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The Texas Chain Saw Massacre follows a group of teenagers who wander into a Texan home only to end up held captive, tortured, chopped up, and impaled on meat hooks by a demented cannibalistic family. The 1974 low-budget horror movie directed by Tobe Hooper is celebrating its 40th Anniversary and to honour the big birthday, we’re delivered a packed out new Blu-ray.

Video


The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a low budget film and has a raw documentary grain filled look to it and fans will know it’s always going to look pretty grubby because of that. Luckily the film is, for the most part bathed in warm sunlight and generally bright set lighting, so elements that could easily slip into dark and muddy looking territory actually hold up pretty well in this HD presentation.

I haven’t sat down to watch this original Chain Saw flick in a while, probably since the days of DVD, so the upgrade here is thoroughly felt. Colours are fantastic here. The bright blue sky, green and yellows of trees and grass and brighter colours in the teenager’s clothing all look great and the warm sunlight really brings the image to life. Skin tones often feel very accurate as does the lamp lighting in the family’s home when Sally becomes their latest dinner guest.

Black levels are good, though darker scenes often slip into a grubbier appearance losing elements of detail. When Sally is being chased through the trees at night, it’s really only the lit elements that show any sort of detail and of course they are all blue, so the darkness really takes over here. This still seemed to hold more detail than I remember from the DVD release but like I say, it’s been a while. That said, shadowing is very good throughout and some of the darker elements look very crisp with tighter edges.

As I said, all of the goodness here is covered in the expected grain that comes with the film’s origins and the low budget of the project is celebrated rather than hidden beneath some DNR fix that many have worried might be the approach here, given modern audience’s feelings on grain in an HD image. From a personal point of view, and from someone that’s not seen the film since its initial DVD release, which must be coming up to 15 years ago now, this Blu-ray presentation is exactly what I like to see with older film. Everything looks right in terms of my memories of the film but all of the elements that could be improved are improved. The image feels more alive than ever, brighter, richer in detail and a real sense that this 4K restoration was about giving the film a respectful clean up without trying to perform miracles and change the look of 40 year old film in ways some anniversary editions do.

Audio


Even though the film’s audio was originally mixed for monoraul sound, the options here are many. LPCM and DTS-HD Master Audio in both 5.1 and 7.1!! These multi channel enchantments are generally quite pointless or at their strangest, they feel forced. Generally everything is quite centred on all of the tracks, with not a great deal of use of the surrounds. As the first chunk of the film is all talking and it's really only limited to the odd car passing by.

The score is quite well balanced through the 5.1 set up and adds a whole lot more power to the big dramatic Leatherface events but it can sometimes feel a little too heavy handed as the track goes from adequately strong to a heavy volume jump to hammer it home. There’s also the odd surround element such as a passing truck or the chain saw coming from the left or right that feels plonked behind us for effect and while it usually blends nicely into the front speakers, the minimal use of these sort tricks really pops you out of the moment at times as you turn to check if something has fallen over in your own kitchen rather than immediately knowing that clanking sound is actually off camera in the film.

By modern standards, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre has quite a limited mix. Big noises, such as the chain saw whirring can sometimes be very effective and rips through the set up, other times it can feel quite muted. Same goes for the thumps of a hammer or a slamming door or Sally’s never ending screaming. This is all more to do with the source and the attempts to improve the sound here without taking away the original impact of its design. It all works for the most part but new comers to the film might notice the age of the audio design more than long term fans.

Extras


Here’s where the fun begins… this 40th Anniversary edition is literally rammed with extras beginning with four commentary tracks on Disc 1

Track 1 :Writer / Producer/ Director Tobe Hooper.

Track 2: Cinematographer Daniel Pearl, Editor JK. Larry Carrol and Sound Recordist Red Nicolaou.

Track 3: Tobe Hooper, Daniel pearl and actor Gunnar Hansen.

Track 4: Actors Marilyn Burns, Allen Danziger, Paul A. Partain and Art Director Robert A. Burns.

Disc 2 is a collection of many, many documentaries and additional footage elements.

Interviews and behind the scenes include ‘Cutting Chainsaw with Editor J. Larry Carrol’ (10:47 HD), ‘Grandpaws Tales With Actor John Dugan’ (15:48 HD). There’s also ‘Off the Hook with Teri Mcminn’ (17:02 HD) and ‘The Business of Chain Saw With Production Manager Ron Bozman’ (16:25 HD).
‘Horrors Hallowed Ground(20:21 SD) a 2006 TV episode covering the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

‘New Deleted Scenes and Outtakes’ (15:07 HD) is silent footage of a ton of little snippets around the film’s shoot and elements not used in the film.
‘The Shocking Truth’ (12:48 HD) is a making of with plentyof interviews and we even get ‘The Shocking Truth Outakes’ (07:41HD) with more interview footage and fluffs.

‘Flesh Wounds Seven Stories of the Saw’ (71 mins HD) is a meaty documentary
‘House Tour with Gunnar Hansen’ (08:04 HD) raw cam footage around the infamous house in the film.

Next up we get more interviews this time the director himself ‘Tobe Hooper Interview’ (13:46 HD) and a’Kim Henkel Interview’ (08:25 HD).

Then the’res some more ‘Deleted Scenes and Outakes’ (25:23 HD) which is again very raw footage and some ‘Bloopers’ (02:23 HD).

Last up is the ‘Trailers and TV Spots’ (01:38 HD), ‘Radio Spots’ (01:03) and a Stills Gallery.

Overall


The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a film I appreciate more than I love. I don’t watch it all that often and each time I do I take something else from it. This time around I enjoyed the dark humour a lot more but that is probably because of my recent viewing of the first sequel and being more sensitive to the madcap nature of it all. It’s still a ‘classic’ I would consider worthy of its praise, largely down to the fact it still seems so unafraid to totally be its own thing and I relish just how simple it keeps the whole bloody affair. I still love the entire manic dinner table scene and Grandpaw’s hammer still holds some of tensest moments in cinema.

This 40th Anniversary Blu-ray is a worthy birthday celebration. Limitations aside, this is a great looking, good sounding presentation and  provides a solid collection of extras to enjoy every element of the making of this horror classic.

 Texas Chain Saw Massacre: 40th Anniversary Edition
 Texas Chain Saw Massacre: 40th Anniversary Edition
 Texas Chain Saw Massacre: 40th Anniversary Edition
 Texas Chain Saw Massacre: 40th Anniversary Edition
 Texas Chain Saw Massacre: 40th Anniversary Edition
 Texas Chain Saw Massacre: 40th Anniversary Edition


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