Rent Buffalo Bill’s House from “Silence of the Lambs” on Airbnb

In the late ’80s, when a film crew was exploring rural Pennsylvania towns to find the perfect location for the gruesome death of a serial killer, a long, simple hallway sealed the deal. It was the perfect setting to transform into a dark, dilapidated hallway for the ultimate game of cat and mouse between a psychopath who keeps people in a pit for their skins and a rookie FBI agent. “The crew could dream up the perfect chase scene in this central hallway that runs the length of the house, all the way down to the basement where the final scenes take place,” says Chris Rowan, who now owns this house. where Jodie Foster’s agent, Clarice Starling fatally shoots Ted Levine’s serial killer, Jame Gumb – also known as “Buffalo Bill” – in the Thesilenceofthelambs. During a visit to the property in late September, Rowan points out to visitors the scratches on the front door which are visible when Gumb first opens it to Agent Starling near the end of the film. It’s all about the details.

How did a prop maker and art director from the New York metro area come to own an old movie set in Perryopolis, a rural town in southwestern Pennsylvania? Rowan and his wife bought the house in 2020 for $290,000 when everyone was stuck at home looking for new side projects. He could have tried his hand at sourdough, but after seeing the 1910 home listed for sale on a horror fan website, Rowan says he became “obsessed” with creating a destination on the horror theme instead, up to collectibles that include hand-made lotion. “If you had told me that I would manufacture and distribute my own line of body lotions that I sell in a rural house in Pennsylvania, I would have said, ‘You are completely nuts,’ but here we are.” It refers to the lotion that Buffalo Bill sadly lowers into a well to his victims, in an attempt to soften their skin for his sewing machine.

Long captivated by the complex psychological thriller, Rowan says he had no idea it was filmed almost entirely in Pittsburgh until he discovered the property. Now he runs a guest house, visitsand help others The silence aficionados cosplay their dream scenes, about an hour from the city.

The crew of the 1991s Thesilenceofthelambs spent an entire year in Pittsburgh and surrounding rural areas. The whole area fueled their creativity, Karen O’Hara, the film’s props stylist, told Thrillist.

When director Jonathan Demme and production designer Kristi Zea explored the area in 1989, the vision for the unusual storyline came to life. “Kristi saw a man who kept pigeons in Glenwillard. We used this idea for Frederica Bimmel’s father. We found Edward Check Funeral Home on a long drive to Mckeesport looking for tools and tables we could rent for Gumb’s basement. The green-tiled room in this funeral home has become the examination room where officers first find a sphinx head in a victim’s throat. The house is now commemorating this moth with artwork as well as several real-life specimens – many of which were sent in by fans.

It’s not just for Buffalo Bill’s House that fans come to southwestern Pennsylvania. Every Halloween season, the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial at the University of Pittsburgh holds a Thesilenceofthelambs-theme an event. The large freestanding cage where they attempt to contain Dr. Hannibal Lecter has been replicated by the local horror society Hundred Acres Mansion and erected in the cavernous hall, which was also the location of his bloody escape scene. “People come every month of the year from all over the country with an interest in seeing where the movie was shot,” says Amber McBride, vice president and director of rentals and events at the venue. “Even at a wedding or a concert, there is often someone asking where the film was shot.”

This continued interest spawned the idea of ​​a dedicated event in the college lobby, which changes each fall as more horror fans join in the festivities. “This annual event is like a family reunion that gets a little bigger each year,” says McBride. Rowan participates, of course – along with many others who come to screen the film and pay their respects. A fan donated what is believed to be the original cage mat. Her mother bought the carpet used, and the store owner shared that the set designers rented it for the film. The film’s metal fabricator, a local man named Joe Steinmetz, provides the actual blueprints he used to make the film’s airframe.

Alongside dedicated cinematic experiences like Bill’s House or The Room, the city is teeming with memorabilia from The silence scenes. Some places in the city just have a story – and everyone knows it. When Heather LeVeck and her husband lived in the Apartments in Bradford Court, other residents let them know that the scene depicting the kidnapping of Catherine Martin by Buffalo Bill was filmed in their home, right next to the dumpsters. “Every time my husband took out the trash, I said, ‘Watch out for cannibals.'”

