News Column

First-time filmmaker unearths Grimes County ghost story

July 24, 2014

By Jenny Twitchell, The Eagle, Bryan, Texas

July 24--When he set out to make his first movie, Texas native Ed Collins decided that he wanted to tell a family friendly ghost story inspired by his own family tree.

"I've heard this legend since I was 8 years old -- that Anton was going to get you," Collins said.

Collins' debut film, The Ghosts of Grimes County -- The Return, will premiere at 7:30 p.m. on July 31 at Miller's Theater in Navasota. The movie tells the story of a Grimes County family haunted and shattered by the loss of a child.

Anton was 8 when his greedy father decided that he didn't want to share his watermelon and whiskey, so he put poison in them. Young Anton found the whiskey, and it took his life.

After Anton's death, family members reported that the boy came to see them, and unexplainable events started happening all around town.

"The family couldn't justify why this kid died, and it tore them apart," Collins said.

Though the family was ultimately reconciled, the healing process took decades and was marked by recurring tragedies.

"What you have to understand is this goes on for 80-plus years," Collins said. "Anybody that got a hold of this family's money changed. If they got some land or whatever, bad things happened to them. They were jinxed. Everyone in that family dies in June, July or September -- all the siblings. It's kind of like a family curse, worse than the Kennedys."

Collins said the long history of unexplained occurrences surrounding the story of Anton and his family made him nervous to make the film. He said he asked local clergy to bless each filming site, but said he and his crew still had unsettling experiences of their own.

"We would go to one house, and my truck wouldn't start," Collins said. "That would only happen at that one spot. A lot of weird things like that would happen. At one house we were filming in, books would just fall off the shelf. It was just bizarre. All kind of strange things happened when we were filming."

Collins was born in Houston, and has lived in Spring for more than 40 years. He said he wanted the film to have an authentic Texas feel to it, so it was filmed in Grimes County and almost the entire cast (with one exception) is from Texas. The cast ranges from ages 8 to 80 and includes members of multiple races.

Despite the darker elements of the story, Collins was determined to keep the movie family friendly, so there is no nudity or profanity, and it is rated PG. While there is a tale of sorrow for Anton and his family, Collins said he hopes the family's reconciliation and the diversity of the cast will leave viewers with a sense of healing and unity.

"I wanted a very diversified cast to show no matter what your race or religion, we can all get along and be in a movie," he said. "I believe in harmony in the world. Everyone can get along."

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Source: Eagle (Bryan, TX)

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