Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Saw Is Family

Texas Monthly and Alamo Drafthouse had a series of Rolling Roadshows this summer to celebrate the greatest films from Texas. I had the privilege of seeing the screening of TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE in Kingsland, TX where the house is located. As some of you know, the house that belonged to Leatherface in the film was originally located in Round Rock, TX where La Frontera shopping center currently stands. Several years ago, the house was sold and moved to Kingsland then turned into a restaurant.

This special event might be the holy mecca of pilgrimages for horror fans. TCM is undoubtedly one of the greatest horror films of all time; it's definitely in my Top 3. Many people to this day still believe TCM is a true story; it is to some degree. Famous serial killer Ed Gein offered some inspiration for the plot of TCM, but the screenplay was the work of Kim Henkel and Tobe Hooper. All the sequels and remakes fail to convey the same terrifying feelings as that original film from 1974. I first watched TCM when I was a kid and I was completely blown away by how relenting & merciless the film came across. It was very unsettling and probably the source of my unnatural fear & repulsion of hillbillies. With such a small budget, relatively unknown cast, and iconic setting, no film will ever recreate this incredible formula.

I had actually visited the house in Kingsland 3 yrs ago and got to spend the weekend at the neighboring hotel. I had dinner in the house/restaurant (menu mostly consisted of Cajun food) and the theme was mostly wholesome country. There was no film memorabilia displayed anywhere. The house looked virtually the same without the animal carcasses. The door that Leatherface lunged from was now the kitchen and the attic where grandpa stayed was now a bar. The bar was actually really cool, it had a stylish 1920s vibe. The bar bathroom held the only indication that Leatherface once lived there with a movie poster hanging on the wall.

Aside from the sweltering June heat, I could not ask for a more memorable experience. As a last minute surprise, it was announced that some of the cast and crew would be in attendance for the screening. Marilyn Burns, Kim Henkel, Allen Danziger, and Edwin Neal all were gracious enough to answer questions and share various stories. There was also a headcheese eating contest that seriously made me nauseous. Just googling headcheese made me nauseous! After the Q & A, we were all invited to take a tour of the house. It seems as though the current owners picked up on the interest in the home/film and decided to profit from it. Now there is TCM memorabilia everywhere which kind of gives off a Universal Studios feel. The upstairs bar is now host to someone's cheesy Star Wars collection. In my opinion, the new additions to the home kind of cheapen the feel this mysterious house once had. I had a wonderful time nonetheless.

Special thanks to Derek & Michelle for making the jaunt with us and for sharing their bug spray. Also, thanks to the Alamo Drafthouse for making a little girl's wild dreams come true.