Saturday, April 20, 2019

The Undertaker & His Pals: Gone But Not Forgotten III

The last entry from the Undertaker was 2011. Many genre actors have left this world since then. As before, this third requiem for the deceased features the newly departed and some who have gone well before.

SHANE RIMMER (May 28th, 1929--March 29th, 2019)

Shane Rimmer was a character and voice actor who appeared in dozens of movies and television programs. Something of a Canadian Dick Miller, Rimmer was one of those actors whom you may not know his name but you know his face and voice. It's his voice that fans of the popular marionette series THUNDERBIRDS (1965-1966) will remember him best. He had a sizable, memorable role in a personal favorite, THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT (1977)--acting alongside Patrick Wayne, Sarah Douglas, and Thorley Walters. That same year he appeared with Roger Moore in one of the best Bond's THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (1977). He returned to monster pictures in 1978 with another crucial role in WARLORDS OF ATLANTIS. He passed away at his home in England at 89 years of age.

JOSEPH PILATO (March 16th, 1949--March 24th, 2019)

As good of an actor as he was, Joe Pilato had a surprisingly small amount of credits, and even fewer roles of substance. This was unfortunate as his iconic portrayal of Captain Rhodes was the best thing about DAY OF THE DEAD (1985) next to Tom Savini's spectacular zombie gore. He had small roles in other Romero movies like the original DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978) and KNIGHTRIDERS (1981). EFFECTS (1980) was another major role for the actor. You can also spot him in flicks like ALIENATOR (1990) and WISHMASTER (1997). Always seeming to have a genial rapport with his fans, Pilato died in his sleep eight days after his 70th birthday.

LARRY COHEN (July 15th, 1941--March 23rd, 2019)

Writer, producer, and director Larry Cohen's name is attached to a varied list of movies and television spanning many genres. He's most widely associated with horror films, particularly those he directed. The most famous of these would be the IT'S ALIVE trilogy--those being IT'S ALIVE (1974), IT LIVES AGAIN (1978), and IT'S ALIVE 3: ISLAND OF THE ALIVE (1987). Other cult faves bearing the Cohen name as director are the monster movie Q (1982) and the gory blob flick THE STUFF (1985). The director contributed to the Black Action genre, delivering a heavy duty classic starring Fred Williamson titled BLACK CAESAR (1972) and a sequel, HELL UP IN HARLEM (1973). Occasionally dealing in provocative themes like GOD TOLD ME TO (1976), Cohen's quirkiness was his signature style. His first writing credit was on RETURN OF THE SEVEN (1966), the sequel to the western classic THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960). Cohen was prone to write his own films, owing to his uniqueness as a filmmaker. He died of undisclosed causes at 77 years of age.

JOHN CARL BUECHLER (June 18th, 1952--March 18th, 2019)

It's not unusual for a special effects makeup artist to branch out into directing and John Carl Buechler was one of the first to do so. Getting his start with Roger Corman's New World Pictures, Buechler eventually found himself toiling away on numerous Charles Band's Empire Pictures productions (DUNGEONMASTER, RE-ANIMATOR, DOLLS, etc) prior to directing his own feature films. Possibly best known for his 'little rubber creature' work on pictures like the GHOULIES series and TROLL (1986), he stunned a lot of fans with his radical design for Jason Voorhees in FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 7: THE NEW BLOOD (1987), a film he also directed. Buechler worked on the Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers horror franchises as well. Prostate cancer took his life at 66 years of age.

MORGAN WOODWARD (September 16th, 1925-February 22nd, 2019)

An old-school Tough Guy, the Texas WWII and Korean War veteran became one of Hollywood's most prolific and well liked actors. Appearing in numerous westerns, some of his best appearances were on GUNSMOKE (1955-1975). The cast and crew were so fond of Woodward, he ended up being a guest star on 19 occasions; the most of any actor guesting on the show. Some of his other famous TV work was as recurring characters in 81 episodes of THE LIFE AND TIMES OF WYATT EARP (1955-1961) and 55 episodes of DALLAS (1978-1991). Two appearances on STAR TREK (1966-1969) are beloved by fans of the original series. Arguably his most famous portrayal onscreen was as 'The Man With No Eyes' in the Paul Newman favorite COOL HAND LUKE (1967). Woodward lent his talents to several Drive-in movies like A SMALL TOWN IN TEXAS (1976); FINAL CHAPTER: WALKING TALL (1977); and MOONSHINE COUNTY EXPRESS (1977). Morgan Woodward died at home of natural causes at age 93.

