After TCM - The REAL Horrorshow

 

There's no question that the cast and crew of TCM were put through quite an ordeal to make this picture back in 1973.  The results of their hard work and efforts have to most of them been positive.  Some have chosen to continue their careers in the entertainment industry with their share of successes while others have not.  It is also obvious that no one associated with the project had the slightest idea of what the movie would mean to the horror genre and the fame that would follow.

For everyone associated with the project, there was only one reality.  The director and most of the cast were unknown in the film industry and some of the investors were Texas' "good ol' boys" who had never entered into the entertainment business.  And because almost everyone involved was new, they didn't specifically know what a good or bad deal was.  As a result, a contract for distribution with Bryanston was signed on August 28, 1974.  Officials in 4 states claim that Bryanston was allegedly tied to a Mafia family.  Most of the people that I have spoken to that were directly involved with the film pinpoint the root of all problems they have experienced after the release of TCM to this event.  Once the distribution rights were signed over to Bryanston, Bryanston left a trail of unpaid debts and lawsuits for which the cast and crew would have to clear for themselves of for the next several years.  The paper trail associated to this film's release is a trail that would require an entire team of completely dedicated attorneys and accountants to unravel.  Therefore, we arrive at a position today where the cast and crew are owed perhaps millions of dollars by Bryanston.  But unrecoverable because the debacle of TCM is so confusing and complex.  It is rumored that Louis Peraino of Bryanston is still earning money off of TCM in one form or another.

Because the history of this film's release until today is so complicated, I have spent several hours compiling information from a magazine called Cinefantastique. It contained a very detailed article on this subject.   I compiled the facts and figures to the best of my ability to simplify exactly what went on.  I know that I'm probably missing other events from this summary and have perhaps misquoted others.  So I hope that anyone with better knowledge than myself on this subject matter can shed some light and correct the information I have posted.   Please mail me to let me know, or just to give some feedback to this or anything else about my site or TCM.

Thank you all.

Sincerely,

Tim Harden


The following is a chronological list of events covering the history of the film, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, from it's creation up to today.  Please refer to the bottom of this page for background on the people and organizations mentioned in my summary.

 

1971
The then Democratic Governor of Texas, Governor Smith, creates the Texas Film Commission.

 

Sometime between 1971 and the summer of 1973
Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkle for a corporation called Vortex, Inc. with Kim as president and Tobe as vice president.  They approach Bill Parsley for funding for "this simple little ol' horror movie".  Bill forms a company called MAB Inc. and puts up $60,000.  In return, MAB will own of TCM and the profits.
On a side note, Marilyn Burns maintained that MAB stood for Marilyn Ann Burns because Parsley was trying to enter Marilyn into the film business.  Parsley denies this only to say that he doesn't recall what the acronym stood for, but it had nothing to do with her or her name.

Ron Bozman talks most of the cast and crew to differ parts of their salaries until after the movie was sold.  Vortex makes the idea more attractive by awarding nearly everyone with a share of Vortex's potential profits ranging from .25% to 6% (called 'points').  But because of a miscommunication between Vortex and the others, they are not told that Vortex only owns 50% of the film, which makes everyone's 'points' cut in .

 

July 15, 1973
Primary filming begins on TCM in Austin, Round Rock and Gonzales, Texas for 32 days.

 

Midway through the editing process
Kim and Tobe run out of money for the project.  P.I.T.S. comes through for them with $23,532 in exchange for 19% of Vortex's (50% share) profits.   This leaves Kim and Tobe with 45% of Vortex between them and the remaining 36% divided up between 20 cast and crew members.

Warren Skaaren makes a deal as an equal partner with Tobe and Kim, along with a 15% share of Vortex.  Skaaren is paid a deferred salary of $5,000 and a "monitoring fee" of 3% of the gross profits (MAB and Vortex combined) off the top.

 

April, 1974
Skaaren resigned from the Texas Film Commission to become the movie's "producers' representative".  To arrange for maximum appropriate exposure of the movie to distributors and to negotiate the distribution agreement.

 

Date unknown
David Foster arranges a private screening for some of Bryanston's West Coast executives and receives 1.5% of Vortex's profits and a deferred fee of $500.

 

August 28, 1974
Ron Bozman & Warren Skaaren is offered a contract of $225,000 and 35% of the profits from the worldwide distribution of TCM by Louis (Butchi) Periano of Bryanston Distributors.
Years later, Bozman is quoted in saying, "We made a deal with the devil, [sigh], and I guess that, in a way, we got what we deserved."

 

Date Unknown
The contract with Bryanston, Inc. is signed and the first check arrives.  After the investors had recouped their money off the top including interest, after Skaaren's salary and monitoring fee and after the lawyers and accountants had been paid, only $8,100 remained to be split up among the 20 filmmakers.

 

October, 1974
A festive Dallas press conference is held and TCM is opened to 200 theaters around Texas.

 

Date Unknown
Tobe and Kim are given a one-year contract by Universal Pictures to develop movie ideas for the studio.

