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A view on Hi-def DVDs by Gary W. Tooze

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre [Blu-ray]

 

(Tobe Hooper, 1974)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Studio:

Video: Dark Sky Films

 

Discs:

Region: FREE (repressed version coded region 'A')

Feature Runtime: 1:23:24

Chapters: 13

Feature film disc size: 21.48 Gig

One dual-layered disc

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: September 30th, 2008

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: ?

 

Audio:
English DTS Dolby Digital 5.1, 2.0 PCM Lossless, original mono (restored)

Subtitles:
Spanish, English, Spanish, none
 

Supplements:

• Commentary with actors Marilyn Burns, Pail A. Partain, Allen Danziger, and art director Robert A. Burns
• Commentary with director Tobe Hooper and art director Robert A. Burns
• Featurette: "'Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Shocking Truth"  (1:12:53)
• Featurette: "Flesh Wounds: Seven Stories of the Saw" (1:11:41)
• A Tour of TCSM house with Gunnar Hansen (8:03)
• Theatrical trailers, TV Spots, Radio Spots and Stills Gallery
• Deleted Scenes + Outtakes (25:23)

Blooper Reel (2:22)

'Making Grandpa' Makeup slideshow

"The Shocking Truth" Outtakes (7:33)

Blu-ray exclusive "Off the Hook" with Teri McMinn (17:01)

 

 

Product Description: It has been called “grisly,” “sick,” and “perverse,” as well as “raw,” “unshakeable,” and “the movie that redefined horror.” It was attacked by churches, banned by governments, and acclaimed by only the bravest of critics. It stunned audiences worldwide and set a new standard in movie terror forever. In 1974, writer-producer-director Tobe Hooper unleashed this dark, visionary tale about a group of five young friends who face a nightmare of torment at the hands of a depraved Texas clan. Today it remains unequaled as a landmark of outlaw filmmaking and unparalleled in its impact as perhaps the most frightening motion picture ever made...

 

 

 

Introduction: "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... 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 Chainsaw Massacre."

 

The Film:

The original “Texas Chain Saw Massacre” is a film of awful beauty and terrible power. It is made of screams, bones, spraying blood, chicken feathers, tall grass, two hot days, and threatening old houses. Its sound design is an ingenuous, repetitive cacophony of roaring power tools, terrified screeching, crunching flesh, and endlessly humming engines. The score replaces melody with ominous rumbles and percussive noises. I covered my ears—I couldn’t hear myself think—the chainsaw just keeps going and going, recreating in the minds of the audience precisely the thought-drowning and confused torment of the characters. “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” is the direct descendent of that other low-budget horror classic, “Night of the Living Dead.” Similarly, we can’t imagine it maintaining its nightmarish intensity with a large budget, classy effects, or any kind of polish. Both films have big budget remakes which opened to critical rejection. No, “Texas Chain Saw Massacre’s” all-out attack on the senses feels just like a nightmare: grainy, blurry, washed out, raw, with voices that die in the air while the rumble of the chain saw goes on and on. 

 

  Excerpt from Friday and Saturday Review located HERE
 

Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Being such a limited production, it's easy to anticipate that you can't do a lot with the original 16mm ECO camera negatives by rendering them to 1080p resolution. This is more or less true - you can't, even digitally, get a 'silk purse from a sow's ear'. I've never even seen this film before and I had nothing to compare it to - but you could see the pragmatic production levels - especially in the first 20 minutes. It looked quite weak - no depth - artifacts, speckles - but after that first initial 1/3 of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre the image quality settles down a bit with some much improved visuals. Colors seem to become more prominent, outdoor scenes show superior detail (where virtually none existed prior). Noise is, obviously, inherent when pushing the source to this level and this is still light years from the best this format can produce. So while I was certainly not expecting the more extravagant attributes of dual-layered Blu-rays - (the feature takes up 21.48 Gig) - I was moderately impressed with the re-mastering. I'm not certain but thought I saw some DNR usage via the two sky scenes that have a weird softness. I can only state, though, that fans of the film will probably be quite thrilled with how this looks in high-definition and I suspect most, especially those who've seen it in other digital forms, will be very satisfied with the visual appearance of this Blu-ray. It's a minimal budget film made almost 35 years ago. Hopefully the captures below will give you an idea of how it will look on your system.

 

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music:  
They have done the same diligent attempt at improvement with the audio. There is
English DTS Dolby Digital 5.1 bump, 2.0 PCM Lossless, and an original mono (restored) track to choose from. I tested all three before settling with the restored mono (being that type of guy) BUT I was suitably impressed with the 'Lossless' returning a number of times and repeating some scenes. No matter what mix was put to the presentation - it would not advance to the higher echelons of dynamic separations and grandiose aural effects that some have set as the norm. Like the image, there is substantial weakness but I noted none of a significant stature (dropouts, etc.) although minor hiss existed. Dialogue, is probably going to be as clean and clear as it ever has or will.

 

 

 

Extras:
Supplements are mostly duplicated from the previous SDs (like the Ultimate Edition) - and the featurettes are all in standard definition. Two commentaries exist but even fans may not be overwhelmed. I suppose in an era where I've heard 100's upon 100's of commentaries by now - and many are Criterion level - you get used to a certain standard of preparation and professionalism. Both of these imparted a lot of information but, perhaps, as I was not really into the film - I personally, didn't have a great time with listening. Others may. I won't go into detail about all the other supplements but the two main featurettes - "'Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Shocking Truth" and "Flesh Wounds: Seven Stories of the Saw" run almost 1 1/4 hour each! I kind of sneered at the high-handed self-promotion details but admit I learned an awful lot about the film, history and participants who struggled with this in the hot Texas summer sun way back when. There is still about an hour's worth of extras including, what is touted as, a
Blu-ray exclusive; "Off the Hook" with Teri McMinn as she related some of her memories of making the film for about 20 minutes. Suffice to say the extras are overwhelming and fans, both old and budding, should certainly be content.

 

Bottom line:
I'm not really one to extol The Texas Chain Saw Massacre as the groundbreaking experiment that some label it. I see the perceived value and an artistic side to the creation - those bountiful extras surely develop appreciation but I'm just not a fan. For those that are (there are hundreds of websites on this film) the
Blu-ray transfer should be quite a special treat. It's undoubtedly the definitive representation for your home theater - so, well done Dark Sky Films!

Gary Tooze

September 23rd, 2008

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD player (firmware upgraded)

Sony BDP-S300 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player (firmware upgraded)
Sony DVP NS5ODH SD-DVD player (region-free and HDMI)

Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

Gary W. Tooze

 

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