For anyone who remembers Marilyn Burnswill know her from the 1974 cult classic slasher flick 'The Texas Chain Saw Massacre' as the lead role of Sally Hardesty in which no one else could portray a truly believeable freaked out vicitim to a family of cannibals as well as being chased by the chainsaw wielder Leatherface for the 15 minutes or so on the screen. She really knew on how to portray a young adult wanting to enjoy a summer cruise in her boyfriend's driving van along with her friends only to be the meals to this demented family while making a stop to her grandparents torn down house which next door resides the farmhouse to these people.
She indeed became a cult icon due to this flick and won a couple other parts in low budget films including the role of Faye in Tobe Hooper's next slasher flick 'Eaten Alive' along with having a special appearance as a former Mansonite Linda Kasabian in the controversial TV-movie drama 'Helter Skelter'.
Plus won another lead role in a very low budget horror flick as Nora Dennis in 'Kiss Daddy Goodbye' in which starred with Fabian as well.
She even teamed up with TCM co-star Edwin Neal in the sci-fi action flick 'Future Kill' in which she plays an armoured warrior named Dorothy Grim.
Afterwards she took a break from acting but returned to the horror genre.
She has also acted in regional theatre as well as TV commercials plus was a very pleasant person to talk to which I waited for a long time to finally interview her. So let's get to it shall we???


At what age did you see yourself as an actress?

Umm. Very young as I took dance tap and ballet but it was in 7th grade when I played Helena in Midsummers Night Dream. That hooked me. But I’ve done skits and stuff as well as dance and ballet but that was my first big stage performance with a big audience.

Did you see yourself acting in horror films?

That wasn’t my goal I loved horror films. They weren’t really being made that time. There were old Universal horror films and there was a couple coming out but there wasn’t a big horror medium.

What was your first professional acting gig?

Professionally I did some commercials in town. I did modeling in 7th grade too. But my first…. I was an extra in a lot of big films. My first actual acting gig was in 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre'. I’ve done a whole lot of other stuff before I had the opportunity to be in 'Loving Molly' but the agency came back and said in order they packaged three major stars and wanted the other actress.

What were you approached to do at the audition of 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' for the role of Sally Hardesty?

Well I came in and read for the part. I was working on the Texas film commission and worked on several texas productions that were going on here too and going for a gopher and the Texan's were gonna make a movie here and wanted Texas like.

What was it like working on the set of the film?

It was very hot and very tense and very real thanks to Robert Verns' set design. The whole thing was the experience was having us all in the van from the heat and the smells at the dinner table rotting the temperatures 110 and hotter in the house with the windows covered and a 26 hour shoot. We didn’t sleep much on that movie.

Now you really portrayed that role like no other person would as a freaked out victim or running away from Leatherface. How did you make that intensity come to life like that?

You get what sa bunch of kids at a wildnerness and getting chased by a guy in a mask that he cant see out of properly with a chainsaw. Were we we crazy or what? I justr watched enough horror movies that I didn’t wanna be one of those people in a momentum movie.

I understood that Jim Siedow was really menacing in reality while smacking you with a broomstick that you really passed out. Was this a real terrifying experience for you?

Jim was a great actor and he was very convincing as his character but he didn’t wanna hit me cause he didn’t want to hurt me. So Tobe said Jim were losing this space and the sunlight is coming up hit the girl and Jim says I cant hit the woman. So I said Jim go ahead and hit me or we’ll never get outta here.

What was it like working with Edwin Neal and Gunnar Hansen when they were tormenting you at the cannibalistic dinner table?

Just like it looked very frightening, tortureous mean and horrible and they enjoyed every minute of it all the stuff made the picture real. The smells the sickness cause it was a long shoot which made screaming easy as it could be that was my way of getting even as the filmmakers and that was my way getting even.

How could you relate to everything when you were screaming in terror while tied up at the table? Some people wondered if you really were freaked out by all this?

I enjoyed screaming and that way my way of communicating that this was madness by getting even with the cast and crew for driving me crazy.

When you jumped out of a window to the ground what was required for you to do that so you wouldn’t get hurt?

Nothing that had me jumping from a scaffling to the ground I got hurt and thought I broke my leg but really I just hurt my ankle. There was a special platform. So me limping was very real.

What was the most memorable moment did you do working on set?

The end laughing and cackling after we shot all that said we had to shoot it the second time making the cackling more real. This was really driving me crazy.

Which was the most straining and hardest to do?

Ummm…. Probably shooting the ending the second time and here we go again wondering when this movie is gonna end?

There was rumors that Tobe Hooper really made you cry that you said you refused to work with him again was that true?