 

1975
TCM is accepted by the Museum of Modern Art as a part of a "study" collection.
Bryanston's financial reports show the filmmakers 35% share of TCM profits amounted to $5,734.
Group meetings are being held with frustrated members of the cast, crew and investors.  The investors said that Bryanston was not sending payments.  A rumor is started that Bruce Lee was not killed by cannabis poisoning as it was officially known.   But by other unnatural means.  "Return of the Drahon" was released by Bryanston.

 

Fall of 1975
Some of the cast and crew hire the accounting firm of Solomon & Finger to audit Bryanston's books.  Finger spent 6 months trying to complete the audit and gave up.  He reported back to their clients saying that Bryanston was "unable to provide a picture-by-picture breakdown of film rentals billed."

 

December, 1975
Ira Teller would later say in 1982 that Bryanston had up until now earned $6 million in rental from TCM.  This roughly translates into between $12 and $20 million in box office sales.

 

1976
TCM opens in London, England and is listed as No. 3 of the top 10 grossing films by the trade paper 'Boxoffice'.
Periano assigned the rights to TCM to Joseph Brenner Associates.  Brenner did not pay for the rights, but instead they paid off a Bryanston debt of $10,000 owed to the National Film Service.
Some of the cast and crew decide to sue Bryanston, but their New York attorneys advised against it because of rumors of Mafia ties.  Other people also hear rumors of this from other people in Hollywood.  Even the most experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney may have advised against the lawsuit too.  But Bill Parsley later convinces them to sue.   So they hire Robert Huhn on the basis that he was to receive a differed fee of $5,000 plus 25% of all money and property recovered.
Bryanston is sued by the cast and crew for breach of contract.  But nothing was left to recover because the company became broke with creditors - headed by the IRS - pursuing the company.  Later, Bryanston mysteriously disappears from the movie business. 

Periano was later convicted in Memphis on federal obscenity charges for his role in producing "Deep Throat".

Swadevale, an English distributor and subsidiary of Bryanston, received 20% of TCM rentals in the UK and other foreign territories.  Eventually in 1977, Kuhn let Swadevale continue with their UK distribution of TCM in exchange for $14,500 in profits owed to that point.

 

February, 1977
The cast and crew settles out of court with Bryanston, and Bryanston agrees to pay $400,000 for their share of the profits to that point, and to relinquish control of the movie. They also agree to release Louis Peraino from any personal liability in exchange for his personal check for $5,000. It was also specifically stated that the filmmakers were not bound to any unknown TCM contracts, nor were they liable for any debts that Bryanston may have incurred. But the compensation was never seen. Louis Peraino had sold TCM right to various distributors - in some cases without the cast and crew's knowledge. Which is a blatant violation of the original distribution contract. These sub-distributors, exhibitors and film labs around the world were claiming that Bryanston owed them money. The cast and crew were held responsible for the debts before they would give back their materials. Even though they were not legally responsible for the debt. Eventually, $33,000 was taken from the filmmakers for some debts allegedly owed by Bryanston to screen service companies and theatre chains. The copyright to TCM had also been transferred over to Bob Kuhn's name.

Precision Film Labs sued JAD for unpaid prints of TCM (Bryanston had already charged $200,000 worth of prints) and JAD sued Precision Labs and Robert Kuhn. Kuhn filed a counter suit against JAD. JAD in the meantime did not pay the TCM cast and crew their profits from worldwide distribution for almost 2 years. When all was settled between the 3 parties, of the $11,161 in profits that JAD had placed in a New York court registry, Precision received $10,000. Kuhn and Precision agreed to pay $800 each to cover JAD’s legal costs. That means that the cast and crew ultimately collected $361 in profits from foreign distribution by JAD of TCM.

 

1978
Most of the filmmakers were able to put behind themselves their experience with chainsaw to move on and disperse to establish their careers. While others dropped out of the movie business. The investors had renamed their profits corporation "Trail of Tears".

Bob Kuhn was hired back to handle the Bryanston settlement. He received $5,000 and 25% of "all money and property recovered." Bill Parsley and Bob Kuhn were also negotiating a new US distribution with New Line Cinema. Vortex (Henkel and Hooper) go to court fighting Bill Parsley and Bob Kuhn (and New Line Cinema) in hopes of recovering the copyright to TCM. Vortex wins.

 

1981
By now, TCM has earned more than $6 million at American box offices, according to the current distribution company, New Line Cinema. But after attorneys and investors had been paid, the profits received by the filmmakers from the worldwide distribution amounted to about $45,000.

 

1982
Wizard Video acquired the rights to TCM for $200,000, then the highest price ever paid for an independent film, according to Wizard president Charles Band.

By this time, it is estimated that TCM has been distributed to over 85 countries. But the funds generated by the foreign market for the filmmaker’s profits totaled about $20,000 (not including Canada or the United States). But overall during this year, the filmmakers were paid nearly $1 million dollars (about 5 times what they earned the past 6 years) by their new distributor, New Line Cinema.

