Butcher Boys marks the return of one of modern horror’s founding but silent fathers. Kim Henkel, the co-writer and co-producer of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre continued on to produce the sequels until all but stepping away after 1994’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation.
While teaching screenwriting at Rice University, he decided to collaborate with two former students, Duane Graves and Justin Meeks. That collaboration led to one of the strangest film in the annals of American cinematography…Butcher Boys.
Shock got a chance to speak with Kim Henkel about his return and what the film has to offer.
Shock Till You Drop: You’ve been away for a while. What brought you back to film?
Kim Henkel: It was quite simply, the opportunity arose, and I jumped on it.
Shock: Did you miss it?
Henkel: Yeah. I’m not really a 9-5 type person, and I never was a very good school teacher anyway.
Shock: Butcher Boys has a lot of subversive ideas going on. As far as you are concerned, what is the film trying to say?
Henkel: I think the film begs the question of what is permissible in society.
Shock: You brought back a lot of Chainsaw alums. How did that come about?
Henkel: Well there were a lot of small parts that I thought were right for a lot of people to come in and do them. I’ve kept in contact with many of them over the years and I gave them a shout and said “Hey. Come do a little bit”. It could have been “Chainsaw” people, coulda been from anywhere. The roles were there and I just felt like it would have been fun to incorporate as many of those people as we could.
Shock: It was a real treat to see Teri McMinn because I haven’t seen her at all since the original film.
Henkel: Yes. I originally wanted to do something a bit different. I wanted to get Teri and Marilyn in the same scene but I couldn’t work it out, time wise. But I was real glad to get Teri in there.
Shock: Were there any other hidden gems that I may have missed?
Henkel: Yeah. There are other little characters in there that probably no one will ever recognize, which are from chainsaw. The opening scene in the film, at the restaurant, there is a character that is introduced briefly as The Senator. That guy was driving the pick up at the end of the original Chainsaw.
Shock: The truck that Marilyn jumps into?
Henkel: Yeah. I was just having fun with those guys. Another great one is Ed Guinn. In the scene that Teri McMinn is in, there’s a guy that comes around the corner and sees all the mayhem going on and retreats. That guy was Ed Guinn, who was driving the Black Maria cattle truck at the end of the original chainsaw.
Shock: The characters are pretty depraved and the town seems other-worldly. Was that by design or evolution?
Henkel: I would say that’s by design. It’s supposed to be our world, but a dystopian version of our world. Most of us live in brightly lit places and don’t worry to terrible about our safety, but there’s an underside to our world were people do have those concerns and then there are other places on the planet that make the Bone Boys look like Kindergarteners.
Shock: It reminded me of Future Kill where it starts off in a normal world then, when the characters turn the corner, it changes shape into something else.
Henkel: Yes, the dark side. There are very deliberate signals that crossed it into that territory, the railroad, the freeways, getting on the wrong side of the track so to speak.
Shock: There are a lot of layers in the film. Is this a world that you want to revisit?
Henkel: You know. I’m never satisfied. Nothing I’ve ever done has done nothing but cause me nightmares at night when I look back at it. So I always want to do it better.
Shock: You wrote it and produced it. So creatively, did you oversee everything or did you let Justin Meeks and Duane Graves have free reign with it?
Henkel: Well that was a tough one. I had to forcibly remove myself away and let them take over. Drag myself through tether hoops to the sidelines.
Shock: Are you happy with the results?
Henkel: Like I said, I’m never satisfied. However, that’s the nature of the personality, not a reflection on the work of Justin and Duane for sure.