Harlow Texas – Ghost Town (Texas Chainsaw Massacre)

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You’ve probably watched the gory yet captivating 2022 version of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It revolves around a group of young influencers who decide to visit Harlow, Texas, to restore it to modern civilization. Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned!

After seeing the slasher movie, you might wonder about Harlow, Texas. Does it even exist, or is it a fictional place?

In short, Harlow, Texas, used to be a small community back in the 1800s. It was named after the Harlow family, who resided in Hunt County. However, Harlow doesn’t show on any maps nowadays, so it’s considered a ghost town after all!

The House in Texas Chainsaw Massacre. - Texas View
The House in “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” – Photo by G Yancy

Where Was Harlow, Texas Located?

According to the Texas State Historical Association, Harlow was located right in the middle of Hunt County, which still exists today.

A more precise description of its location states that the ghost town lies west of State Highway 34 and four miles south of Greenville.

Up until around the 1930s, the town appeared on the county’s roadmap, but it only contained farms and a small business establishment. There were no records of its population, and soon enough, the town ceased to exist on highway maps.

Historical Significance of Harlow

Although not widely known, Harlow, Texas holds its unique place in the tapestry of Texas history, especially in Hunt County. Its historical significance can be understood through several key aspects:

  1. Early Settlement and Development:
    • Harlow was one of the early settlements in Hunt County, known for its rich agricultural land. The settlement of such towns was crucial in establishing communities in the largely rural and frontier areas of Texas in the 19th century.
  2. Agricultural Significance:
    • Like many small towns in Hunt County, Harlow likely played a role in the agricultural development of the region. Hunt County was known for its cotton production, and towns like Harlow were integral to this agricultural economy, providing a base for farmers and laborers.
  3. Railroads and Transportation:
    • The expansion of railroads in Texas during the late 19th and early 20th centuries was a pivotal factor in the growth of small towns. If Harlow had a railroad connection, it would have significantly influenced its development, as railroads brought economic opportunities, increased trade, and improved access to goods and services.
  4. Cultural and Social Dynamics:
    • Small towns in Texas during this period were melting pots of various cultures, including settlers from different parts of the United States and immigrants. This cultural blend impacted the social fabric and community life in Harlow, contributing to the diverse heritage of Hunt County.
  5. Transition and Change in the 20th Century:
    • The 20th century brought significant changes to rural towns in Texas, with many experiencing population declines due to urbanization and industrialization. The history of Harlow might reflect these broader trends, highlighting the challenges faced by small rural communities.
  6. Preservation of Local History:
    • Preserving the history of towns like Harlow is crucial for understanding the broader narrative of Texas’s development. Local historical societies, such as the Hunt County Historical Commission, often have archives and resources that shed light on the history of small, lesser-known towns.
  7. Contemporary Relevance:
    • Understanding the history of places like Harlow offers insights into contemporary issues facing rural Texas, such as economic development, preservation of historical heritage, and community identity.
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Garaged Bronco

Real Harlow and Its Movie Counterpart

Unfortunately, few historical resources tell us how Harlow, Texas, used to be. We know it mainly housed a few farms and a business establishment, but we do no know its population.

In the movie, the ghost town is entirely deserted. Its only occupants are dilapidated buildings and a deranged serial killer! Yet, there was a reference to its former population, which used to be 1,300.

By the 1980s, the real Harlow was pretty much free of people, too, disappearing from roadmaps. Therefore, we can safely say that the only similarity between both places is that they were both small towns once but didn’t have a population anymore.

Where Was the 2022 Texas Chainsaw Massacre Filmed?

If you liked the movie and its setting that looked as if it existed in real life, you might wonder if it was filmed in the location where Harlow once stood. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.

The movie wasn’t shot in Texas at all or even in the United States! The 2022 Texas Chainsaw Massacre was filmed in Bulgaria; the set isn’t related to any existing location in Texas whatsoever.