BEVERLEY OWEN (May 13th, 1937--February 21st, 2019)

The beautiful Iowa native did very little in the industry, but her 13 episodes of THE MUNSTERS (1964-1966) solidified her popularity. The series only lasted two seasons, but has remained an American staple ever since. The original Marilyn Munster, Owen left the series to get married. She was replaced by Pat Priest, who looked so much like Owen, you'd think she never left the show. Aside from several TV appearances outside of her Munster Family, she did one movie, BULLET FOR A BADMAN (1964) starring Audie Murphy, Darren McGavin, and Ruta Lee. Dying from ovarian cancer, Beverley Owen was 81.

CHELO ALONSO (April 10th, 1933--February 20th, 2019)

Cuban dancer/actress/singer Chelo Alonso (Isabel Apollonia García Hernández) was famous for performing sensual dances and or playing Queens and seductive rulers in numerous Italian muscleman and gladiator movies beginning in the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s. Europe's version of Debra Paget, some of Chelo Alonso's best work can be seen in GOLIATH AND THE BARBARIANS (1959) with Steve Reeves and MACISTE IN THE VALLEY OF THE KINGS (1961) with Mark Forest. Her sexually-charged gyrations could hypnotize the hardest of men to succumb to her charms. She left the film world for the small screen in the mid-60s and briefly returned to the big screen a few years later before retiring in 1968 to take care of her family. Making her home in Italy after the Castro/Che takeover of Cuba, Ms. Alonso died aged 85, leaving behind over a dozen exotic, often strong, and very sexy performances.

JAN MICHAEL VINCENT (July 15th, 1945--February 10th, 2019)

A promising young actor who found success and lost it due to self-destructive impulses, Jan Michael Vincent had all the signs of greatness in the making. Constant battles with alcohol and drugs, and a string of near-fatal car accidents nearly killed him. A well-rounded actor, he showed a penchant for action roles. His most famous was as Stringfellow Hawke on AIRWOLF (1984-1987), an action-oriented television series co-starring Ernest Borgnine. Other worthy roles came opposite Charles Bronson in THE MECHANIC (1972); headlining the WALKING TALL (1973) trucker movie WHITE LINE FEVER (1975); the hero to Kris Kristofferson's villain in the modern day western VIGILANTE FORCE (1976); and alongside Burt Reynolds in the stuntman action comedy HOOPER (1978). Vincent was dead a month before it was reported. He died aged 73 from cardiac arrest.

JULIE ADAMS (October 17th, 1926--February 3rd, 2019)

The star of dozens of westerns and television programs, the prolific Julie Adams (sometimes billed as Julia) is most famous for being the object of the Gill Man's affection in the 1954 Uni-horror classic, THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON. Out of all the imagery of monsters carrying women, the Gill Man hauling off a screaming Julie Adams is among the most iconic. She appeared in a few other horror pictures and worked opposite Elvis in TICKLE ME (1965) but CREATURE is what she is forever associated with. She was married to actor Ray Danton from 1954-1981 (he died in 1992). Julie Adams was 92.

DICK MILLER (December 25th, 1928--January 30th, 2019)

One of Horror-SciFi cinema's most celebrated and recognizable faces, the immensely popular character actor Dick Miller was one of those guys you may not know by name, but his face and voice is unmistakable. Famous for countless supporting roles and cameos, he had a handful of leads back in the good ole days headlining low budget Roger Corman flicks like WAR OF THE SATELLITES (1958) and A BUCKET OF BLOOD (1959). Some of his fan-favorite roles were as the lake resort owner in PIRANHA (1978); the librarian in THE HOWLING (1981); the gun shop salesman in THE TERMINATOR (1984); and Mr. Futterman, the WWII vet who encounters GREMLINS (1984). Miller passed from natural causes aged 90.

PETER WYNGARDE (August 23rd, 1927--January 15th, 2018)

The eccentric actor with the stylish fashion sense had a convoluted past what with his birth place and age having never been officially verified. Wyngarde acted on both the stage and on the big and small screens. He's famous for playing Jason King on two British spy programs DEPARTMENT S (1969-1970) and JASON KING (1971-1972). Genre fans will likely know him best from the witchcraft favorite NIGHT OF THE EAGLE (1963), aka BURN, WITCH, BURN!; and as the golden-masked Klytus in the cult classic FLASH GORDON (1980). He died in a London hospital from undisclosed causes at 90 years old.

