Caroline Williams is the one who survives.
Her face might look familiar – she played Vanita ‘Stretch’ Brock in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, and she’s made a career out making it to the end of scary movies, but the conversation with this horror film icon leaves the distinct impression that she could make it through pretty much anything, and with a smile, no less.
It’s an interesting dichotomy. She’s a horror movie girl through a through, a darling of people whose devotion, as Caroline herself tells me, “is notable,” and a very visible one at that, always present in conventions and fan gatherings.
The mystique is amplified by the fact that Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is one of those few movies that has stood the test of time. And no remake means, Caroline William’s face is still the one we remember.
Of course, her status as a “final girl” also helps. As she herself explains it, “the fact that I lived to the very end of a great number of my movies helps keep my career, and that of many other final girls like me, intact.”
She makes a very good point. People, after all “have a continuing interest on the young women who lived” to see the end of these types of movies. And the fact that some of them did “really changed horror movies,” at a time when Caroline was just making a name for herself.
This, of course, led to serialization. You make people care about a character, that character survives a first movie, you can make another one. The rules are off on that one, aka the character doesn’t exactly need to survive, but you got twice the mileage out of it. Or three times. Or four.
Case in point – Sharknado 4: The Fourth Awakens.
But, that’s not a scary movie, you might say. And you’d be right, it isn’t. Caroline, however, calls the people behind Sharknado “creative geniuses” and seems to “enjoy the complimentary relationship between Sharknado and Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.”
Think about it like this – horror films love chainsaws. A movie like Sharknado is made for chainsaws. Who better to supply them than someone like Stretch?
It’s a marriage made in TV heaven, as Sharknado 4: The Fourth Awakens takes us thirty years later, to find the iconic Vanita ‘Stretch’ Brock running a chainsaw store. “It’s like a western with chainsaws,” is Caroline’s description, while also adding that her cameo is “incredibly funny, crazy and keeping with the spirit of the Sharknado series”
A detour, however, doesn’t mean Caroline Williams is ready to kiss scary movies goodbye, not in the least. She’s got a new movie called Blood Fest, out this year, and the 30th anniversary of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 coming up in August. And that brings up memories. Mostly good ones.
Like the late Dennis Hopper, and the “quiet moments” she got to spend with him, moments that, to this day, remain Caroline’s best memory of shooting the film. “He taught me so much,” she reminisces, “from what my best angle was, to how to use the light to my advantage, all the little things.”
Hopper, who passed away in 2010, played ‘Lefty’ in the film, and though he sadly won’t be there when the cast and crew reunites on August 22nd, thirty years to the date the film premiered, his memory lives on. That’s the beauty of movies.
Though Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 was, all those years ago, the height of horror, Caroline laughs at the fact that now “it’s considered family viewing,” suitable even for children. Being too close to the movie, she doesn’t remember it being as scary as the rest of us do, but she does have the best scary movie story I’ve ever heard.
It comes up when I quiz her about her favorite scary movie. After saying that “The Omen and The Exorcist made the biggest impact” Caroline launches into a memory of watching The Omen when it came out, in the movie theater, with her sister. They decided to go early so they wouldn’t be scared coming out of the movie so late.
Except, when they got out the parking lot was completely empty.
“I’ve never run as fast as I did that time,” she tells me, with a little laugh. And that’s saying something for an actress who’s spent most of her career running away from all types of monsters.
Caroline Williams, however, is not a victim, no. She’s never played one, either. She’s a survivor. And if she can survive the chainsaws and the monsters and come back to be the one to sell us the chainsaws, then, we can do anything.
Catch Caroline Williams in Sharknado 4: The Fourth Awakens, which premieres on SyFy on July 31st.