The Texas Chain Saw Massacre celebrates its 40th Anniversary which for the Blu-ray compiles a fine selection of bonus material including two new commentary tracks and a slew of featurettes ported over from previous releases. This is a fan’s wet dream of a release and could’ve easily been called the Ultimate Edition. For the price, which as of this writing was around $20, is well worth the cost.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Studio | Rating – 83 min. – $49.98 | September 16, 2014
THE MOVIE – 4.0/5
Plot Summary: Sally Hardesty (MARILYN BURNS) and her paraplegic brother, Franklin (PAUL A. PARTAIN), travel with three friends, Jerry (ALLEN DANZIGER), Kirk (WILLIAM VAIL), and Pam (TERI MCMINN), to visit the grave of the Hardestys’ grandfather to investigate reports of vandalism and grave robbing. Afterwards they decide to visit the old Hardesty family homestead. With the local gas station out of gas, the four split up, with Kirk and Pam going off to a local swimming hole and Sally and Franklin staying behind in the hopes the station receives a refuel delivery.
When Kirk and Pam find the watering hole dried up, they hear a generator in the distance and come upon a rundown house. They go to inquire about getting gas for their van and this is when we get our first glimpse at the grotesque but terrifying Leatherface (GUNNAR HANSEN) as he kills both without really breaking a sweat. As night falls, Sally and Franklin go looking for their friends but Leatherface awaits and the night, particularly for Sally, will become torturous as we are introduced to the f**ked up and insane family from which Leatherface came.
Quick Hit Review: The horror genre has never quite been my thing, though I do enjoy the occasional one like John Carpenter’s Halloween (even Halloween H20), Scream (which spoofed horrors of course), Friday the 13th (to an extent) and the first Saw movie (the others I can leave). Then there’s the what I think most consider The Godfather of horror, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, a 1974 ultra-low budget flick that has gone beyond gathering a cult following and has spawned numerous sequels, quasi-sequels and a remake (and a prequel to the remake) to varying degree of quality (though mostly on the lower end, of course).
My view of it, I appreciate it for the budget constraints and the fact you have amateur actors and crew members able to put together a truly frightening film that doesn’t resort to the jump scares which have permeated numerous horror-thrillers today and instead smacks you over the head with its excess and blood. It doesn’t rank very high on my list but it’s still a good little horror flick that has stood the test of time.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 4.75/5
The 4-disc set (2 BDs, 2 DVDs) comes housed in a digipak which slides into a slip cover which has an opening on the front.
Audio Commentaries – Finally beating out the remake for number of tracks, this 40th Anniversary release contains four commentaries: 1) Writer/Producer/Director Tobe Hooper, Actor Gunnar Hansen (Leatherface) and Cinematographer Daniel Pearl; 2) Actors Marilyn Burns, Allen Danziger, and Paul A. Partain, and Production Designer Robert Burns; 3) a NEW track from Tobe Hooper; and 4) another NEW one from Daniel Pearl, Editor J. Larry Carroll and Sound Recordist Ted Nicolaou.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre: The Shocking Truth (1:12:49; SD) is the story behind how this low-budget film got made under difficult circumstances (filming in the Texas heat) and how it became a cult classic.
Flesh Wounds: Seven Stories of the Saw (11:42; SD) provide some more stories behind the production of TCM.
A Tour of the TCSM House (8:03; SD) has the original Leatherface going through the original house back in 1993.
Off the Hook with Teri McMinn (17:02; HD) has the actress recount her time working on the movie including her trip scene where she sustained bruises.
The Business of Chain Saw: An Interview with Production Manager Ron Boxman (16:27; SD) – Here Boxman chats about working on the movie and how he became involved with it.
New Deleted Scenes & Outtakes (15:07; HD) are rough footage, mostly silent, giving some additional scenes never before seen.
Grandpa’s Tales: An Interview with John Dugan (15:48; HD) – Dugan gives his own stories working on the movie.
Cutting Chain Saw (10:47; HD) is an interview with Editor J. Larry Carroll.
Deleted Scenes & Outtakes (25:23; SD) include more scenes, though nothing of particular interest but some fans will get something out of them…
Blooper Reel (2:22; SD) provides footage of line flubs and on-set outtakes.
Outtakes from “The Shocking Truth” (7:40; SD) – Yes, even the documentary has some outtake footage…
Horror’s Hallowed Grounds: TCSM (20:19; SD) is easily one of my favorite shows and this addition is no different where host Sean Clark takes viewers back to the original locations.
Dr. W.E. Barnes Presents “Making Grandpa” (2:45; HD) – This shots, via a slideshow, shows the progression for the make-up process.
Also included are a Still Gallery, three Trailers and TV & Radio Spots.
VIDEO – 4.5/5
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre gets the 4K digital master treatment and I can say, this movie probably has never looked better. Colors appear to be on par with what was originally shot so it’s bolstered just for this release and instead are natural in tone. Detail levels are also incredibly sharp yet still keeping the natural grain while things like dust marks and debris has been removed making for a clean transfer.
AUDIO – 4.5/5
In the audio set-up, we get a few options. First, and by default, is a 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio track which is a good mix providing solid dialogue levels and when the horror begins, showcases some of the blood-curdling screams. However, I did find some elements had an almost echo effect in different directions, though I think it has more to do with the source than the transfer. Also available is DTS-HD MA 5.1, PCM 2.0 and the film’s original PCM Mono track which for purest is still a good option, in fact each one sounds brilliant.
OVERALL – 4.5/5
Overall, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre celebrates its 40th Anniversary which for the Blu-ray compiles a fine selection of bonus material including two new commentary tracks and a slew of featurettes ported over from previous releases. This is a fan’s wet dream of a release and could’ve easily been called the Ultimate Edition. For the price, which as of this writing was around $20, is well worth the cost whether or not you’re a big fan or just, like myself, an admirer.
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.