City of Garland Is Launching Its First Annual ‘It Came From Texas’ Film Festival

Fasten your seat belts. The city of Garland and Garland Cultural Arts are gearing up for a pre-Halloween weekend of "campy, quirky, at times cringe-worthy fun" at the inaugural It Came From Texas Film Festival.

“Oppenheimer” may have critical acclaim. But some of America’s favorite movies are filled with campy, schlock-y, over-the-top fun—and a lot them were filmed in Texas. Now the city of Garland and Garland Cultural Arts are gearing up to celebrate them with the first annual It Came From Texas Film Festival.

The festival will be presented October 28 and 29 at the Plaza Theater on State Street in Garland.

Offering double features, campy classics, and Texas-sized horror, 11 Texas-produced movies will be brought back to the big screen. Some titles you may know, like “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” Others, like the 1967 flick “Zontar: Thing from Venus,” may be just a tad off the beaten track.

The film festival’s director, Kelly Kitchens, knows the territory. From 2005 to 2017, she worked with Gordon K. Smith on “It Came From Dallas” fundraisers for the Dallas Producers Association.

‘All of the elements were right there’

“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,” Kitchens said in a statement. ““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.”

Smith, an “unofficial” film historian specializing in B-movies made in Texas, calls the festival “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.”

“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,” Smith said in a statement. “This is the perfect way to spend your Halloween weekend!”

From scary basements to transparent men to giant terrifying lizards

You’d be scared too if you were starring in 1959’s “The Killer Shrews,” one of the movies featured in the First Annual It Came From Texas Film Festival. [Image provided by Garland Cultural Arts]

The festival won’t just screen 1974’s “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” at 7 p.m. on the opening night. It’ll tease it with a 3 p.m. showing of “Rondo and Bob,” a 2020 documentary featuring the movie’s art director and “Creeper”-playing actor, followed by a Q&A with the doc’s writer-director-producer, Joe O’Connell.

The festival will also offer a special “father and son” double feature on October 28 pairing 1974’s “Don’t Look in the Basement,” directed by S.F. Brownrigg, with the 2015 “Don’t Look in the Basement 2,” directed by Brownrigg’s son Tony.

If you’re an Edgar G. Ulmer fan, you’re in luck. Two of the director’s movies, “Beyond the Time Barrier” (1960) and “The Amazing Transparent Man” (also 1960—he cranked these out fast), will be shown in a daytime double-feature on Sunday, October 29.

Oh, and how did we never catch “Attack of the Eye Creatures,” a 1967 not-quite-classic by director Larry Buchanan? Filmed in Dallas, the movie is about a flying saucer that invades Earth, pouring out multi-eyed aliens that terrorize—who else?—a teenage couple. That will be screened too, for which we can all be grateful.

Garland High School students contributing their own campy shorts

Sprinkled in with three of the film slots in the two-day program will be short films made by the students of the Garland High School Reel Owl Cinema film program. The students’ first project in this, the program’s 19th year, will be to create horror, campy horror, or just plain campy short films.

According to Kitchens, the ROC program has always had a horror component, with students learning the history of the horror genre and screening and discussing horror films. But this is the first year students have all worked on their own horror project. 

Festival to end with a ‘Mocky Horror Picture Show live comedy riffing’

Still from the 1959 film “The Giant Gila Monster.” [Provided by Garland Cultural Arts]

The festival will cap off Sunday night October 29 with a “Mocky Horror Picture Show live riffing” of Ray Kellogg’s 1959 movie “The Giant Gila Monster”—filmed in Dallas and on the teeming, scary surface of Lake Dallas. 

Garland Cultural Arts says the comedy show will featuring “live mocking” by Danny Gallagher and his fellow mockers Liz Barksdale and Albie Robles. They’ll be riffing on what seems like a pretty easy target: the story of a mechanic and street racer working to stop a giant lizard from destroying their town. 

That final screening event will also feature student films from Garland High School’s  film department, along with a costume contest.

So get your lizard costume ready and mark your calendar.

For more on the It Came From Texas Film Festival—including the full schedule and ticket info—you can go here.

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