Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Marilyn Burns, Jim Siedow, Edwin Neil, Gunnar Hansen, Paul Partain
Directed by Tobe Hooper
Distributed by Dark Sky Films
It was the early Eighties and we had just gotten our first VCR. Immediately I set out to find all those movies I had only heard or read about. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was at the top of my list, but it was always checked out at my local video store. I pestered them night and day and eventually just left my phone number so they could ring me when it was in. Finally they called, and it was mission accomplished, baby! Upon watching it, a few things became apparent — The movie itself looked as if it had been bootlegged onto a tape rather than released by a filmmaker. It all seemed shockingly real, and the poor quality of the image added to its mystique. This was cinema off the rails and out of control. I never returned the tape. In fact, I still have it. (Side note to any of the folks from Madajo’s Video in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, who might happen to be reading — screw you and your late fees! That’s what you get for not stocking Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things!)
Now that we’re well into the digital age, DVD is giving way to the new high definition medium of Blu-ray technology. In full 1080p movies can look astounding. You can see every single detail of a frame that you may never have noticed before. Even the sound mixes (of which there are three included here) are light years ahead of those from days gone by. Yet, here is a film that screams to be watched under the worst of circumstances. All the grain of the original 16mm film gave the movie that gritty documentary type feel that absolutely cannot be replicated, even in this advanced day and age (sorry, Platinum Dunes). So the question beckons — in 1080p does the original Chain Saw lose some of its charm?
The happy answer is no. Not even close. True, some of the natural image distorting elements like dust specks, scratches, and some grain have been removed from the transfer for its restoration, but you won’t be missing them. The main reason why is that despite these necessary omissions, the movie still retains every single ounce of its tension-filled, claustrophobic feel. The difference is that you can now see the onscreen horrors so much clearer. The colors are alive, breathing, and more vibrant than you would ever expect. At first glance it’s fairly jaw-dropping. This adds a bit more of an unexpectedly nightmarish and surreal quality to things, but never — and this is important — never to the point that elicits distraction. The film we love so very much is still heartily intact, and even the staunchest cinema purists out there will find little to complain about.
The movie now sounds as good as it looks, too. The 5.1 surround mix will envelope you in the terror like never before. Your nerves will be sufficiently jangled as every shriek of terror and rev of the saw fills your room with unparalleled realism. It can’t be explained. It just needs to be experienced. Wow.
Other than the sound and picture quality, there’s also one new Blu-ray exclusive featurette to be found here: Off the Hook with Teri McMinn in which we get a pretty entertaining interview with the first chick to ever get lovingly slammed down upon old Leather’s favorite kitchen hook. For more insight concerning the rest of the plentiful special features included in this package, read The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Ultimate Edition DVD review here!
Dark Sky Films has pulled off quite a feat. They’ve taken an already incredible film and turned it into a unique and fresh viewing experience. Sitting through The Texas Chain Saw Massacre like this is akin to watching it again for the very first time. It’s truly eye-popping in its ghastly beauty, and if you’re a Blu-ray owner, there’s now a really good reason to get all revved up!
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
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