THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE
Directed by Tobe Hooper
Written by Kim Henkel & Tobe Hooper
Cinematography by Daniel Pearl
Music by Wayne Bell & Tobe Hooper
Cast: Marilyn Burns, Allen Danziger, Paul A. Partain, William Vail, Teri McMinn, Edwin Neal, Jim Siedow & Gunnar Hansen
1974/84 mins/Color/Dolby Digital 5.1
1.78:1 anamorphic/English/US/NTSC Region 1
The film which you are about to see is an account of the tragedy which befell a group of five youths, in particular Sally Hardesty and her invalid brother, Franklin. It is all the more tragic in that they were young. But, had they lived very, very long lives, they could not have expected nor would they have wished to see as much of the mad and macabre as they were to see that day. For them an idyllic summer afternoon drive became a nightmare. The events of that day were to lead to the discovery of one of the most bizarre crimes in the annals of American history, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
Thirty years later THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE is still a raw, primal and unrelenting movie experience. This 16mm low budget independent flick quickly became an international hit and horror classic. The lovely Marylin Burns gives an extremely powerful performance as the last victim, Sally. The chase sequence between her and Leatherface still had me on the edge of seat. I'm still amazed on how great that movie still is. Burns had earlier played in Wes Craven' sex pseudo documentary, TOGETHER.
Unfortunately for Tobe Hooper, he never managed to obtain the same degree of success. Future movies prouved to be met with fustration with the majors (LIFEFORCE, POLTERGEIST) or simply terrible (EATEN ALIVE, THE MANGLER and too many to name). As a director, Tobe Hooper has yet to prove his "greatness". The main reason for all this was that THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE was a cooperative effort from the cast and crew who were young and hungry to make the film.
Original titles were HEADCHEESE, STALKING LEATHERFACE and LEATHERFACE but just before its release it was changed to THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE. The movie was shot in 32 days in terribly hot temperature. The movie which originally costed around $140 000 ended up making over $30 millions in theaters. Yet the production team saw little to no money from it. No studios would touch the film for release and when someone did, they were supposedly connected with the mafia, especially the film's co-producer Lou Periano who had previously produced DEEP THROAT.
The movie is very loosely based on the real life serial killer Ed Gein. For 25 years, it was actually banned from the UK thanks to the facist BBFC secretary James Ferman. Along with LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, THE EXORCIST, JAWS, SUSPIRIA, THE OMEN, HALLOWEEN, DAWN OF THE DEAD and ALIEN, Tobe Hooper's movie is one of the quintessential horror movie of the 1970s. I was too young to see this one in theater when it came out but I remember seeing the oversized video cassette box next by the ones for LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT and FACES OF DEATH. One thing that really surprised me, is the amount of people that claimed to have seen this classic and pretend it to be bloody... when there is little to no blood in the film. Same with the ones who actually though it actually happened.
In 2003, Hollywood big gun Michael Bay produced a remake. Marcus Nispel took the directing chair and fans worldwide were furious. Despite being one of the worst of the horror remakes, the New Line Cinema film was a huge hit and made over $80 million during its US theatrical run. Surprisingly, cinematographer Daniel Pearl came back behind the camera for the remake.
THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE buzz is way on DVD thanks to Dark Sky Films. The movie is presented in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio and it is anamorphic. A HD transfer was done from the original 16mm negatives. The movie has never looked that good. Still no need to worry, it still has that grim and dirty look. There is some dust and grains but it doesn't get annoying or anything since its part of the original look of the film. This is a much better transfer then the previous ones available. The disc features a newly remastered 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround, a 2.0 Stereo track and the original 2.0 Mono track. All of them are loud, crisp, clear and without any hiss or noise. English and Spanish subtitles are available. The film is separated in 13 chapters.
The disc contains two commentary tracks. The first one is the same as the Laserdisc and various DVD edition. It features director Tobe Hooper, cinematographer Daniel Pearl and actor Gunnar Hansen. The second and new one features actors Marilyn Burns, Paul A. Partain, Allen Danziger and Art Director Robert A. Burns and it is moderated David Gregory. Both tracks are very interesting and a must for fans of this classic. In the first one, Hooper and company go into much of the details behind the making of the film. The second one feels more like a reunion of old friends who recollect what happened during that hot summer of 1973.
As expected the second disc is jam packed with extras. First of all we get the very interesting, informative and detailed THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE The Shocking Truth documentary. This 72 minutes documentary made in 2000 by David Gregory is a must see for fans of the film. Everything that you ever wanted to know about this classic is in there. One of the best docummentary along with DOCUMENT OF THE DEAD and Dario Argento's WORLD OF HORROR. Surprisingly, there's a big part about the sequel and how Cannon Films fucked it up, how New Line Cinema turned the third one bloodless and the mess around the fourth one thanks to Columbia Tristar.
Next is another 72 minutes documentary on the film called 'Flesh Wounds'. Produced by Dark Sky Films it features an interesting interview with cinematorgrapher Daniel Pearl, a tour of the house has it is right now, an interview with hitch-hiker Edwin Neal and a tribute to Paul A. Partain, Jim Siedow and Robert A. Burns. The documentary also takes a look at creator make-up fx, the Cinema Wasteland convention that featured the 30th Anniversary reunion and other conventions. Finally there's an interview with Leatherface himself, Gunnar Hansen.
Actor Gunnar Hansen takes us through an 8 minutes tour of the original house used in the movie. We get around 25 minutes of deleted scenes and outtakes. The ones with Leatherface are the most interesting. We see another side of the character that was later explore in TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE NEXT GENERATION. Some scenes have audio while others have commentaries. Next is a blooper reel, 8 minutes outtakes from 'The Shocking Truth' documentary, Dr. We Barnes presents 'Making Grandpa' is a still gallery taking us into all the steps behind the make-up for the Grandpa character. Finally, there's an extensive still gallery with posters, lobby cards from around the world, behind-the-scenes, memoribilia, montage and more. Both disc features nicely designed animated menus with music.
Counting official releases, this is the 17th time that THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE is getting a DVD edition. Others were: R0 Australia - (Force Video - Deluxe Edition), R0 AE Australia - (Force Video), R0 SE Australia - (Force Video),, R0 United Kingdom - (Blue Dolphin), R1 SE America 1998 - (Pioneer Home Entertainment), R1 SE America 2003 - (Pioneer Home Entertainment), R2 Austria - (NSM Records), R2 CE France - (Universal Pictures), R2 SE France - (Universal Pictures), R2 Germany - (Laser Paradise), R2 Holland - (Vortex/H.O.M. Vision), R2 Italy - (Digital Studio), R2 Scandinavia - (SME), R2 SE Scandinavia - (Atlantic Film/Midget Entertainment), R2 Spain - (Manga Films) and R2 SE United Kingdom - (Universal Pictures). Another nice presentation from Dark Sky Films.
"Who will survive... and what will be left of them?"
This Film Features:
Review by Kim Dubuisson. All Right Reserved. 2006. ©