Quite often, we’ll have guests come in to write a piece for The Blood Sprayer. Usually, it has something to do with a specific topic or theme week we’ll have going on. However, this guest piece is different. Our friend Krystal Beck has been featured on this site as part of our Little Shop of Horrors column, where her artwork and website (www.thezombified.com
) was the spotlight. In addition to an abiding love of horror, Krystal and I share a very strong, common bond: An unabashed love/obsession with the horror classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
As a resident of Texas, Krystal got the rare (and awesome, I might add!) opportunity to attend a 35 mm print screening of Texas ON the actual grounds the film was shot. In attendance were cast and crew and of course, scores of rabid fans. Alamo Draft House, as usual, put together a fantastic event and Krystal recapped her memories of it. But that’s the not the end of the story…
In addition to whipping up this piece for The Blood Sprayer, Krystal Beck was sent on another mission by our good friends at Fright Rags. Her mission was to secure some soil from the sacred grounds of that horror classic. Why? Well, if you’re at all familiar with Fright Rags, you know that when they do up a special addition/collector’s package that they do it up PROPER!
And now I know
I’ve got your complete and undivided attention-you want to know just what it is that Fright Rags has going on? You want to know just HOW you’re going to be able to sink your teeth into whatever it is they’re working on? Well, then you’re going to need to do 2 things: First and foremost, read this awesome retelling of events that Krystal Fancey Beck embarked upon, based on a love for her favorite of all time (and as our readers know, my favorite as well!). Then, you’re going to want to go to http://www.fright-rags.com/page.html?id=27
and get signed up for the official Fright Rags newsletter by NO LATER than July 6th. That way, you’ll be able to know what exactly Fright Rags, soil, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre have in common AND have in store for you!!! Now, please read on as Krystal takes you on her journey to the Land of The Saw…
August 18, 1973. An idyllic summer afternoon drive became a nightmare.
June 4, 2011? An idyllic summer afternoon drive: a Texas Chainsaw Massacre fan’s wet dream.
We embarked on our journey far too early in the morning for my borderline nocturnal self. After some coffee and a few irrelevant stops, we slid in a carefully crafted mix CD that included songs like Buckethead (as Giant Robot)’s Sally, Skinny Puppy‘s Chainsaw, and- of course- Roger Bartlett’s Fool For A Blonde, woven between samples and sounds from the film itself. The tour had officially begun.
Our first stop? The gas station in Bastrop. It was instantly recognizable, and my excitement was only amplified by the realization that there was actually a man set up outside selling barbecue. He informed us that it was his first day set up out there, and that it was “where they filmed that movie”. He quickly learned that that was indeed our purpose, as the three of us had by now pulled out two video cameras and a still camera, and he told us we could look around all we wanted.
The gas pumps were long gone, removed years ago (why? They never had any gas!). The sign still read Bilbo’s Texas Landmark, though the building is once again up for sale. Because of this, the interior had been cleaned out of nearly all of its contents. Whilst poking around the front door (by which, only a couple of feet away, sat a small, intently-placed chainsaw- an endearing symbol of the location’s history), the man behind the “No Teeth Bar-B-Cue” called to me, telling me the door was open and that we could go inside and look around. I walked into where would normally be the storefront, turned left, and now stood in the room where Sally narrowly escapes Leatherface, only to be pummeled with a broom stick at the hands of the Cook. Before heading off to our next stop, we decided at least one of us had to brave the barbecue.
*Krystal with the Hitchhiker himself, Edwin Neal
Hidden away in the midst of the La Frontera construction project north of Austin, still lies the remains of old CR172 on Quick Hill, where both the family house (since relocated to Kingsland and transformed into a restaurant) and the “old Franklin place” (which burned to the ground many years ago) once stood. This particular stop on our tour would prove to be the most trying by a long shot, as the temperature had just hit a miserable 99°F, and we had to scale a cattle fence and tread to the top of the hill- with several boxes, bags, and shovels in tow- to get to the property that once held the family house. The land is now heavily overgrown, and barely recognizable save for- in particular- the pair of trees that surrounded the swing in front of the house, as well as a few smaller clues, like the fence that ran along the edge of the driveway, and some hints of the foundation and plumbing.
We tread through the overgrowth, unearthing occasional treasures and tokens- broken pieces of tile, shards of glass, etc.- and dug around in the excruciating heat until I was fairly certain I was moments away from vomiting and passing out (strangely appropriate considering the conditions under which the movie was filmed). And while I’d heard a lot about the construction that’s been closing in on the area, I was surprised to see exactly how close it really was- barely a bone’s throw. While the conditions were less than comfortable, and there wasn’t actually a whole lot left to see there, I’m grateful that I still had the opportunity to stand on the grounds of horror history, before it’s erased forever.