BRADFORD DILLMAN (April 14th, 1930--January 16th, 2018)

Dillman starred in an abundance of film and television work including a steady stream of fan favorites during the 1970s. He was one of the few friends to Cornelius and Zira in ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES (1971); was one of the CHOSEN SURVIVORS (1974) battling bats in an underground bomb shelter; communicated with fire-breathing roaches in BUG (1975); played John Wilkes Booth in THE LINCOLN CONSPIRACY (1977); and confronted violent nature again in THE SWARM and PIRANHA (both 1978). He also starred in two of Eastwood's DIRTY HARRY epics, THE ENFORCER (1976) and SUDDEN IMPACT (1982). Pneumonia took Bradford Dillman at age 87.

LEWIS GILBERT (March 6th, 1920--February 23rd, 2018)

Director, producer and writer of dramas and war pictures, Lewis Gilbert found himself directing some of the best James Bond movies--first with YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE in 1967. After directing Connery's Bond joining forces with ninjas, Gilbert guided two of Roger Moore's best in THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (1977) and MOONRAKER (1979). The director was very vocal about his disdain for having helmed THE ADVENTURERS in 1970. A critical and box office misfire, it has since been embraced as one of the best bad movies ever made. Aside from his Bond endeavors, his other recognized works are SINK THE BISMARK! (1960) and ALFIE (1966). Lewis Gilbert died of undisclosed causes at 97 years of age.

MARGOT KIDDER (October 17th, 1948--May 13th, 2018)

While she did a variety of roles during her career, Ms. Kidder will always be remembered as the feisty Lois Lane in the four SUPERMAN movies from 1978-1987 starring Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel. Her horror work includes SISTERS (1973), the innovative proto-slasher classic BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974), THE AMITYVILLE HORROR (1979), and HALLOWEEN 2 (2009). Margot Kidder took her own life after overdosing on a combination of drugs and alcohol at age 69.

CLINT WALKER (May 30th, 1927--May 21st, 2018)

Standing 6'6", old-school Tough Guy Clint Walker was an imposing force on both the big and small screen. He became famous for playing Cheyenne Bodie on seven seasons of CHEYENNE (1955-1963). He starred in several westerns, the most notable being NIGHT OF THE GRIZZLY (1966) where Walker took on both Leo Gordon and a rampaging grizzly bear. The actor played Samson Posey, a big man who didn't like to be pushed, in his biggest hit THE DIRTY DOZEN (1967). Walker did some small screen SciFi and Horror with the cult favorite KILLDOZER and the obscure Dan Curtis spooker SCREAM OF THE WOLF (both 1974); and then as a Colorado sheriff with a Bigfoot problem in SNOWBEAST (1977). He nearly died in 1971 when he fell off a ski lift impaling himself on a ski pole. Congestive heart failure took the big man at the ripe old age of 90.

DEANNA LUND (May 30th, 1937--June 22nd, 2018)

The beautiful Ms. Lund appeared in both mediums but it's her small screen work on the Irwin Allen SciFi series LAND OF THE GIANTS (1968-1970) that she is best remembered. In movies, she had minor or small roles in movies like DR. GOLDFOOT AND THE BIKINI MACHINE (1965); the Elvis flick PARADISE, HAWAIIAN STYLE (1966); the obscure SciFi-Spy picture DIMENSION 5 (1966); the Made For TV thriller REVENGE FOR A RAPE (1976); and the action-drama, STICK (1985) directed by and starring Burt Reynolds. Deanna Lund even ended up in two Italian pictures in the late 1980s--Enzo Castellari's HAMMERHEAD (1987) and Alessandro Capone's SUPERSTITION 2 (1989). A few weeks after her 81st birthday the actress died at home from pancreatic cancer.

ROGER PERRY (May 7th, 1933--July 12th, 2018)

Roger Perry may have been resigned to the small screen for much of his career, but he left an indelible image in three AIP theatrical motion pictures; those being COUNT YORGA, VAMPIRE (1970), THE RETURN OF COUNT YORGA (1971), and THE THING WITH TWO HEADS (1972). The two YORGA's afforded him lead roles while the third saw Perry acting as support to Ray Milland and Rosey Grier. Unfortunately, that was the extent of his Horror/Fantasy work on the big screen. Still, fans also know him from THE MUNSTERS (1964-1966) episode, 'A Man For Marilyn'; and a memorable STAR TREK (1966-1969) episode, 'Tomorrow Is Yesterday'. Prostate cancer took Roger Perry from the world at age 85.

