Grandpa Sawyer appears in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and its sequel The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, portrayed by John Dugan and Ken Evert, respectively. and appears in more of the franchise than any other character besides Leatherface. He is a supercentenarian, former butcher/slaughterman and implied mass murderer. Director Tobe Hooper stated on the audio commentary for Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, that Grandpa is kept alive by drinking the blood of his family's victims.
Snippets of Grandpa's history prior to the events of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre films occur throughout the series; it is revealed that Grandpa was originally a worker at a slaughterhouse whose skills at killing and butchering cattle were unmatched. After new technology was implemented in abattoirs, Grandpa quit his job due to "the shame" (not being able to cope with the noises the machines are making). Grandpa later apparently settled down with the unnamed Grandma and began a family, the cannibalistic Sawyers (how they became cannibalistic is never revealed, though it is implied that they resorted to cannibalism in order to survive starvation, because the family was already poor when Grandpa and the rest of his family quit working).
In The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, the 124 year old Grandpa (John Dugan) appears as a somewhat minor character, initially thought to be already dead; he is first seen briefly during Leatherface's chase scene, Sally approaches him seeking help but assumes he is dead when she sees how old he is. Later after heroine Sally Hardesty (Marilyn Burns) is captured by his grandchildren, Drayton (Jim Siedow), Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen) and the Hitchhiker (Edwin Neal), Grandpa is taken from the second floor of the house and brought to her by them. Leatherface proceeds to slash Sally's finger and forces it into Grandpa's mouth, so he can suck her blood (proving that he is, in fact, alive), an event that causes Sally to fall unconscious. Some time after Sally is awakened, Drayton, Leatherface and the Hitchhiker decide to allow Grandpa to end her life through the use of a hammer; due to his advanced age, Grandpa is largely incapable of using the hammer efficiently and continues to drop it. The hassle that ensues with Grandpa's continued dropping of the hammer and his grandchildren's over-eagerness to help him allows Sally to break free of the Sawyer family and jump out a window, though he and Drayton do not attempt to follow her.
Grandpa (Ken Evert), now 137 years old, later appears in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, inhabiting an abandoned theme park named the "Texas Battle Land" with what remains of his family; when the film's heroine, Vanita "Stretch" Brock (Caroline Williams), is captured by his grandson Chop Top (Bill Moseley), Grandpa is brought forth to kill her (in the same way he tried to do to Sally) with help from Chop Top, unlike in the first film here he actually lands a hit though he succeeds in only causing a minor head wound to her with a sledgehammer (and a second wound caused by an impatient Drayton). When Lieutenant "Lefty" Enright (Dennis Hopper), the film's male protagonist, engages in a chainsaw duel with Leatherface (Bill Johnson), Grandpa attempts to aid his grandson by throwing a hammer at his opponent, only to hit Leatherface instead and subsequently fall to the floor (which alludes the first film's climax). Grandpa apparently meets his demise when a grenade, accidentally set off by an injured Drayton (Jim Siedow), Lefty and Leatherface, detonates in close proximity to him.
In Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, which has connections to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Grandpa appears only as a decayed corpse kept and treated as if he were alive by Leatherface (R. A. Mihailoff) and his new extended family who regularly pour blood into his mouth to "feed" him; when one of the film's protagonists, Benny (Ken Foree), opens fire on the Sawyer house with an automatic rifle, Grandpa's body takes several shots to the chest and one to the face, but the body is left for the most part intact. On the special documentary on Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, director Jeff Burr mentions that Grandpa is "on his way out" meaning that the corpse of Grandpa still might have some life in him. Also in this film, the character of Mama mentions that she castrated both herself and "Papa", referring to Grandpa, implying an incestous relationship between the two.
In the 1994 film Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, a minor character very similar to Grandpa, referred to as "Grandfather" (Grayson Victor Schirmacher), appears as a member of the Sawyer family. The character might, in fact, be Grandpa, as the film possibly takes place in its own continuity. In Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Grandpa was also credited as "Grandfather".
In the 1991 Leatherface comics by Northstar Comics, which are based upon Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, Grandpa appears, though he is portrayed as extremely different in this appearance than in others; instead of the solitary and silent figure he is usually shown as, this version of Grandpa is depicted as a rambling old man with a habit of telling non-linear stories, he also seems to be much younger and more in shape than in the films (he still seems to be much more sane and harmless than the rest of the family though) and appears largely oblivious to his surroundings. It is also revealed by the character Mama that Grandpa isn't biologically related to the featured version of the Sawyer family and that he was abandoned as a child and subsequently adopted into it.
Grandpa also appears throughout the 1995 Jason vs. Leatherface comic miniseries by Topps Comics; in the comics, Grandpa acts as essentially nothing more than a background character and has little interaction with any other characters, mostly appearing only in dinner scenes. Also of note, a picture depicting a much younger Grandpa is found by Jason Voorhees in the attic of the Sawyer house.
John Dugan reprised his role in Texas Chainsaw 3D, in which Grandpa is shown sitting inside the Sawyer house with his relatives as they are confronted by Sheriff Hooper. He is present when the residents of Newt burn down the Sawyer house and kill the family members inside.
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Famous quotes containing the words sawyer and/or grandpa:
“But thats always the way; it dont make no difference whether you do right or wrong, a persons conscience aint got no sense, and just goes for him anyway.... It takes up more room than all the rest of a persons insides, and yet aint no good, nohow. Tom Sawyer thinks the same.”
—Mark Twain [Samuel Langhorne Clemens] (18351910)
“That the public can grow accustomed to any face is proved by the increasing prevalence of Keiths ruined physiognomy on TV documentaries and chat shows, as familiar and homely a horror as Grandpa in The Munsters.”
—Philip Norman, British author, journalist. The Life and Good Times of the Rolling Stones, introduction (1989)