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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre


Richard C. Vara

Feb. 26,2022

Texas has been the birthplace of many odd stories and legends. This state has its share of ghost stories and serial killers. Sometimes these stories blend, and you have no idea what is real or fiction. One of these stories is the legend of the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre (TCM).” Interest in the legend has reemerged after the recent release of TCM on Netflix. Most, if not all people, are familiar with the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” movie franchise and the storyline associated with it.  A maniac with a deformity named “Leather Face” kills people, mostly teens, with a chainsaw. He then takes their lifeless body home to be processed into food for his cannibalistic family. If “Leather Face” liked your face, he would peel it off and use it as his face due to his deformity; hence, the name “Leather Face” who always escapes the law and continues to kill. 

It begs the question… is this real? Was there really a chainsaw-wielding maniac living in the backwoods of Texas and killing people? The answer to all of this is…no. None of it is real.

To find out why so many people think it is real, we must look back to the 1974 movie and the movie poster that read “inspired by a true event.” This is true, it was inspired by a true event. That tagline on the poster led people to believe it was all real. However, none of it involved a chainsaw and it never took place in Texas.

The man who inspired Kim Henkel and Tobe Hooper to write the TCM script was the serial killer Ed Gein. Gein committed his crimes in Plainfield, Wisconsin some 1,251 miles away from Texas.

Gein was a very troubled man, to say the least. He was born on August 27, 1906, in Los Crosses WI. 

An alcoholic father and domineering mother, who taught her son that women and sex were evil. Gein was raised, along with an older brother, on an isolated farm in Plainfield, Wisconsin. After Gein’s father died in 1940, the future killer’s brother died under mysterious circumstances during a fire in 1944 and his beloved mother passed away from health problems in 1945. Gein remained on the farm by himself.”

Gein did not have friends growing up and was not allowed to have any. Gein’s mother would punish him if he tried to make friends. He was also an outcast at school for being odd and too feminine.

According to Katherine Ramsland from her book “A True Necrophilia,” soon after Gein’s mother passed away he started to dress like his mother. He also began to dig up the graves of middle-aged women,

“Soon after his mother’s death, Gein began to create a ‘woman suit’ so that he could become his mother—to literally crawl into her skin.”  

 If this sounds familiar, this is because these actions also inspired the fictional character of “Buffalo Bill” in the “Silence of the Lambs,” and it was also the inspiration for Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho.”

“Leather Face” wears the faces of his victims to cover a skin disorder/ birth defect that affects his real face. Ed Gein did wear the faces of victims and used the faces of some of the bodies he stole. Ed did not do this due to a skin defect; instead, he did this in order to become his mother. This is the connection to the TCM.

There are more tangible connections to the TCM in Texas. In the small town of Bastrop, Texas you’ll find a TCM attraction known as “The Gas Station.” It became famous after being a film location for the original 1974 movie. Roy Rose and his wife Lisa bought the famous landmark nine years ago on Roy’s birthday. The Roses stay busy with people who are horror fans from all over the world. They come to visit this location to see a piece of American horror cinema. They also come to find out if it is real or not.

The Gas Station
Photo courtesy of Roy Rose

“I get messages from people from other countries. I get messages on Instagram and Facebook that believe it is real, and posts that will say ‘I can’t believe they opened the gas station where people were murdered,’ and stuff like that, and I will usually throw a little joke in there. I will say the tradition is still going on, yesterday’s customers are on today’s menu. Sometimes I feed into it a little bit. We have had messages from all over. We have had them from Switzerland, Australia the UK.” Roy Rose.

Replica TCM van.
Photo by: Frank Valdez

Cast members from the TCM franchise will come by from time to time as well as other horror movie celebrities. Every year the Roses host the Cult Classic Convention featuring Horror movie stars from TCM and other movies such as “Jeepers Creepers.” They are hosting the convention this weekend at the Bastrop Convention Center. Bill Johnson who played “Leather Face” in TCM part two will be in attendance along with the sound and music designer Wayne Bell. Mr. Rose had this to say about the Gas Station visits,

“It’s just an experience, especially for a first-time fan coming there. When you come down the 304 and you are coming around that bend and you can just see it off in the distance to the left of you, it’s like the first time I saw it, it was like wow! You can’t believe it, holy smokes. Me and my wife walked the grounds, and we were just in amazement.”

Memorial bench
photo by: Frank Valdez

You can do a lot more than visit the Gas Station, you can also rent a cabin and make it a weekend getaway and enjoy some of the BBQ that the locals come in to buy all the time. You can also come out to events there such as meeting C. J. Graham who played Jason Voorhees in “Friday the 13th” part six or take in a live concert on their newly built stage.

Some visitors also make their way to Kingsland, Texas and visit the original TCM house, and have a fine dining experience. The house has been restored to its former glory and is now the Grand Central Café serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can also enjoy a TCM-themed drink such as a Leather Face Lemonade or a Bloody Massacre, it’s a Bloody Mary made from habanero-infused vodka. Teya Patterson gives tours of the famous house to thousands of visitors every year.

Steak dinner.
Photo courtesy of Teya Patterson

“I do a lot of the tours of the house. I get a lot of people who come from out of the country who come here, who watch a lot of scary movies. When people come to Texas, this is one of their stops. They always want to see the ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ house.” Patterson. 

One of the most popular questions Teya gets on the tours is,

“Is it a true story? At least 50 percent of the people that come through believe it’s real and they will tell me they know it’s real or they knew somebody who escaped it. I don’t like to burst some people’s bubble. I just go on to tell them about the history.” Patterson.

Teya is very enthusiastic about explaining the history of the house. Not only is it famous for its filming location, but it also holds a couple of other honors,

“It’s an early 1900s Queen Anne style cottage. It was first bought through a Sears and Roebuck magazine in 1909, I find that fascinating because not a lot of those houses are still around.” Patterson.

TCM house.
Photo courtesy of Teya Patterson

Teya enjoys all her visitors; however, she is impressed by the ones who come over from the UK and who are defiantly very passionate about Texas and TCM house. One of her more memorable visitors was a South African rugby team that came to visit the house,

“They were just in love and could not believe they were here in the ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ house. ‘We want a picture with you the Texans and everybody.’” Patterson.

If you come down to Texas, you can rest assure that there is no chainsaw-wielding maniac living in the backwoods looking for his next victims. However, you can come for a visit and see some movie memorabilia, enjoy a plate of bar-b-que, or sip on some “Leather Face” Lemonade.

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