No Tobe and I are good friends. I just saw him on convention in New York and Los Angeles as well as Dallas. Tobe had always been my friends.

What kinds of feedback or publicity did you get from fans who saw you in the theatrical release of the film?

Any fan has always been wonderful and welcoming.

Did other horror filmmakers approach you to be in their films after seeing you in this one?

I think that everybody that had a horror film. So the answer is yes I didn’t do them all as I wanted to do other genre’s. Different drama’s etc.

I remember your special appearance in the controversial bio drama on the true story of Charles Manson 'Helter Skelter' shortly after 'TCM' talking in a  court case matter by acting upset and freaked out. Did you feel that your work in 'TCM' help you win the role as the former Mansonite named Linda Kasabian?

No I read for Linda and she was totally different and Hollywood didn’t care or acknowledge TCM as they didn’t acknowledge indie film people.

Tobe Hooper cast you as a family woman named Faye in 'Eaten Alive'. Did you have to audition for it or did he ask you to be in it regardless due to your terrific performance in 'TCM?

'Eaten Alive' I did not have to audition and was excited about his script and was excited to be a part of it. I loved the script.

What was it like working with a better known cast in this one like Neville Brand, Stuart Whitman and Robert Englund?

They were all wonderful. They were terrific actors and ensemble.

From what I remember your fellow actor William Finley was acting crazy in the hotel room. Was this due to the shock of the crocodile attacking your dog? What was it like doing interactions with him in this scene?

Bill was a wonderful actor and a great friend and Tobe wanted some total chaos between us. I would imagine he was in shock.

What was the reason that you wore a wig in the first bit of your scene?

It was one of the face prizes. She was sort of neurotic.

What was he like to work with and did you go to his funeral as he died just recently?

No I wished I could have. He was up north.

Can you tell us your experience with Neville Brand slapping you around as well as tying you to a bed as you brought out your intensity here like in 'TCM'?

That was a bit too realistic for me. So again it brought out my intensity. It was very different than 'TCM'.

What kinds of work did you do throughout the rest of the 70’s?

Bits and pieces here. I kept working but it wasn’t famous like the main films are. Stage work etc.

Now in 1981 you starred in a direct-to-video titled 'Kiss Daddy Goodbye' as a counsellor named Nora Dennis. At that point films only went to theatre’s except for adult films and this one had such a weak budget that I understood it was shelved away until 1988 when direct-to-video releases were really happening. Was this true?

I think so I think it might’ve been in a few theatre’s but now I see it at conventions and other shows. It’s been on television recently.

What was it like working opposite with Fabian since he was such an icon in his days?

He was a terrific actor and a great man very sweet.

What do you remember doing the most in this flick?

I had a very pleasant experience with the cast and crew we had a really good time.

You didn’t have to perform intense in this one since you showed a different type of versatility. Did the filmmakers like you in 'TCM' and asked you to be in this film to see if you could try a challenge by playing this type of role?

Oh I don’t know. Hopefully not. Whatever we can do we can get. It’s lovely to be offered a role. Everybody auditioned. Im sure Fabian didn’t have to.

Next up I understood that Edwin Neal asked you to be in the sci-fi action flick 'Future Kill' as his mistress Dorothy Grimm which is a different character alltogether. Did you feel that this was definitely a role to play around with since you had a warrior type of outfit in this flick?

Oh I definetely had a good time with that one. That was a really interesting film and that costume was very different.

Did this one make it to theatre’s and what was the turn out to the fans since most considered it a horror flick since both you and Edwin starred in it? It was really a sci fi film altogether though.

Yeah it went to theatre’s it had a big premiere we were everywhere Westwood, Egyptuian, Hollywodd Blvd. I went to the Dallas Red Carpet and all that mess.

What was the reason that you dropped off the acting field? 

I just did that temp moved to Texas cause of family and did some writing. But I’m back into it I love tha business.

A sequel to 'TCM' was being made in 86 did Tobe ever ask you to reprise your role as Sally in it?

No cause Sally wasn’t written in the sequel.

You did make a comeback to acting in a comedy horror titled 'Boneboys' which had many of your 'TCM' fellow actors in it as well as in 'TCM 3D' What are your roles in it?

Both were cameo’s. I hope 'TCM 3D' will be good and am looking forward for it to come out.

Do you have other horror film projects lined up?

I do have some exciting stuff coming up but don't want to announce them yet.

What are your favourite horror films?

'The Exorcist' really scared me and I also enjoyed 'The Shining' as I love Stephen King and there was another movie that was really scary but can’t remember the name of it.