BURT REYNOLDS (February 11th, 1936--September 6th, 2018)

One of the most popular actors in the world, Burt Reynolds will forever be identified with his string of Southern Fried movies--the biggest being the race car/chase pictures of the SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT and CANNONBALL RUN series'. One of Hollywood's most versatile leading men, Reynold's worked behind the camera as well; directing numerous productions, one of which is among his best works--SHARKEY'S MACHINE from 1981. He did a lot of action movies, but never became an action hero, Burt Reynolds worked in virtually every genre. Some of his own favorite work includes DELIVERANCE (1972), THE LONGEST YARD (1974), SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT (1977), and his three seasons of GUNSMOKE (1955-1975) where he played Indian half-breed, Quint Asper from 1962-1965. Burt Reynolds died from a heart attack in a Florida hospital at age 82.

TOMAS MILIAN (March 3rd, 1933--March 22nd, 2017)

One of Europe's best-loved actors, Cuban American Tomas Milian is famous for a healthy stream of Italian westerns and crime pictures in the 1960s and 1970s. The temperamental film star brought something different to his roles--whether through costumes or character quirks--that made him stand out from everyone else. Some of his comedic roles like Monnezza and Nico Giraldi became iconic in Italy. Attaining cult status in America, some of his work in the US include REVENGE (1990), JFK (1991), FOOLS RUSH IN (1997), AMISTAD (1997), and TRAFFIC (2000). Eugenio Martin's THE BOUNTY KILLER (1966) put him on the map as a western star. Several of his best titles include THE BIG GUNDOWN (1966), FACE TO FACE (1967), DON'T TORTURE A DUCKLING (1972), THE COUNSELLOR (1973), ALMOST HUMAN (1974), SYNDICATE SADISTS (1975), ROME ARMED TO THE TEETH (1976), THE COP IN BLUE JEANS (1976), and THE CYNIC, THE RAT AND THE FIST (1977). Tomas Milian was found dead at his Miami, Florida home having suffered a stroke. He was 84 years old.

TOBE HOOPER (January 25th, 1943--August 26th, 2017)

Texas-born Tobe Hooper will always be remembered for helming one of horror cinema's most ferocious pictures, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974). It's his greatest accomplishment, but one of a handful of genre-worthy pictures bearing his name as director. His Made For TV adaptation of Stephen King's SALEM'S LOT (1979) remains the scariest vampire movie ever made; THE FUNHOUSE (1981) was a unique slasher experience tapping into the dark recesses of carnival life; POLTERGEIST (1982) was the director's biggest production up to that point--an elaborate ghost story that became a big hit in 1982. Hooper sequelized his own chainsaw classic in 1986 with THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2. It divided fans at the time but has since become highly regarded as a worthy sequel. EATEN ALIVE (1977) isn't a great film, but it's worth mentioning as it feels like a followup to his 1974 Texas-lensed favorite. Granted, Hooper's career in the late 80s saw a decline in quality, but his early films have a sophistication about them that earns him a spot alongside the greatest directors of horror. Tobe Hooper would die from natural causes aged 74.


Monday, April 8, 2019

Meat and Eat: Consumed By The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Tobe Hooper's THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974) is one of the greatest, most terrifying, and influential horror movies ever made. Its uniqueness lies in its power to manipulate the viewer into thinking they've witnessed far more than they've actually seen. Nowadays, nothing is left to the imagination. In the landscape of horror, a lot has changed in the 45 years since the SAW roared across theater screens around the world. What hasn't changed is much of rural Americana where Hooper and his crew shot the movie. Traveling through some of the bucolic areas of Texas is like stepping into a time warp--going back to the time in which Hooper's Grand Guignol version of 'Hansel and Gretal' was forged onto 16mm film stock.

TCM is such a part of the American (and especially Texas) pop culture lexicon, that two of its most recognizable structures have been remodeled for the horror lovers starved for nostalgia and those with an affinity for good eats. 

This article is a personal look at TCM and its locations visited on a recent Texas vacation. Accompanying the photographs I took are comparative images of said locations from the film itself. But before that, I'd like to divulge how I was first introduced to the 1974 meat movie classick.

The first time I saw TCM was in 1984. Media Home Entertainment was releasing it on videocassette (Wizard Video had released it the previous year). I saw a big poster for its impending arrival inside a local video store called Action Video. I'd first read about the movie that same year in a book my mom bought for me at Waldenbooks in the mall called 'Horrors: A History of Horror Movies' by Roy Pickard and Tom Hutchinson (a book which I still have). The image (seen below) of a masked, chainsaw wielding maniac chasing a man and a woman stuck in my mind like Teri McMinn being stuck on a meat-hook and never left. 

