubin

Dan Yeager stars as 'Leatherface' in TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D. Photo credit: Justin Lubin

The film continues the legendary story of the homicidal Sawyer family, picking up where Tobe Hooper's 1974 horror classic left off in Newt, Texas, where ...

Rating: R for strong grisly violence and language throughout

Length: 92 minutes

Released: January 4, 2013 Nationwide

Cast: Alexandra Daddario, Dan Yeager, Tremaine Neverson, Scott Eastwood, Tania Raymonde

Director: John Luessenhop

Writer: Adam Marcus, Debra Sullivan, Kirsten Elms, Stephen Susco

More info and showtimes »

FRESNO, Calif. — Marilyn Burns, who played Sally Hardesty in the original "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," is shocked the film remains so popular. It's such a popular horror franchise that a remake, "Texas Chainsaw 3D," hits theaters today.

Burns makes a cameo appearance in the new film. She plays the character of Verna and is seen as Sally in archive footage. This isn't the first time Burns has returned to the franchise. She made an uncredited appearance in the 1994 film "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation" as a patient on a gurney.

The only thing Burns thought about when she starred in the original was how to make the best film possible.

"Never in my wildest dreams did I think that almost 40 years later I would be talking about it," Burns says.

The film was the first of several horror movies that the Pennsylvania native made - including "Eaten Alive" and "Future-Kill" - that earned her the title of one of the original Scream Queens of horror. But she's most closely associated with "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre."

Burns, 62, was just a struggling actress when she auditioned for 'Massacre" director Tobe Hooper. The real struggles began once she was cast to play one of the five friends who are systematically killed by a family of grave-robbing cannibals. Making the super-low-budget film in the sweltering Texas heat became so demanding that many of the actors wanted to quit.

"We had a lot of strange experiences making the film. There were so many trials and troubles to get it done that it's just surprising that the film got to make it to the screen. We didn't have a lot of fun while making the movie. But all of the troubles seemed to help because you can see all of our pain on the screen," she says.

Burns had to endure long hours of filming, having to run around with red syrup covering her body to create a bloody look. Her makeup was done in the back of a pickup truck. She even had to redo scenes because of lost footage.

No experience was stranger than a scene where Sally's finger gets cut. Burns didn't find out until a few years ago that because they couldn't get the prop knife to work, Hooper decided to use a real knife and actually cut her finger.

"That was a real acting job," Burns says with a laugh. "What I learned was that when it comes to acting, sometimes you just have to get in there and do it."

Burns initially thought that her return to the franchise for the latest remake was going to be just as difficult. When she arrived in Shreveport, La., to film her scenes, Burns was hit with the same stifling heat that had plagued the original shoot. The big difference this time was that there were air-conditioned tents and trailers for the cast and crew.

Over the years, Burns acted in more mainstream projects, such as "The Great Waldo Pepper," but it's her bloody debut in "Massacre" that's brought her the most fame.

"I still have to pinch myself every time I go to a convention because everyone still wants to talk about the film. I am so grateful that they do," Burns says.

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