It’s been 40 years since Tobe Hoopers original 1974 film
“The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” shocked audiences around the world. Banned in
the UK upon its
original release, it wasn’t until 1999 that UK
audiences finally got to see what all the fuss was about and has since enjoyed
a popular life on home video.
Now Second Sight films are releasing a brand new digitally
restored 4k version to Blu-ray with brand new special features exclusive to
this release together with a mix of existing features from previous versions
for their new 40th Anniversary Blu-Ray.
I’m sure we’re all familiar with the story, a group of
teenagers go out for a drive one weekend in rural Texas
and decide to visit the remains of their old grandfathers farmhouse.
Unfortunately, it seems the people on the next farm are none too receptive
towards visitors, as one by one the kids go off exploring their surroundings
and come up against Leatherface, a maniac wearing a mask made of human skin and
a penchant for using chainsaws.
Hailed as the prototype of the modern slasher film, it does
look somewhat dated by todays standards. Indeed, many have joked that perhaps
the most shocking thing about it now is the terrible 70s flared trousers and
hairstyles. The film has been re-issued several times over the years, but this
latest Blu-ray release has been struck from a brand new 4k master, supervised by
Tobe Hooper himself.
Now, a quick word about this new restored version. I took
the liberty of viewing this on a friends 50” Samsung HDTV
and comparing it to the Second Sight’s previous DVD
release. Now, it would have been better if I had their previous Blu-ray to hand
for a fairer comparison, but as I don’t own that, the DVD
had to do.
Overall, the new Blu-ray was certainly a lot brighter, edges
were more cleanly defined and there wasn’t any pixilation or blurring when
there was a lot of fast action taking place compared to the DVD. Now, I’m not sure how the previous
Blu-ray would have compared, but all things considered, the new disc has the edge.
This being said however, owing to the limits of the films
original 16mm elements, the film is still noticeably soft and grainy and
arguably looks better displayed on a smaller screen. Indeed, viewed side by
side on my laptops 17” screen, the only thing the new version had going for it
was the brighter colours. So, personally speaking, I don’t think this new 4K
restoration is the be all and end all as the film is never going to look better
than the original film stock.
Extras wise however, the film contains a very nice mix of
old and new features, which are spread across 2 Blu-rays.
On disc 1, you get 4 audio commentary tracks accompanying
the main feature. The first two being brand new to this release, one with
director Tobe Hooper and the second with crew members Daniel Pearl, Ted
Nicolaou J. Larry Carroll. The other commentaries being carried over from
previous releases, one featuring Tobe Hooper Gunnar Hansen and cinematographer Daniel Pearl,
the other featuring stars Marilyn Burns, Allen Danziger, Paul Partain and
production designer Robert Burns.
On disc 2 you have a number of new features including..
Cutting Chainsaw feature with editor J Larry Caroll (11mins)
Grandpaw’s Tales with actor John Duggan (15mins)
An episode of Sean Clarks “Horrors Hollowed Grounds” series (20mins),
which looks at the filming locations of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”.
And a bunch of new deleted scenes and out take footage
(15mins), which are mostly just unused alternate takes, which are presented
Also included are a number of extras that featured on
previous releases, including..
Documentary “The Shocking Truth” including outtakes from the
Documentary “Flesh Wounds – Seven Stories of the Saw”
“Off the Hook” (17min) an interview actress with Terry
“Buisiness of the Chainsaw” (16mins) interview with producer
“House Tour” (8mins) Gunnar Hanser looks round the old house
used in the film before and after it was moved to its present location.
And theres also a couple of archive interviews with Tobe
Hooper (13mins), Kim Henkel (8mins) and a selection of deleted scenes, trailers,
TV spots and stills galleries which featured on the previous editions.
The film is released in both standard BD packaging and in a
special limited edition Steelbook.