However, the original ’70s movie was filmed in several places in Texas, especially around Austin. So, that’s always good to know!

Is the Video Footage at the End of the Movie Real?

At the beginning and end of the 2022 movie, bad-quality footage is shown of two police officers going through a crime scene. Soon enough, they’re met with Leatherface; the rest is history. But is that real?

No. The footage was filmed and edited to look like it’s been recorded using a home video camera. While it sure looks real, you can rest assured that it was purposefully created to appear that way and make the movie more interesting.

Facts Chainsaw Massacre

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is an iconic horror film that has significantly impacted the genre and popular culture. Here are some key facts about this seminal movie:

  1. Release and Reception: The original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” was released in 1974. Directed by Tobe Hooper, it quickly gained notoriety for its intense horror and was both criticized and celebrated for its graphic content.
  2. Low Budget Production: The film was made on a modest budget, estimated at around $300,000. Despite its low budget, it became a significant commercial success, grossing over $30 million at the domestic box office.
  3. Inspirational Sources: Tobe Hooper was partly inspired by the real-life crimes of serial killer Ed Gein, who also influenced other horror films like “Psycho” and “The Silence of the Lambs”. However, the story of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” itself is fictional.
  4. Cinematic Style: The film is noted for its raw, gritty style, which gives it a quasi-documentary feel. This was partly due to the budget constraints but also a deliberate choice by Hooper to add a sense of realism.
  5. Cultural Impact: The film has significantly impacted the horror genre and is cited as one of the earliest and best examples of the “slasher film” genre. Its influence can be seen in numerous subsequent horror films.
  6. The Iconic Villain – Leatherface: The character of Leatherface, the chainsaw-wielding antagonist, became an iconic figure in horror. His mask, made of human skin, and his use of a chainsaw were particularly shocking and memorable elements.
  7. Franchise and Remakes: The original film’s success led to a franchise that includes sequels, remakes, and reboots. The most recent addition to the series was released in 2021.
  8. Controversy and Censorship: The film was banned in several countries due to its graphic violence and was subject to censorship in others. It remains one of the most controversial films in the horror genre.
  9. Legacy: “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is widely regarded as one of the greatest horror films of all time and has been preserved in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
  10. Misconceptions: Despite its title, the movie does not involve a massacre nor is it based on a true story, though these are common misconceptions. The film’s marketing played on these ideas, claiming it was based on true events to attract a larger audience.
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“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” remains a landmark in horror cinema, known for its chilling narrative, innovative filmmaking, and lasting impact on the genre.

Junction House Restaurant Kingsland Texas. - Texas View
Junction House Restaurant, Kingsland, Texas – Photo by Billy Hathorn

Cultural Impact

The “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” franchise, with its origins in the 1974 film directed by Tobe Hooper, has had a profound and enduring impact on both horror cinema and the cultural portrayal of Texas. Its influence and legacy can be dissected through several key aspects:

