It’s an iconic moment in Hollywood, a classic twist that ramps up every viewer’s pulse, even today, 30 years after The Silence of the Lambs was released.
Spoiler alert in case you’re among the handful who haven’t seen the 1991 thriller that cleaned up at the Oscars: Rookie FBI agent Clarice Starling, played by Jodie Foster, is on the trail of Buffalo Bill, a serial killer played by Ted Levine. Director Jonathan Demme leads the audience to believe that Starling’s boss, Jack Crawford, has cracked the case. Starling, it seems, is just tying up loose ends.
Then she knocks on a door.
Buffalo Bill’s house — door included — is about 280 miles west of Philadelphia, in the small town of Perryopolis, Fayette County, outside Pittsburgh. Now that Chris Rowan, a film industry art director from northwest New Jersey bought the century-old Queen Anne Victorian in January, you can spend the weekend there.
“I saw that it was for sale in 2020 and immediately started having ideas about what this place could be,” Rowan, 39, said recently.
Rowan, a horror movie buff, immediately made an appointment to tour the three-story home on the Youghiogheny River. He bought the four-bedroom home for $290,000 and set about turning it into what he calls a “boutique accommodation.” He’ll soon be letting groups rent out the whole home. He has not determined the pricing yet.
Horror fans, in particular, love this kind of stuff. Fans of the Friday the 13th series can take tours and spend the night at Camp Crystal Lake in North Jersey. In Western Pennsylvania, there’s a museum dedicated to Night of the Living Dead in the town where it was filmed, not far from the mall where Dawn of the Dead was filmed.
Rowan said he also plans to offer guided tours and on-location filming. While The Silence of the Lambs is set in Virginia, Rowan said much of the movie was filmed in the Pittsburgh area. It’s unclear how they settled on the Perryopolis home, which was built in 1910.
“They liked the aesthetics of the region, the long-winding roads and the style of the homes themselves,” he said.
The home, Rowan said, does not include Buffalo Bill’s infamous basement. The place where he cared for his death’s-head hawkmoths and sewed his skin suits, as well as the deep hole where he made his victims moisturize, were all part of a set. But give Rowan time, he said. He’s got plans for the basement.
“I’m going to try to recreate the well and his workshop of horrors,” he said.
With the recent 30th anniversary of the film and the debut of the CBS series Clarice, Rowan thinks the nostalgia will last a long time. He may even try to lure Ted Levine to the home for a weekend event or two, ideally to tell guests to put the lotion in the basket of the makeshift pit.
For the loved ones of the film’s fans, there’s at least a pool out back.