It Came From Texas Film Festival in Garland

It Came from Texas posters
It Came From Texas Film Festival

It Came From Texas Film Festival runs this weekend at the Plaza Theatre in Garland. The inaugural film fest runs Saturday, Oct. 28 and Sunday, Oct. 29 with a schedule jam packed with B-movies…the kind that ran in drive-in theatres in the 1950s and ‘60s. Sponsored by the City of Garland and Garland Cultural Arts, the event is a first for the city.

“With a nod to the old Dallas Producers Association fundraisers, It Came From Dallas from 2005-’17 that Gordon Smith and I worked on together, all of the elements were right there to make this a state-wide celebration of many of Texas’ best features through the years as well as some of the campy, quirky, at times cringe-worthy fun films of days gone by. We are grateful to the City of Garland and the Garland Cultural Arts team for cheering on this quirky effort so joyfully,” said Kelly Kitchens, film festival director.

It Came From Texas

“While future IT CAME FROM TEXAS Film Festivals will feature films in various genres and eras all made in Texas, this inaugural Festival pays homage to the horror/Sci-Fi films that went to the drive-in theaters in the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s,” she added.

THERE’S A B-MOVIE FILM HISTORIAN CATEGORY? Gordon K. Smith, the unofficial film historian specializing in B-movies made in Texas, brings his deep-dive knowledge to this effort.

“We have a carefully curated collection of horror and Sci-Fi B-movies made in Texas that have all become cult classics thanks to decades of drive-in, TV (including “Mystery Science Theater 3000”), home video and web showings. It’s a rare chance to celebrate some movies you may have grown up with on your TV at home and see them on a big screen with fellow fans and learn some fun facts about how they got made across Texas. This is the perfect way to spend your Halloween weekend!” Smith exclaimed.


Seeing the horror films of the 1950s and ‘60s, audiences will see the stark difference between those movies and the Spotlight film of the festival, TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE. Celebrating its 49th anniversary this year, CHAIN SAW gained a reputation as one of the most influential horror films for future genre films.

It came from Texas films
The Killer Shrews

John Bloom (AKA Joe Bob Briggs) wrote in Texas Monthly, Nov 2004: “TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE was the first real ‘slasher’ film, and it changed many things—the ratings code of the Motion Picture Association of America, the national debate on violence, the Texas Film Commission, the horror genre—but it remained a curiously isolated phenomenon. The film itself, involving five young people on a twisted drive through the country, is a strange, shifting experience—early audiences were horrified; later audiences laughed; newcomers to the movie were inevitably stricken with a vaguely uneasy feeling, as though the movie might have actually been made by a maniac….”


Filmmaker Joe O’Connell’s 2020 documentary focuses on one one of those “maniacs” who formed the look and feel of TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE, Robert A. Burns. RONDO & BOB, screening right before TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE, focuses on Art Director Bob Burns, the horror film legend who created the look of the seminal film. 
Burns was obsessed with the 1930s and ‘40s B-Movie actor Rondo Hatton (AKA The Creeper), an average man whose face was transformed into a distorted mask by acromegaly.

The film celebrates the true, deep fandom of Bob Burns for Rondo Hatton and in turn, reflects on TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE fans.


Sprinkled in with three of the film slots will be short films made by the students of the Garland High School Reel Owl Cinema film program. Reel Owl Cinema (ROC) will begin its 19th year a little differently. Having received an invitation to participate in the IT CAME FROM TEXAS Film Festival, the students’ first project will be to create horror, campy horror, or just campy films. The program has always had a horror component including the history of the horror genre and discussing and viewing horror films, but they have never specifically had a horror project.

“The kids are excited, and we are proud to be invited to participate in our first City of Garland film festival to premiere these films. Over the years, we have partnered with several film festivals both in North Texas and internationally, so we are so glad to showcase 45 minutes of our student’s films to a hometown crowd,” said Thomas Schubert, ROC Film Department Head.

“To have IT CAME FROM TEXAS Film Festival invite our program to participate is such an honor. It validates the program at the highest level of community support. Thanks to everyone from the city to the organizers working on the Festival for supporting us with this privilege,” Schubert concluded.


The final night of the festival won’t be a quiet one. That’s because the Festival will close things out with a live riff on one of Texas’ biggest and baddest Monster Movies with Texas’ only interactive movie mocking comedy troupe. The Mocky Horror Picture Show ( performs regularly at the Texas Theatre in Oak Cliff, and they’ll close out the IT CAME FROM TEXAS Film Festival with a live riff of Ray Kellogg’s 1959 cheesy horror classic THE GIANT GILA MONSTER in which (wait for it) a giant Gila monster (actually, it’s a Mexican beaded lizard) wreaks havoc on a small town. The titular monster shares the spotlight with B-movie staple, Don Sullivan; France’s 1957 Miss Universe contestant, Lisa Simone; and Dallas radio legend, Ken Knox.