  1. Redefining Horror Genre:
    • The original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is often credited with redefining the horror genre. Its raw, visceral approach and unsettling realism departed from the more polished, studio-produced horror films of earlier decades. The film’s suspense, gore, and a relentless sense of dread influenced countless horror movies that followed.
  2. Introduction of the Slasher Subgenre:
    • Although not the first slasher film, “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” was pivotal in popularizing the subgenre. The elements of a remorseless killer, a group of unsuspecting victims, and the graphic nature of the violence set a template for slasher films throughout the 1980s and beyond.
  3. Portrayal of Texas and Rural America:
    • The film, set in the rural Texas backwoods, contributed to a certain cultural portrayal of Texas and rural America. It played into existing stereotypes of backcountry areas being backward or dangerous. While not an accurate representation of Texas, it nonetheless influenced the way Texas was perceived in popular culture.
  4. Cultural Iconography:
    • The character of Leatherface, the chainsaw-wielding antagonist, became an icon in horror culture. The imagery associated with the character, such as the mask made of human skin and the chainsaw as a weapon, became deeply ingrained in popular culture, symbolizing ultimate horror and terror.
  5. Impact on Filmmaking and Aesthetics:
    • The low-budget nature of the original film demonstrated that effective horror could be created with limited resources, encouraging independent filmmakers. The gritty, documentary-like aesthetic of the film has been emulated by many horror films since, aiming to create a similar sense of realism and immediacy.
  6. Franchise and Remakes:
    • The original film’s success spawned a franchise, including sequels, remakes, and prequels. Each new entry attempted to capture the spirit of the original while also reflecting changing tastes and sensibilities in horror cinema. The remakes, in particular, brought the story to new audiences and recontextualized it for contemporary viewers.
  7. Social and Psychological Themes:
    • The film has been subject to various interpretations, from reflections on consumer society to commentary on the breakdown of the American family. Its ability to evoke deeper social and psychological themes is a testament to its layered complexity despite its surface-level horror.
  8. Global Influence:
    • The influence of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” extends beyond American cinema, impacting the global horror genre. Filmmakers worldwide have drawn inspiration from its style and approach to storytelling.
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The cultural impact of the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” franchise is multifaceted, influencing not only the horror genre but also contributing to the global cultural lexicon. While fictional and exaggerated, its portrayal of Texas has become a part of the state’s vast and varied representation in popular culture.

green tree on green grass field during sunset

Facts About Hunt County

If you want to take a deeper look at the place Harlow, Texas, used to be part of, here are some facts to keep in mind about Hunt County.

  • County seat: Greenville
  • Population: 98,559 (in 2019)
  • Total area: 882 square miles
  • FIPS State / County Code: 48 / 231
  • Number of housing units: 36,704
  • Telephone area codes: (430) and (903)
  • Time zone: Central Time Zone (CST/CDT)

What Are the Places That Border Hunt County?

Hunt County is bordered by a few counties that may or may not have inspired the setting of Harlow, Texas, in the movie. These are:

  • Hopkins
  • Delta
  • Fanning
  • Kaufman
  • Collin
  • Rains
  • Rockwall

Are There Other Ghost Towns in Texas?

Yes. Texas has its fair share of ghost towns that look a lot like the movie Harlow. Some are downright creepy, while others speak of a long-forgotten history.

The table below includes three deserted towns in the state and some interesting facts about each.

Town NameLocationQuick Facts
Belle PlainCallahan CountyEstablished in 1876Only four families were left in it by 1987Known for Belle Plain College, a one-of-a-kind institution back in the day.
TerlinguaNot far from Big Bend National ParkFamous for the three languages that were once spoken there (Spanish, Indian, and English) Texas’s most popular ghost town.
CatarinaBetween Laredo and UvaldePeople left it after its wells dried up following the Great DepressionNow, it’s left with a few dilapidated buildings, a barely-standing hotel, and the outer shell of a restaurant.
Ghost Towns in Texas

Captain George W. Robson, a newspaper editor from New York, had much to say about Belle Plain, back when it still had its full glory. His exact words were:

“We do not know of a more pleasant or beautiful place or one with brighter prospects for a prosperous future than Belle Plain.” Little did he know!

Other places that were unfortunate enough to end up as ghost towns for one reason or another include:

  • Lobo
  • The Grove
  • Bartlett
  • Bluffton
  • Barstow
  • Independence
  • Shafter
  • Glenrio
ABANDONED GHOST TOWN - Bartlett Texas

References:

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Christian Linden Texas View Headshot 3 - Texas View
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Christian Linden is a seasoned writer and contributor at Texas View, specializing in topics that resonate with the Texan community. With over a decade of experience in journalism, Christian brings a wealth of knowledge in local politics, culture, and lifestyle. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Texas. When he's not writing, Christian enjoys spending weekends traveling across Texas with his family, exploring everything from bustling cities to serene landscapes.

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