Ira Teller is quoted in saying that he recalled the company [Bryanston] had earned $6 million in rentals from TCM by December, 1975. This roughly translates into between $12 and $20 million in box office sales at that time.

Iver Films had remitted $73,000 in profits to the cast and crew of TCM since acquiring the rights to TCM in 1977. JAD also started sending profit check for the first time.

 

October, 1998
TCM is released on DVD by Pioneer as a collectors edition. Which includes commentaries by Tobe Hooper, Gunnar Hansen and Daniel Pearl. As well as unseen footage, bloopers, film trailers and stills.


Names of people and organizations mentioned from above.

Charles Band – Then president of Wizard Video

Michael Baron – Attorney who succeeded Longley as chief of the antitrust and consumer-protection division of the Texas attorney general’s office. Also a partner in the investment company, PITS.

Fred Biersdorf – Dallas based distributor who handled Bryanston’s films in the Southwest.

Stanley Bogest – Then controller and vice-president of Bryanston.

Ron Bozman – Austin filmmaker, later became the production manager. He convinces most of the cast and crew of TCM to defer parts of their salaries until after the movie was sold.

Steve Brenner – Vice President of Joseph Brenner Associates, a small distribution company in New York.

Marilyn Burns – 21 year old student of UT was appointed to the TFC and later appeared on the movie as Sally Hardesty.

Larry Carroll – Graduate instructor at the UT film school.

Sidney Finger – President of Solomon & Finger accounting firm – the firm hired by some of the cast and crew to audit Bryanston’s books.

David Foster – Hollywood press agent turned producer for such films as "The Getaway" and friend to Warren Skaaren.

Richard Haney – Salesman for a cork manufacturer. Also a partner in the investment company, PITS.

Katherine Henkel – Sister of Kim Henkel, invested $1,000 in TCM through MAB.

Kim Henkel – Associate producer and co-author of TCM’s script and story, also worked as an illustrator by day.

Arthur Herskovitz – President of JAD, a foreign sales company.

Tobe Hooper – Then 30, filmmaker responsible for 2 PBS funded documentary films and wrote and directed an arthouse piece called Eggshells (An American Freak Illumination), also starring Allen Danziger.

Iver Films – England distributor.

Robert Kuhn – Former judge, Austin attorney who invested $9,000 in TCM through MAB. He later severed as a lawyer on the cast and crew’s behalf to sue Bryanston.

Richard Logan – City National Bank vice president, and partner in the investment company PITS.

Joe Longley – Then chief of the antitrust and consumer-protection division of the Texas attorney general’s office, originally invested $2,000 in TCM. He later helped to form an investors group, PITS to help Tobe and Kim financially during the editing of TCM.

M.A.B. – Formed by Bill Parsley as president, MAB invested $60,000 ($40,000 his own money) for 50% of TCM and 50% of the profits thereof. Junior partners were Robert Kuhn ($9,000), Katherine Henkle ($1,000) and Richard Saenz ($10,000).

Bill Parsley – Old friend of Governor Smith, was appointed to the TFC and later became executive producer of TCM. Also director of public affairs at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.

Dottie Pearl – UT Anthropology student, then wife of Daniel Pearl and partnered with Larry Carroll in a small production company specializing in local TV commercials.

Tom Pearl – Attorney for Richard Saenz and brother to Daniel Pearl.

Louis (Butchie) Peraino - 34, was the president of Bryanston Distributors, a legitimate movie company he founded with the profits from "Deep Throat".

Joseph Peraino - Brother of Louis, and president of Bryanston Distributors.

PITS - (Pie In The Sky) investment company formed by Loe Longley which included himself, Richard Logan, Tommy Townsend, Michael Barron, Richard Haney and Bill Witliff to help Tobe and Kim financially during the editing of TCM. The company put up $23,532 in exchange for 19% of Vortex’s (50% share) profits.

Richard Saenz – Invested $10,000 in TCM through MAB. Credited on screen as the "associate producer" of TCM. Allegedly a marijuana smuggler. In 1982 he became a fugitive from justice on a Texas drug charge, according to Tom Pearl.

Warren Skaaren – Then 25, once an aide to the governor of TX as his community development coordinator, now executive director of the Texas Film Commission. Skaaren is also credited with the movie title name, TCM. Also introduces David Foster into the picture.

Governor Smith – Governor of Texas in 1971, created the Texas Film Commission "to develop a dynamic film production industry in Texas and thereby add millions of ‘pollution-free and exciting dollars’ to the state’s economy’.

Solomon & Finger – Accounting firm hired by some of the cast and crew to audit Bryanston’s books.

Swadevale – A subsidiary of Bryanston, an English distributor.

Ira Teller – Formerly Bryanston’s vice president of advertising and publicity.

Tommy Townsend – Former state legislator and executive director of the Texas Association of Realtors. Also partner in the investment company, PITS.

Trail of Tears – A renamed profits corporation owned by the original investors.

Bill Witliff – Local Austin writer who since has become a successful Hollywood screenwriter and producer in such films as Raggedy Man and Barbarosa. Also a partner in the investment.

 

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