Friday, November 14, 2014

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre: 40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Allie Schembra
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre appears in an all-new 4K digital transfer and with a newly created 7.1 surround sound mix supervised by director Hooper (Poltergeist). This release marks the only transfer of the film to go back to the original 16mm A/B rolls, the actual film that rolled through the cameras. Fans of the film will recognize the unique packaging as a replica of the iconic 'Black Maria' cattle truck that comes to Sally Hardesty's rescue when she's being pursued by Leatherface, a fitting nod to the legions of TCSM enthusiasts who were instrumental in keeping the film at the forefront of the genre throughout for the past 40 years and a true collectible display piece.

Film (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
A brother and sister, Franklin and Sally, are traveling with friends, Pam, Jerry and Kirk to a cemetery in Texas, trying to find out of their grandfather’s grave was one of the graves disturbed by some unknown person.  After finding that their grandfather’s grave was untouched, the group heads back out on the road and decides to stop at the old abandoned home of a relative.  Along the way, they pick up a hitch hiker, who is just a little strange.  After cutting his own hand, slicing at one of the members of the group, and burning a photograph, they kick him out of the van and leave him on the side of the road.

Needing gas, they stop at a lone gas station, where the proprietor tells them he’s out of gas for the next few hours.  He offers them some barbecue and the gang asks for directions to the house.  The man warns them to stay away, but they go anyway.  Once they arrive, they explore the house and then Pam and Kirk decide to visit the watering hole out behind the house.  The hole is dried up, but they see a house in the distance and wonder if they can get gas there.  Upon arriving, they are attacked by a man in a mask and disappear.  Jerry goes in search for Pam and Kirk and comes upon the house.  He enters, calling out for them, when he goes into the kitchen and finds Pam, still alive in a freezer.  Before he can rescue her, the man in the mask kills him.

Sally and Franklin, still waiting for their friends, start getting nervous and, taking the flashlight, Sally pushes Franklin through the field and they find the house.  Before they can get there, they are attacked by Leatherface and Franklin is killed.  Sally, not knowing the house belongs to Leatherface runs toward it and tries to hide.  Unfortunately, she is attacked by Leatherface in the house and runs back to the gas station, where the proprietor bounds and gags her.  He takes her back to the house, where they torture and torment her.  Finally, during a moment of chaos, Sally escapes and runs for the highway where she is rescued.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a game-changing horror movie.  While not as bloody or terrifying as some of today’s films, it is terrifying in the way that you feel like this is how it could actually happen.  The actors and actresses were very believable in their roles and the direction was on point.  I’ve seen other versions of this film and they all gross me out and make me gag.  This original version digs into your brain and really makes you wonder what kind of people are out there.
Video (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The 1080p widescreen presentation of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is good.  The transfer from the old film to the new is good and there were few visible issues with it.  Blood and skin tones were colored naturally.  The night scenes with the characters running through the field were a little too blue to be realistic to me.
Audios (3 out of 5 stars)
The Texas Chan Saw Massacre is presented in various audio options: English 7.1, English 5.1, English Stereo, and Original Mono English.  Subtitles in English SDH and Spanish are available.  The volume levels were a bit inconsistent and I found my adjusting the volume during scenes with screams… which ended up being much of the last half of the film.
Extras (2 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The collector’s edition has a robust special features section.  So much so that it constituted its own disc for the feature.  That said, when many of these features ran for more than an hour (including the four commentaries), I found my bored out of my mind.  A lot doesn’t always mean good.  The information was interesting, but could have been done in so much less.  Watching the special features for a film should not take all day.

Disc One (Feature Film)
  • Commentary with Writer/Producer/Director Tobe Hooper, Actor Gunnar Hansen, Cinematographer Daniel Pearl
  • Commentary with Actors Marilyn Burns, Allen Danziger, and Paul A. Partain, and Production Designer Robert Burns
  • Commentary with Writer-Producer-Director Tobe Hooper
  • Commentary with Cinematographer Daniel Pearl, Editor J. Larry Carroll and Sound Recordist Ted Nicolaou
Disc Two (Bonus Disc)
  • The Texas Chain Saw Massacre: The Shocking Truth – Behind the scenes of the film with comments from the cast and crew. This feature with a runtime of more than an hour, talks about the ins and outs of the film, who the inspiration for the film was, and much more.
  • Flesh Wounds: Seven Stories of the Saw – Also with a runtime of more than an hour’s, this is more background about the film broken into seven different pare from various perspectives… how the film affected them, what they did in certain scenes and how their lives changed after. Also included n one part is a memorial to the cast members and crew who have passed away.
  • A Tour of TCSM House with Gunnar Hansen – The house is a beautiful business now, and Gunnar Hansen takes the view through the house explaining where each shot was taken.
  • Off the Hook with Teri McMinn – Another featurette about the film. This time with the actress who played Pam.
  • The Business of the Chain Saw: An Interview with Production Manager Ron Bozman – An interview with Ron Bozman about putting the film together.
  • New Deleted Scenes and Outtakes – 15 minutes of silent outtakes. According to the title card, sound was lost somewhere along the line. Why include this, then?
  • Grandpa’s Tales: An Interview with John Dugan – John Dugan talks about his grandpa character and how he became involved with the film.
  • Cutting Chain Saw: An Interview with Editor J. Larry Carroll – J. Larry Carroll talks about his role with the film and how it came together.
  • Deleted Scenes and Outtakes – More silent scenes and outtakes. Seriously… why include this?
  • Blooper Reel - Mistakes and bloopers from the film.
  • Outtakes from “The Shocking Truth” – Bloopers and outtakes from the behind the scenes film.
  • Horror’s Hallowed Ground: TCSM – Another featurette about the film’s filming location. This actually had some humor to it.
  • Dr. W.E. Barnes Presents “Making Grandpa” – A photo slideshow of the process in which John Dugan because Grandpa. No background music, explanations, nothing. 
  • Still Gallery – A couple of minutes of movies stills. Again, no background, no explanation.
  • Trailers – Three different trailers for the film including: 40th Anniversary Trailer, Trailer 1 and Trailer 2
  • TV and Radio Spots – Three TV spots and two radio spots for the film.
Summary (3 out of 5 stars)
I like this movie.  I’ve liked it since I first saw it many years ago.  It’s a reminder to never pick up hitch hikers, never knock on the door of a random house and always make sure your gas tank is full.  However, the special features really annoyed me and took forever to watch.  Many could have been combined or even left out.  I’m still not sure why you would include features that have no sound.  It’s a waste and really took away from my enjoyment of the film as a whole because I was so bored with the features.  Unless you are a crazy fan of this film, the features are not worth spending half your day watching.  Watch the film, enjoy it, and call it a day.

Order your copy today!

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