Aside from the visual impression left by what little imagery I'd seen of the film, I heard a lot more about it from family members after asking if they'd seen it. Come to find out, my parents attended a theatrical showing back in 1974. My mom isn't a horror fan, but tried being a trooper by going with my dad to see it and, predictably, it didn't make her 'Best Of' list for the year. She told me the movie unnerved her to the point she had to go sit in the lobby for a while. Regaining her composure, she decided to go back inside to try and finish the flick with my dad. However, once Grandpa began sucking the blood from Sally's finger like a baby to a bottle my mom had had enough--once more returning to the lobby where she remained till the film was over. Needless to say, my dad enjoyed the movie so much, he returned to see the film again by himself.

I remember being transfixed not only by that mind-melting image in my beloved hardcover book of horror films, but by that video store poster. The title alone evoked images of brutality the likes of which my mind couldn't comprehend. 'Texas' with its reputation for being a wild n' rowdy place where everything's big from belts, to boots, to ten-gallon hats; where people perspire profusely--the sun-baked sweat sticking to you like jam; 'Chainsaw' being a loud, terrifying power tool that can slice through human flesh like a hot knife through butter; and 'Massacre' eliciting disturbing imagery of some savage slaughter-fest. When you're a 9 year old with a wild, vivid imagination, something bearing the name of 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' is too hard to resist. The filmmakers couldn't have settled on a more unsettling title. 

When we left the video store, I let my dad know I wanted to see the movie. Despite having then viewed some characteristically gruesome horror at that time, his response to me was, "Why would you want to see something like that?" When I did finally see it, I was somewhat disappointed by TCM. I'd been under the impression there was this incredible amount of gore in the movie (it was featured in John McCarty's seminal 'Splatter Movies' book; a book I coveted but didn't get to buy till years later). I also remember being frustrated with the VHS being awfully dark--barely able to make out what was happening in some of the death scenes. Needless to say, my little-league self was curiously underwhelmed but had no problem being braggadocios about having seen this notorious motion picture.

That same year in 1984, I saw PIECES on VHS (it played in my small town for a week back in 1983) and felt like that was a real Chainsaw Massacre in comparison. However, watching Hooper's movie over the years, it quickly improved for me and I eventually came to greatly appreciate his vision for the nightmarish classic it is. I can only imagine what it must've been like to see the movie during its original release, experiencing the visceral horror and controversy first-hand.

And as much as I came to love Hooper's greatest achievement, the aforementioned Texas vacation to see some of the shooting locations has only increased my adoration for THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974).


Since 1974, the iconic gas stop where Jim Siedow's Cook character sold gas and human BBQ became a roadside grocery store; then Bilbo's Texas Landmark before closing sometime in 2006. A decade later, the location would receive a lavish makeover--transformed into retro-heaven for horror lovers. 

An Ohio businessman named Roy Rose (along with his wife, Lisa) bought the decaying fuel stop and partnered with Ari Lehman--a name horror fans will know as the actor that played Jason Voorhees in the first FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980)--to create a novel, one-of-a-kind horror resort. Prior to its public opening, the iconic Bastrop film location was reported to bear the name, 'We Slaughter Barbecue'; the owners eventually settled on simplicity with 'The Gas Station'

The Gas Station had its grand opening October 8th, 2016 with hundreds of horror fans and curiosity seekers waiting near three hours to get inside to take a gander at, or purchase, a wide array of memorabilia from CHAINSAW and a variety of other horror favorites. Edwin Neal, the Hitchhiker from the original movie, attended the opening with SAW 2's Caroline Williams appearing that Halloween weekend. If you're feeling adventurous, you can spend the night in one of four cozy cabins out back or set up a tent on the campgrounds. Additionally, there's a large patio and the occasional outdoor movie night. A music venue was announced as one of the site's future attractions. You can see a glimpse of the area behind the filling station in the insert photo.

Elsewhere on the grounds, a van sits to the right of the establishment--the only one that could be found that's nearly identical to the one in the movie; the difference being it doesn't have the sliding door. Incidentally, the farm across the street appears unchanged all these years later. Additionally, behind the service station is the wooded area where Sally was relentlessly chased by Leatherface shortly before running into the cook.