A few minutes away, visitors to the peaceful chimneys of the Carnegie Library in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh will recognize the setting where an entomologist first identifies the Death’s Head Hawkmoth for Agent Starling. This vivid cinematic history in the area is part of why Rowan knew Buffalo Bill’s House could become a tourist destination like no other.

Visitors who stop at Buffalo Bill’s for their stay might be surprised at how normal the setting is. The four bedroom house sits on a large plot bordered by train tracks and the Youghiogheny River. The wraparound porch is idyllic; peaceful. The home’s unassuming setting was part of its appeal, O’Hara says. Gumb ran his house of horrors in Smalltown, USA. It could have been anyone’s neighbor.

“Kristi and I walked just like Clarice would. We scared each other when we opened the bathroom door right past the furnace and water heaters,” O’Hara says. “You see a dead woman in the tub. Makeup artist Carl Fullerton created this amazing creature and the skins in Jamie’s studio. Everything in that basement was scavenged from stores and flea markets around Pittsburgh.”

O’Hara and his team worked tirelessly to amass the perfect props, but there wasn’t much left of the film when Rowan took over the house. It was a family home in the late 80s and 90s – the parents and their 6-year-old lived upstairs during filming – and it remained a residence until 2020. When purchasing home, Rowan began the exhaustive but exciting process. to bring his vision to life. More AirBnB than B&B, Rowan designed the house to be rented by one group at a time. He collected fan art, commissioned custom bedding and decorations, and fleshed out out (pun intended) a totally immersive experience.

The ground floor has not changed much. The sideboard where Bill searches for a business card before rushing to his basement lair is now filled with movie memorabilia, and guns are strewn everywhere for guests who want to act out the showdown between good and the evil. But above all, it is a comfortable and functional space.

The four upstairs bedrooms, which weren’t featured in the film, are packed with detail. A sign above the restrooms reminds customers to rub the lotion into their skin. The third floor has been transformed into Buffalo Bill’s game room, complete with vintage arcade games, a pool table, and vast shelves of horror movies – Rowan’s personal collection. “Many visitors actually choose to watch the film while they’re here,” he says. “For all the weird memories, the house seems oddly livable. It’s a classic turn-of-the-century Victorian with beautiful intricate woodwork and huge windows overlooking the river and mountains. The porch invites guests to curl up with a good book. The large dining room is made to be filled with laughter during shared meals.

Rowan’s piece de resistance, however, is the basement.

In the movie, it’s the setting for Bill’s studio. Upstairs is a rundown mess, but the basement is where he can be himself. When the guests stumble down the kitchen stairs, a motion sensor goes off as Rowan begins to set the scene. He’s good at it, it’s his job, after all.

Q Lazzarus’ “Goodbye Horses” plays, just like in the film, as guests are invited into the studio. Sewing machines, clothing shapes and patterns, and the preserved head of Bill’s first victim in a bucket are staged throughout the space as a disco ball spins. They are free to try on outfits, pose in front of the sewing machine, touch everything and explore everything.

Bill keeps his victims in a well in the basement. It’s a part of the set that has never been in this house – it was inspired by a well in the backyard of the property, but was created in a soundstage. From the moment Rowan acquired the house, he knew he would recreate the well in the basement. “Bill’s house wouldn’t be complete without her,” he says.

He enlisted the skills of a local but world-famous make-up artist and make-up artist, Tom Savini. He is running a school of special effects in a nearby town, and he and his students worked closely with Rowan to create a perfect (albeit shallower) replica of the well for photo ops. Even the bloody scratches on the walls created during desperate escape attempts are visible. “This is the type of project our school enjoys participating in, paying homage to a cinematic masterpiece like The silencesays Savini.

Interested in staying at or visiting Buffalo Bill’s House? Rowan says the house is for everyone. “We really get all walks of life. We had quite a few families who came. Despite the subject of the film, there is nothing in the house that is discolored for the eyes of the youngest. We’ve had romantic weekends away, hosted a few bachelor parties and had guests from as far away as Germany, Denmark and the UK. We even had a honeymoon. There’s one thing they haven’t planned yet: a wedding. “We’ve had some interest,” Rowan said. “It will happen.”

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