Garland hosts first ‘It Came From Texas’ horror film festival

The event is a two-day celebration of campy horror movies from the 1950s and 1960s.

By Glorie G. MartinezOctober 25, 2023 10:30 am, ,

Something wicked is coming to Garland this October.

The city is set to host the inaugural It Came From Texas Film Festival, a two-day celebration of fun, campy horror movies from the 50s and 60s – many of which were filmed in the Lone Star State. A few titles might immediately come to mind, but the festival will also feature some hidden gems. 

The festival’s director, Kelly Kitchens, joined the Standard to talk about what the event has to offer. Listen to the interview above or read the transcript below.

This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity:

Texas Standard: I don’t think of Garland as a particularly spooky city. Why are you embracing this genre? 

Kelly Kitchens: Well, you know what? Garland actually has a very quirky and campy arts scene, and they are leaning into that with this festival. 

That makes a whole lot of sense. A couple of titles come to mind when you think of the horror genre, and most of them have the name “Leatherface” attached

Well, yes. 

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Obviously, not everything is “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” But that’s a big part of it, I would imagine.

Oh, my goodness. We started with “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” Since we’re holding the event that last weekend before Halloween, we’re like, “hello, ‘Texas’ is in the title. We’ve got to go with that, right?” 

We are honoring “Texas Chainsaw.” It is a crown jewel of the genre. But it was really different from everything that came before it.

In the fifties and sixties, the films that went straight to the drive-ins, like “Attack of the Eye Creatures” and “Giant Gila Monster” and “Zontar, the Thing from Venus.” Those films – you can laugh at them, and it’s not scary. But, “Texas Chainsaw”? Yeah, really scary. 

Why campy B-movies for the festival’s first year? Why are they so important to Texas film history?

The films that were made here in the 50s and 60s really came out of the desire for oil barons in Texas to get a slice of that Hollywood pie. They were making films very quickly, putting them into the drive-in.

We want to honor that, because how can you see any of that anymore? You see it on your television, you see it on your computer, but seeing it on the big screen with an audience that appreciates it just as much…

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How did you go about selecting the lineup for the festival? 

We did a fundraiser with the Dallas Producers Association called “It Came From Dallas.” Doing that from 2005 to 2017, we found all these films.

Gordon Smith is a film historian that studies B-movies that were made in Texas. We’re leaning on him for this, and we’re able to go even wider with movies like “Manos: The Hands of Faith” that was made in El Paso. We have all of Texas.

Tell us a little bit about what you have planned for this festival. How do you intend to celebrate these films? 

We are starting on Saturday morning at 11 a.m. with a double feature. Then, we go straight into a documentary that is about Bob Burns, who is the artistic director for “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” We’ll have a dinner break, and then we come back for a “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”

Our guests this weekend are going to be Ron Bozman and Kim Henkel. Kim Henkel was the guy who came up with the story for “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” He co-wrote the screenplay with Tobe Hooper, who also directed.

Ron Bozman went on to be an Academy Award winner. He got a producing credit for Best Picture for “The Silence of the Lambs.” He was a production manager on “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” and he graduated from Garland High School in 1965. 

Why is it that Texas seems to have become a center for a lot of horror features? 

I really think that it was and is such a great place to make films, because we’ve got this structure, we’ve got the land, we’ve got the locations – everything from the coast to the mountains and everything in between. We’ve got the crews. We have the talent. Texas is just teeming with talent, and really has been for a long time. 

“Wings,” the very first Oscar Best Picture, was filmed in San Antonio. We have a rich, full, long history here in Texas of making films. We want to celebrate these films, because there’s so much fun and scares to be had around Halloween. We’ll see where we go from here.

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