The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

A group of friends travels through the back roads of Texas, on a trek to visit the grave of a grandfather and make sure it hasn’t been desecrated. The grave is located in a cemetery that was ransacked recently, so they want to assess the potential damage in person. Sally (Marilyn Burns) is the granddaughter of the man, but she didn’t want to come alone, so she enlisted some friends. The group consists of her boyfriend Jerry (Allen Danziger), friends Pam (Teri McMinn) and Kirk (William Vail), and her brother Franklin (Paul A. Partain), who is confined to a wheelchair. The friends are soon joined by an unusual man when they pick up a hitch-hiker (Edwin Neal), a decision they quickly regret. As soon as he enters the van, the hitch-hiker behaves like an insane person, then cuts his own hand and also slices Franklin with the blade. The hitch-hiker is booted out and soon, the group arrives at a deserted farmhouse. The place is rundown and as isolated as could be, but the group decides to check out the swimming hole and stay for a while. But when it turns out someone already lives in the ramshackle house, the friends will soon wish they’d never left home…

This is a true landmark film, a movie that redefined a genre and even after over three decades, stands as one of the icons of horror cinema. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is an institution of horror, a status that is doubtful to change in the near future. When lists of the best and scariest horror films of all time are released, without fail, you’ll find this one toward the top. Even now, the film has a reputation as one of the bloodiest and most sadistic films ever produced, which is kind of unusual. The film doesn’t have that much blood involved and in truth, much of the violence takes place off screen. By modern standards, the blood and violence of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is rather tame. What makes the movie so effective is the atmosphere, which has a brutal, realistic feel that never relents. This isn’t a slick thriller shot on sound stages with ten of millions of dollars, this was a low rent production in all aspects. But the cast and crew poured their blood, sweat, and tears into the movie and it shows, no doubt. These days, horror fans are lucky to get some decent gore and some cheap scares, but a movie like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre reminds us how good this genre can be. I was anxious to check out this Blu-ray release and in the end, Dark Sky Films has given us the definitive version of this horror classic, a must own for even casual fans.

Video: How does it look?

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. This will never be mistaken for a polished studio picture, but this is a much improved presentation. The film stock used and budget limitations are evident, but the movie has never looked this good on home video. The inherent grain is still here, but the image is still clear and provides a more refined look than ever before. So while the image remains true to the source, it benefits from the added resolution, even if it isn’t eye popping in terms of depth. The colors and contrast perform well, as dictated by the visual design. In short, this won’t floor first timers, but fans will be more than satisfied.

Audio: How does it sound?

You can choose between three soundtracks here, a DTS 5.1 option, a lossless PCM 2.0 track, and the original mono soundtrack, all fine choices. I sampled all three, but as usual, stuck with the original mono. The simple presence of the mono option seems more natural, as the other tracks sometimes come off as thin and overstretched. The new remix sounds more than decent however, so don’t fault the technical merits, its just that in this case, less is more. In any case, whichever soundtrack you choose will prove to be an effective one. This disc also includes English and Spanish subtitles.

Supplements: What are the extras?

New to this Blu-ray release is an interview with Teri McMinn, which is worth a look. The rest of the supplements are back from previous incarnations, but it is a great selection of goodies. The disc houses the original audio commentary with director Tobe Hooper, cinematographer Daniel Pearl, and star Gunnar Hansen. Also here is the commentary with art director Robert A. Burns and several of the film’s stars, including Marilyn Burns. Actually, the track isn’t brand new, but it was unreleased until now, so it is new to most fans. Also on deck are radio and television promos, as well as some of the film’s theatrical trailers. The best of the supplements is a feature length documentary titled Texas Chain Saw Massacre: The Shocking Truth. This is an in depth piece that offers as candid a look at how the film was made as possible. An exhaustive, well crafted look inside this horror classic that no fan of the film can afford to miss. A second feature length piece is also found here, but Flesh Wounds isn’t up to the same level. I think it could have been trimmed down a lot in places and given the depth of the other documentary, some of Flesh Wounds is just redundant. The rest of the extras include the blooper reel, some deleted scenes, and a tour of the infamous farmhouse, hosted by Leatherface himself.

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