It Came from Texas
The Giant Gila Monster

Mocky Horror stars comedians Liz Barksdale, Danny Gallagher and Albie Robles riffing on movies in the theater for a live audience, and the fun doesn’t stop there. Timed prompts appear on the screen with instructions for the audience to do or say things at just the right time. The comedians provide props for the audience to make fun of the movie with them!

It Came From Texas Sat. Oct. 28 Schedule

Double Feature ($10 individual tickets) at 11 a.m. ZONTAR: THING FROM VENUS (1967). Director: Larry Buchanan, filmed in Dallas. A misguided scientist enables an alien from Venus named Zontar to come to Earth to help solve man’s problems. However, Zontar has other ideas. Stars John Agar.

MANOS: HANDS OF FATE (1966) Director: Harold P. Warren; Filmed in El Paso and Ysleta. While on a desert excursion, a family encounters cultists who use human hands as sacrificial offerings to their god.

3 p.m.–RONDO & BOB (2020) ($10 individual tickets). Director: Joe O’Connell (in attendance). Filmed in Austin, Taylor, Los Angeles and Tampa, FL. Robert A. Burns, art director on the original TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE, was obsessed with actor Rondo Hatton (AKA The Creeper). Burns was average looking but brimming with odd creativity. Hatton, who suffered from acromegaly, had a strangely unique appearance but was a regular guy. In RONDO & BOB, their two stories intersect.
Post-screening Q&A with RONDO & BOB writer/director/producer, Joe O’Connell. This block includes student films from Garland High School’s ‘Reel Owl Cinema.’


($15 individual tickets) Rated: R; Director: Tobe Hooper. Filmed in Bastrop, Round Rock, Watterson and Leander. The 49th anniversary of this iconic horror film follows a group of friends who visit an old farmhouse where they are abducted and tortured by a family of cannibals. This block includes student films from Garland High School’s ‘Reel Owl Cinema.’

9:30 p.m.-Special Father and Son Double Feature ($10 individual tickets) DON’T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT (1974) Rated: R; Director: S.F. Brownrigg; Filmed in Tehuacana.
This independent horror film follows a nurse hired to work in Stephens’ Sanatorium, a psychiatric asylum where the patients torment her. DON’T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT infamous trailer is about half footage from THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT due to having the same distributor, released on a double bill with it):

DON’T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT 2 (2015) Rated: R; Director: Tony Brownrigg; Filmed in Tehuacana. Forty years after patients and doctors of the Stephens Sanitarium were murdered, the only survivor returns to discover that the ghosts of the past still haunt the building and its new inhabitants. DON’T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT 2 writer/director, Tony Brownrigg is the son of S.F. Brownrigg, director of original DON’T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT. These two films will be shown as a double feature for the first time. This film screens courtesy of RDM Pictures.

SUNDAY, OCT. 29 11:30 a.m.

Garland film festival
The Amazing Transparent Man

Double Feature ($10 individual tickets) BEYOND THE TIME BARRIER (1960) Director: Edgar G. Ulmer. Filmed in Carswell Air Force Base, Fort Worth; Eagle Mountain Marine Corps Air Station; and Fair Park, Dallas. An experimental pilot testing a rocket-powered craft finds himself in the future, among a society devastated by a plague.

THE AMAZING TRANSPARENT MAN (1960) Director: Edgar G. Ulmer Filmed in Fair Park, Dallas and Berkshire Mountains, Massachusetts. A notorious thief assists and eventually faces off with a former military officer who plans to conquer the world with an army of invisible soldiers.

3 p.m.–Double Feature ($10 individual tickets) ATTACK OF THE EYE CREATURES (1967) Director: Larry Buchanan; Filmed in Dallas. A flying saucer invades Earth and releases multi-eyed alien creatures that terrorize a teenage couple. THE KILLER SHREWS (1959 1h9m) Director: Ray Kellogg Filmed in Dallas and on Lake Dallas. When a ship lands on an isolated island, the crew discovers a mad scientist has been experimenting on shrews, which terrorize the researchers. Stars James Best, Ken Curtis, Ingrid Goude, and Gordon McLendon.

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Jo Ann Holt
Jo Ann Holt is an award-winning journalist with 40+ years of experience as a writer and editor. She loves live performances, from country music concerts to Broadway musicals to community theatre productions. Holt also enjoys art and cultural festivals, and good food and wine. She’s toured Amsterdam, London, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and various cities in Mexico but looks forward to visiting even more countries. She has traveled by boat, plane, and train, but especially likes taking long road trips across the U.S. with her husband, retired history professor Durhl Caussey. They enjoy meeting friendly people, learning about different cultures, and visiting historic sites wherever they go.