BASTROP, Texas (KXAN) — Off State Highway 304 in Bastrop lies a small, one-story structure, with a teal front door and faded Coca-Cola sign out front. Beneath the Coca-Cola sign reads “WE SLAUGHTER BARBECUE” — a little tongue-in-cheek nod to horror film enthusiasts.
The Gas Station has existed since the 60s, but its claim to fame comes courtesy the 1974 horror film classic, “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”
Roy Rose, co-owner of The Gas Station, was born the same year as the film’s release, and has loved it since he was 10 years old.
“It was just always a dream to own the gas station from the original movie,” Roy said.
Roy and Lisa Rose have lived that dream for nine years. In the near decade since, the Roses have leaned into the cult classic’s appeal, attracting horror film buffs with on-site rental cabins, replicas of the film’s truck and vans and a full merchandise store. And, of course, there’s the barbecue pit.
During the week, The Gas Station’s main pull is its barbecue restaurant, attracting regulars and passersby heading through Central Texas. But on the weekends? Those are reserved for the horror fans.
“I just like to see their faces, and I just want them to truly enjoy it as much as we enjoy it everyday. Because it’s the best,” Lisa said. “We get to meet so many different people. It’s just exciting.”
One of Roy’s favorites elements of the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is its enduring legacy. Sequels are still being made, which has led to generations of fans in the nearly 50 years since the original’s release.
And horror tourism is a growing trend among legions of fans, the Roses said. The Gas Station books out its cabins months in advance of Halloween — The Gas Station is typically closed Monday, but is making an exception for this year’s spooky holiday — and hosts actors from horror and classic films for meet-and-greets and signings.
Each March, The Gas Station hosts the Cult Classic Convention, a three-day adventure held at the Bastrop Convention & Exhibit Center that includes on-site vendors, live music and celebrity guests. Next year’s convention will run March 3-5 and feature a reunion of castmates from “The Warriors” and “Re-Animator,” along with a stunt man who was Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers.
It’s an industry Bastrop has firmly planted its hold on, Roy said.
“I consider Bastrop the home of horror because ‘Texas Chainsaw 1’ was filmed here; ‘Texas Chainsaw 2’ was filmed here; ‘Friday the 13th 2009’ was filmed in Bastrop,” he said. “So we got three classic, iconic horror movies that were filmed in Bastrop.”
As the smell of barbecue wafts through the merchandise store, the front door squeaks — a creaky, old-school horror sound that’s Lisa’s personal favorite — as customers enter. Some are here for smoked meats, while others soak in the vast displays of merchandise lining the walls.
It’s an appeal that one of The Gas Station’s employees, Chris, sums up best, Roy said.
“‘Just another day in paradise,'” Roy recounted, smiling.