When the famous gas stop first re-opened for business, the accent was on movie memorabilia. There's numerous T-shirts, masks action-figures, posters, signed photographs, and any number of other horror-related items inside the place. The smokehouse soon followed and The Gas Station is now home to some of the best, juiciest BBQ you'll ever put in your mouth. Interestingly enough, a few Texans told me how much they loved and preferred North Carolina BBQ while their own brand of brisket left as big an impression on me as Hooper's movie and seeing the areas where he made it.

The gentleman behind the counter told me that on one particularly eventful day, they had visitors from every continent except for Antarctica.

He also told me a funny story about one customer that stopped by and talked at length how TCM was her favorite movie of all time. What the lady didn't realize was that Allen Danzinger (Jerry in the movie) was sitting next to her the whole time she was gushing praise for the movie. 

A memorial to the TCM family who have fallen has been placed outside to the far right of the establishment. Seated on either end are replicas of a chainsaw, a sledgehammer and a Leatherface mask, the memorial bears thus far seven names of the deceased who worked on the movie--director Tobe Hooper; production designer Bob Burns; actors Gunnar Hansen (Leatherface); Marilyn Burns (Sally); Jim Siedow (The Cook); Paul Partain (Franklin); and Robert Courtin (Window Washer).

On a final note, I never realized the gas station sign in the movie read 'We Slaughter Barbecue' till seeing it in person.

If you are interested in visiting The Gas Station, stay the night, or eat some delicious BBQ (and you should be!), you can find information at their website HERE.


Built in 1909 in Round Rock, Texas, the Victorian style house was left to deteriorate after filming of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974) had ended. Purchased in 1998 by the owners of The Antlers Inn and Resort, the iconic horror home was cut into seven pieces and moved--approximately 90 minutes away--to the lake town of Kingsland, Texas where it was remodeled and transformed into a restaurant and bar. Now, you too can dine inside the very home where the Sawyer's tortured, cooked and ate their victims. Only now it's much cleaner and far more hospitable without any danger of you ending up as a menu item.

Seeing the original location of the Sawyer house in Round Rock today is a dreamlike experience. In the film, the isolated farmhouse harboring human remains is notable for its lack of modernity. Today, the locale is overgrown with grass and bordered by an ever-expanding Austin industrialization that's in stark contrast to the desolate country roads of 40+ years ago. In the adjoining photo, you can see Edwin Neal and Gunnar Hansen chasing Marilyn Burns down the driveway with nothing but a country landscape. Stitched to that is a picture of the same driveway but surrounded by lights and an encroaching modernization slowly choking away the lack of civilization the area was once home to.

Before becoming The Grand Central Cafe, the infamous charnel house went by a few different names--those being The Chariot Grill and The Junction House Restaurant. At that time, the establishment embraced its horror roots, having a Leatherface dummy at the top of the stairs. When the Junction House closed down in 2012, reopening the following year as The Grand Central Cafe, the dummy was removed and only a loose association to the movie was retained with a couple TCM-themed drinks on the menu--the 'Leatherface Lemonade' and the 'Bloody Massacre'. Moreover, the menus between the two restaurants were quite different. The Junction offered more comfort food items while The Grand is more upscale.

Some changes and additions have been made to the house, but immediately upon entering, a few key locations are unmistakable; those being the unforgettable staircase and hallway leading into the kitchen where Leatherface infamously slammed the metal door after claiming his first victim. You can see a 'then and now' comparison in the insert photo. The place was filling up with customers, but I was lucky enough to snap a picture of the hallway when no one was walking into frame. To the left is the notorious Bone Room; and across the hall is the legendary Dining Room where much of Marilyn Burns' torture takes place. You can see a comparison below of the same room in the film versus what it looks like now. We sat at the table in front of that mural.

Regardless of where you're seated in the house, if you're a fan of the movie, it will be impossible to not have images of the film running through your mind as you enjoy your meal. As for the food, I had the Hawg Wings appetizer and Surf and Turf (bacon-wrapped filet mignon with grilled shrimp) for the main course. Both were fantastic if a little on the expensive side.

If you're interested in dining there (and you should be!), you can find information about the restaurant, its location, and the menu at their website HERE.

Tobe Hooper's THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE is a distinctive motion picture; a product of its time made in a docu-guerrilla style that is impossible to replicate today. It has survived for decades. The Saw shows no signs of slowing down. Like the opening crawl of TCM2 proclaims, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has not stopped. It haunts Texas. It seems to have no end." From a fan's perspective, seeing these locations, interacting with them, was a mesmerizing, surreal experience; allowing fans to make some personable memories to share kinship with those previously made in darkened theaters or the comfort of ones living room.

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