Christopher P. Garntano, director of the 2005 documentary HORROR BUSINESS and the upcoming THE HORROR OF DANTE TOMASELLI, gave Fango the scoop on his latest project, SOUTH TEXAS BLUES. “I’m planning for principal photography to commence in Austin, Texas in March 2007,” Garetano tells us. “I don’t want to rush this production; everything needs to be just right and I won’t have it any other way, so March ’07 is our lucky number.” The Fortuneteller Films project will be “one part documentary, one part period drama and one part cinematic recreation,” according to the film’s press release, and will follow the making of Tobe Hooper’s classic THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. Written by Garetano, SOUTH TEXAS BLUES aims to meticulously detail CHAINSAW’s production “from the first inspiration to the last day of shooting—faithfully recreated according to the testimonies of the survivors.”
With a cast yet to be announced, Tomaselli (SATAN’S PLAYGROUND) will serve as associate producer, with original CHAINSAW star Edwin (“The Hitchhiker”) Neal on board as a consultant; other alumni are expected to participate as well. Garetano, will produce with film critic and journalist Elaine Lamkin. “This project has been rolling around in my brain for quite some time,” Garetano says. “I’ve always been fascinated by the many outrageous stories and legends that surround [CHAINSAW’s] production—the insane conditions, the madness and the long hours. SOUTH TEXAS BLUES will explore the gritty and visceral reasons why CHAINSAW worked so well as a horror film and what combination of elements [on set] leaked into the celluloid.”
The press release further reveals, “During many of the pivotal dramatic moments, the action and actors will literally freeze as if time stands still. Then one of the actual survivors of the [CHAINSAW] cast and crew will walk back into this frozen moment in time and explain what they were feeling when the moment originally occurred.” In keeping with his desire for a faithful recreation, Garetano will use the “same grade of film stock, lights and lenses that were used for the original classic. There are two very distinct looks to SOUTH TEXAS BLUES: One is our own devised look for the dramatic sequences and the other will be a precise 16mm recreation [of CHAINSAW] through our working prop camera. I have a very solid plan of how this film needs to be photographed.
“I’m going to show what happened on that set, the real moments that created the incredible intensity for Tobe Hooper’s camera,” Garetano says of this “dream project.” “There was rotting meat on the table, a funeral pyre of burning animals outside that filled the house with putrid smoke and smells. People were exhausted, throwing up; there was screaming and absolute madness amongst the cast and crew. This will all be meticulously re-expressed in my film. I don’t want to reveal everything right away, but the film will open with a dramatic interpretation of Tobe Hooper’s tale of how he first conceived the idea [for CHAINSAW].”
Garetano’s reluctance to expound on BLUES’ conceived opening is overwhelmed by his enthusiasm, however, and he recalls what has now become filmic legend. “[Tobe] was in a department store during the holiday rush to buy gifts. He was feeling quite claustrophobic and began to focus on a set of chainsaws that were on sale. He then pacified himself by fantasizing about cutting through the crowd with one of them. Think of this scene as a blood-spattered chainsaw ballet, marking the conception of the most terrifying motion picture of all time. This scene will lead us into the rest of the story.”
With filming to take place “at many of the actual locations, including the original house,” which was moved to Kingsland, TX, the director further reveals, “I’m planning on splitting the makeup effects and prop recreations between two artists. One is Tate [ZOMBIE HONEYMOON] Steinsiek, an extremely talented special makeup artist who was educated by Tom Savini. He will bring a lot to the table. We’re going to recreate all of Robert A. Burns’ macabre props, and there will be several sequences [including the aforementioned “Chainsaw Fantasy”] that will call for a more modern approach. Jason Alvino and his Wicked FX crew are the second team. They’re a real grassroots bunch.”
As for the recreation of Gunnar Hansen’s iconic Leatherface mask, Garetano states, “Robert A. Burns was a true artist, and to recreate his work we must use the same materials as he did.”
In addition to the movie version, CHAINSAW fans will be pleased to know that a SOUTH TEXAS BLUES book is set to be written by Lamkin, and is intended to be “an intense chronicle of the making of this unique motion picture as well as a historical retrospective on the TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE phenomenon.” While Garetano is reluctant to reveal the publisher at this time, he does promise that it will be “a beautiful book that will not only illustrate the making of SOUTH TEXAS BLUES, but will be the definitive historical guide to TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE.” Stay tuned to Fango for further developments.