*The house The Saw built...
Bagdad Cemetery in Leander has four entrances, however the first one we took just happened to lead us directly up to C. C. Mason’s 146 year old grave. The broken column tombstone (apparently symbolizing a life cut short) was also instantly recognizable as we drove up. While the actual monument that held the “grisly work of art” seen in the opening scenes of the film was a prop set up by Tobe Hooper, we still each took turns standing in for the corpse for several photos. “LEATHERFACE IS COMING” read the sign by the street in front of the Junction House restaurant. Tonight, on the grounds next to the actual house in which the movie was filmed, would be an original 35mm screening of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Walking up to the iconic dwelling, there was an incredible, indescribable energy as fans scurried about, taking photos on the front porch, getting autographs from the cast in attendance, and eating barbecue from the tent set up in front of the restaurant (which was closed to the public for the screening- VIP pass holders only). We picked up our VIP wristbands, which included a full three course dinner in the restaurant, a Texas Chainsaw Massacre t-shirt by Mondo, entry into a drawing to win the full set of the Alamo Drafthouse Rolling Roadshow posters by Mondo, and seating front and center for the screening (and you got to keep your chair!)
*A few TCM cast & crew members...
I got myself one of the posters- a three color screen print (with metallic silver ink!) created especially for the screening by artist Jason Munn, numbered and limited to only 205 pieces- and gathered up my Texas Chainsaw Massacre poster and the (few) remaining prints of my entry for this year’s Texas Frightmare Weekend/Rue Morgue cover art contest, and headed over to the autograph area where Edwin Neal (Hitchhiker), Marilyn Burns (Sally), Allen Danziger (Jerry), and co-writer Kim Henkel were all signing. I gave Ed a photo print of me dressed as the Hitchhhiker for Halloween last year, which appeared to delight him, and Marilyn seemed particularly enthusiastic about my artwork, taking quite a bit of time to look over all of the details herself.
*Doesn't look so ominous now, but oh does that hallway have a past...
After heading back to the car long enough to safely stow my posters, it was time for the VIP dinner. As we headed inside a girl asked us if we already had our seats and, when we responded in the negative, told us there were a couple of seats at Ed Neal’s table. You could probably hear my brain turning to delighted goo as it tried to process the fact that I was seconds away from actually having dinner in the Chainsaw house with the Hitchhiker (who has, of course, been my favorite character by a long shot as long as Texas Chainsaw Massacre‘s been my favorite movie). As soon as I started sitting down, the lovely and delightful Mrs. Hitchhiker, Theresa, exclaimed “you’re the girl!”, referring back to the pictures of my Hitchhiker costume, and conversation flowed steadily and effortlessly over the fantastic three course meal.
Once we finished eating, I did a quick run through the lower level of the house for photos (staircase by the entrance, chicken room, and dining room) since we ended up eating in the part of the house that wasn’t actually used during filming, then headed outside for the screening. The inflatable screen set up outside the house was huge- even larger than the house itself. The turnout was also quite impressive, particularly considering that the announcement for this event came at fairly short notice- the numbers I’d heard thrown around with regards to attendance were in excess of five hundred.
*Krystal's signed copy of the custom poster for the event...
Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League kicked things off by inviting five ladies from the audience up for a “scream off”, and then six guys to compete in what was equal parts brilliant and grotesque: a headcheese eating contest. The prize for winning such a thing? A t-shirt, and even more headcheese. After a couple previews (including those Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and 3/Leatherface), the familiar narration began slowly scrolling up the screen. The 35mm film was beautiful in its flaws, discolored (very red), scratchy, and gritty, and there was a brief moment of “technical difficulty” when the film suddenly jumped from Sally and the Cook in the gas station to Leatherface and the Hitchhiker carrying Grandpa down the stairs for dinner- which was (fairly) quickly remedied. It had an almost “drive-in” sort of feel to it, making the experience unique and memorable.
Once the end credits had finished rolling, we were joined once again by Marilyn Burns, Ed Neal, Allen Danziger, and Kim Henkel (who doesn’t often make many appearances in relation to Chainsaw) for a Q&A session, after which an announcement was made inviting non-VIPs to tour the house. Suddenly, it was time to pack up our chairs and leave. Though we’d spent literally the entire day immersed in Chainsaw geek bliss, I wasn’t quite ready for it to all be over, so we lingered- for just a few more moments- in front of the house, while people took turns touring the inside in groups.
Tags: Alamo Drafthouse, Blood, Edwin McNeal, Fright Rags, Krystal Fancey Beck, leatherface, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Blood Sprayer