I was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, where I lived till I was five years old. Then my family moved to the US, to a small town on the coast of Maine, where I lived till I was eleven. From there, it was on to San Antonio, Texas, for a brief stay, and then Austin, Texas, where I went to high school and then the University of Texas.

I started out at UT majoring in physics. (There’s a certain thrill in studying eigenvectors, as I’m sure you remember from your college days.) Somehow, though, I wised up and got my degree in English and mathematics. (Wanna know what Herman Melville did on any given day in 1850? Give me a call.) Then it was on to graduate school, first in Scandinavian Studies and then back into the English Department.

Somewhere in the middle of this I worked on The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. I hadn’t started out with any intention of getting involved with movies. Still, I was in a couple of student films (See that large guy hulking in the background? That’s me.), and somehow even managed to get myself into a Mexican romance. (See that large guy hulking in the foreground? That’s me.)

The summer of 1973, I was fresh out of graduate school, at least for the first time, and found out that some local Austin filmmakers were making a horror movie. (I won’t tell you how I found out.) I was also told that they were looking for someone to play the killer. The movie was called Leatherface, though at the time there was some talk of changing the name to Headcheese. I had been in some plays in college, so I tried out and got the part, figuring it would be a much better summer job than tending bar or pounding nails. And, I figured, it would be something fun to have once done. I never thought the movie would amount to anything more than one more nasty little horror pic. Well, I was wrong.

Like I said, acting had never been what I indended to do, so even though Chain Saw was an immeditate success, I did not move to Hollywood and I did not continue acting. (In fact, I turned down a chance to be in Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes.) Instead, in 1975, after more graduate school, I moved back to Maine and decided to get serious about writing. This had always been my main interest, something I had always wanted to focus my work on. I moved to a village on an island on the coast, where I figured I could hit those keys.

I worked for many years writing (and occassionally editing) for magazines and from there moved to film and book writing. I now write and direct documentary films and have written several feature film scripts (and have discovered Option Hell). My most recent script, Death House, is scheduled for production in 2013. I also write books. These include some local histories and a book of poems, Bear Dancing on the Hill, which are all out of print. My book Islands at the Edge of Time, nonfiction about the barrier islands on the US coast from Texas to North Carolina, was published by Island Press, Washington, DC. I am currently finishing a new book, Chain Saw Confidential: How We Made the World’s Most Notorious Horror Movie, to be published by Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA, in September 2013.

Oh, yes, there are also the movies. I have performed in more than twenty-five movies since Chain Saw. Luckily, a couple of them have never been released. Even more luckily, most of them have.


  • Texas Chainsaw 3D. 2013 feature (Boss Sawyer)
  • Dancing at the Mill. 2011 documentary. (voice of Tracy)
  • Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre. 2009 feature (Captain Petur)
  • Won Ton Baby. 2009 feature (Dr. Severson)
  • Shudder. 2007 feature (Brother)
  • Gimme Skelter. 2006 feature (Porter Sanford)
  • The Deepening. 2006 feature (Doctor)
  • Chainsaw Sally. 2006 feature (Dad)
  • N’tolonapemk: Our Relatives’ Place. 2006 documentary (voice of Olowisu)
  • Apocalypse & the Beauty Queen. 2006 feature (Reggie)
  • Aconite. 2006 feature (Gypsy Elder)
  • Invisible. 2004 documentary (narrator)
  • The Business. 2004 feature. (Grandfather)
  • Murder-Set-Pieces. 2003 feature (The Mechanic)
  • Swarm of the Snakehead. 2003 feature (Mr. Gunnar)
  • It Came from Trafalgar. 2003 feature (Texas Ghoul)
  • Next Victim. 2003 feature (Dr. Howard)
  • Witchunter. 2003 feature (The Detective)
  • Rachel’s Attic. 2002 feature (Ronald)
  • River Stories. 2001documentary (narrator)
  • Repligator. 1997 feature (Dr. Kildare)
  • Hellblock 13. 1997 feature (the Executioner)
  • Penobscot: The People and Their River. 1995 documentary (narrator)
  • Hatred of a Minute. 1995 feature (Barry)
  • Exploding Angel. 1995 feature (Walter Lowe)
  • Freakshow. 1994 feature (the Freakmaster)
  • Mosquito. 1993 feature (Earl Howard)
  • Campfire Tales. 1990 feature (Ralph, the storyteller)
  • Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers. 1987 feature (the Stranger)
  • “Eastpoint, Maine.” 1984 Old Mil commercial (fisherman)
  • The Demon Lover. 1975 feature (Professor Peckinpah)
  • “Darrell Royal.” 1974 Chrysler commerical (fan)
  • Texas Chainsaw Massacre. 1974 feature (Leatherface)

Documentaries Featured In

  • Chiller 13. 2012
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Saga. 2006
  • Masters of Horror: Tobe Hooper. 2006
  • Flesh Wounds: Seven Stories of the Saw. 2006
  • The Greatest Movies Ever Made. 2006
  • The Perfect Scary Movie. 2005
  • Unconventional. 2004
  • Ed Gein. 2003
  • 100 Greatest Scary Moments. 2003
  • I Love the 70s. 2003
  • Where Are They Now. 2003
  • Masters of Horror. 2002
  • Scream and Scream Again. 2000
  • Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Shocking Truth. 2000
  • The Fearmakers. 1995
  • Texas Chainsaw Massacre: A Family Portrait. 1988

Films Written, Directed or Produced

  • Death House. 2013 feature screenplay
  • Dancing at the Mill. 2011 documentary, script
  • Chummy Rich: Maine Boatbuilder. 2010 documentary, script
  • Indian. 2009 feature screenplay
  • N’tolonapemk: Our Relatives’ Place. 2006 documentary, producer, director & script
  • Invisible. 2004 documentary co-producer, director & script
  • The Last Horror Picture Show. 2003 feature screenplay
  • A Sense of Place, A Sense of Time. 2001 documentary script
  • Icebound. 1997 feature screenplay
  • Penobscot: The People and Their River. 1995 documentary director and script
  • Maine: America’s Coast. 1994 documentary script
  • Wolaku. 1992 documenatry research
  • Futbol Moscow. 1990 feature screenplay
  • Butcher’s Pride. 1988 feature screenplay
  • Portrait of an Island. 1986 documentary script