Just outside Pittsburgh is a macabre icon, complete with a statue of Hannibal Lecter.
Buffalo Bill’s house in “The Silence of the Lambs”, it’s the stuff of nightmares, but for die-hard fans of the film, staying there is a dream come true.
You can now rent the serial killer’s fictional home in Perryopolis, Pa., 30 miles from Pittsburgh. Groups of up to eight can relax in the fully furnished, 112-year-old house, watch the iconic film, and taste liver, beans and good Chianti in the kitchen. (Like Hannibal Lecter, you’ll have to hunt down your own ingredients.)
“Hello Clarice …”
This past October, Chris Rowan, a self-described horror geek living in New Jersey, read an article about the iconic piece of real estate. At the beginning of this year, he owned it.
âHorror has always been ubiquitous in my life,â he says. “Buffalo Bill’s House is a blend of my passion for horror movies and my career.”
As a professional in the film industry and longtime host of the New York Horror Film Festival, he knows people are drawn to film destinations like flame moths. He visited the Campsite “Friday the 13th” in New Jersey, “The Amityville Horror” house on Long Island and Freddy Krueger’s Elm Street are digging in California.
Buying the Fayette County building was a no-brainer for Rowan, who first saw the film when it hit theaters in 1991.
His background as an art director and prop stylist makes him the perfect person to bring the deadly backdrop to life on screen to the delight of fans. No other filming location in the country has this level of privacy and exclusivity, Rowan says.
Guests are given an electronic key code and have full access to the building and grounds, which are monitored 24 hours a day by an outdoor CCTV system. Bill’s is not a bed and breakfast that rents individual rooms, but rather a private house rental where guests and their booked group have exclusive use of the house. Think of it as a ghoulish Airbnb.
The Victorian Queen Anne-style structure features four bedrooms, a large foyer, living room, dining room, kitchen and living room, all of which are decorated with ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ themed artwork (including much of it was donated by artists around the country) and items used on screen. The Attic, nicknamed Buffalo Bill’s Playhouse, is a retro-inspired game room that features a pool table, books, vintage arcade games, a 65-inch flat-screen TV, and over 400 DVD movies and VHS.
“He puts the lotion on his skin, or he picks up the hoseâ¦”
Although the basement well scenes were filmed in a warehouse near Pittsburgh, Rowan is recreating the setting in the existing coal cellar, with lotion in a basket. Meanwhile, visitors can relax in Buffalo Bill’s studio, custom-designed for selfies and TikTok Videos. Put on a kimono and dance to “Goodbye Horses” under a disco ball.
In addition to the charming accommodations, the two-acre property has a fire pit, barbecue, picnic tables, koi pond, two water fountains, fruit trees, a lookout and a caboose from the 1950s. An inground pool will open next summer.
With the exception of service animals, real pets are not allowed on the site, but there is a Bichon Frize toy named Precious that is available for photo ops. Guests also receive a complimentary bottle of Buffalo Bill’s House Body Lotion and other “Silence” items. You can stock up on t-shirts, enamel pins, lip balm, face masks, and bloody gifts for your friends and family.
So what’s it like to stay at Buffalo Bill?
After winning an Instagram contest in June, New Yorker Jeanette Milo, a Pittsburgh graduate Tom’s Savini Special Makeup Effects Program – was the first guest to stay at Buffalo Bill’s.
The longtime movie buff has visited dozens of filming locations over the years, but it was more of a visceral vacation for Milo and his fear-loving friends, who find a strange sort of solace in horror movies.
âYou don’t forget a movie like this,â she said. âRecreating the scenes in the same house where they were filmed is a pleasure that only true fans understand. This charming accommodation has so many memories just waiting to be created. I am so lucky to have been the first .
Most of the year there is a minimum stay of one night, but you must book for two nights during major holidays, including Valentine’s Day, which is the anniversary of the film’s release.
This project is a labor of love for Rowan, who has been meticulously preparing the decor for a year. He hopes to collaborate with local businesses to flesh out tourists’ vacations.
You don’t have to be a sleuth like Clarice Starling to find other “Silence” filming locations in the area. Rowan provides information on famous landmarks within an hour’s drive of Bill’s Pad, including the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and the apartment complex where Buffalo Bill kidnaps Catherine Martin. Horror enthusiasts can also visit the Evans City Cemetery – where the opening scene of George A. Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” was filmed – and the Monroeville Mall, the backdrop to its followed by “Dawn of the Dead”. (The director even has a flashing cameo and you miss it in âSilence.â)
Rowan will soon be offering guided tours for people who want to experience the scene without spending the night. Professional filmmakers can rent the space for the shoots and pray that the success of the Oscar-winning film rubs off on their work.
In the future, the house will host film screenings, dinners and special events with celebrity meetups.
When not maintaining Buffalo Bill’s house, Rowan takes to the horror convention circuit to attract new victims, uh, visitors.
âBuffalo Bill’s House is a legitimate family business run by movie buffs,â Rowan says. âI want to be part of this community and share this experience with the rest of the world. “
?? All photos are courtesy of Buffalo Bill’s House.