The creepy gas station from the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is still standing in Bastrop, Texas. Known simply as The Gas Station, this slice of movie history has been restored to look as it did in the 1974 movie and turned into a horror-themed BBQ joint and hotel.
Owners Roy and Lisa Rose are longtime fans of the movie and moved from Cleveland to Bastrop to tackle the project. The couple's business partner, Ari Lehman, is more than knowledgeable about horror movies — he starred in one. Lehman played Jason Voorhees in the original Friday the 13th (1980).
For years, the building was a decrepit mess in danger of collapse, but now the scariest gas station in pop culture history has been restored to its gory days.
Known simply as The Gas Station, it was retro-restored and opened in October 2016. A sign proudly states, just as it did in the movie, "We Slaughter Barbeque" — though visitors won't have to worry about the meat source this time around.
The restoration process was a labor of love for the Roses, who are big fans of the movie. Roy says it's been his favorite film since he was 10 years old. He saw it on VHS with his friends (and his mom and her friend, for parental guidance) during his birthday sleepover.
"I was watching the movie and I was watching my mom's friend squirm, and watching them cover their eyes and just liked it more and more... It wasn't like any other movie I had seen," he told SYFY WIRE.
Since then, Roy's seen the original Chain Saw "probably around 100 times." What about all of those remakes/reboots/sequels/prequels?
"I'm not a fan of the remakes," he says. "We don't sell any of the merchandise from that film at The Gas Station and I don't personally acknowledge it as a Chain Saw film."
But there's no purist pretense here.
Roy's not here to be a critic. He's more like a sort of Texas historian and The Gas Station is his museum.
From the BBQ served — a combination of family recipes passed down from one of the building's former owners and cooks — to the mountain of Chain Saw memorabilia (Roy may very well have the biggest collection in the world), The Gas Station is a snapshot of a bygone era.
Remember when picking up hitchhikers wasn't completely out of the norm? Or when cell phones and Google Maps didn't exist, so you had to rely on the directions from strangers?
It's important to keep those memories alive, even if it's only as a warning of what not to do.
Chain Saw's a good fable.
The movie isn't a true story, but the plot's memorable nonetheless. There are five teenagers on a road trip: What could go wrong?
Well, they pick up a hitchhiker and later one of them decides to walk into a stranger's house in the middle of nowhere.
The gas station shows up early in the movie, as the teens pile out of the van for a pit stop. It's called the Last Chance Gas Station, but there's no gas... only barbeque of an unknown origin for sale.
Fans can take their chances, Roy says. Chili and plates of brisket and sausage are being served daily at The Gas Station's outdoor pavilion.
And diehard fans can stay the night in one of the four cabins on the property. The cabins are a nice mental institution green on the outside, with red-and-black walls inside (like my soul). The restroom stalls feature a hammer instead of a doorknob in homage to Leatherface's initial weapon of choice in the movie.
Roy has the real hammer Leatherface uses to wack Kirk (played by actor Bill Vale) into seizures, and if you ask him real nice he may let you hold it.
There's a reason why Chain Saw keeps people coming back for more.
"The Chain Saw fans, we're a smaller fanbase than your other horror movies like Halloween, Friday the 13th, but I think we're more diehard. We're smaller in numbers but we're bigger at heart," Roy says.