The Texas Chainsaw Massacre opens in August 18th, 1973 where a dead body’s been perched on a monument after its owner was clearly put through some pain prior to the life being taken.
People can do stupid things when they’re young and a group of hippies travelling about first pick up a hitchhiker who cuts himself and one of their group, the wheelchair-bound Franklin (Paul A Partain) and then stumble upon a house in which not all of them will get out alive, but who will stay and who will escape?
And do you care? This is the first time I saw it and it’s incredibly dated for a film that’s nearly thirty years old as there’s no semblance of plot and pacing is weak. One character is bashed unconscious by the one and only Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen), before being decapitated with a chainsaw, another is lifted up and impaled on a butcher’s hook before being left to cool off in a freezer and another… well, you get the idea. Oh, and the bad guy’s got equally-disturbed relatives too.
There’s a lot less gore than I expected given the film’s iconic status that it achieved over the years, but then maybe I’ve become desensitised to this sort of thing after seeing a number of slasher flicks – a genre that’s largely died a death (ahem!), due to it being a common staple for many young actors nowadays.
The film is meant to be in 1.85:1 widescreen but looks a little less wide than that because, courtesy of it not being anamorphic, you have to zoom the picture in to fill a widescreen TV and this results in opening credits getting cut off the bottom of the screen, as well as not being able to see much of the van in a longshot when they pick up a hitchhiker.
The print used is thankfully free of blemishes, but it is rather on the soft side. However, certainly no more so than you’d expect if you’ve been more used to an old VHS recording.
The film has a stereo surround soundtrack, but not that you’d really notice, save for Leatherface waving his favourite toy around at the end…
However, for a Special Edition, there are quite a number of extras listed:
- The Shocking Truth (72 mins): An extensive documentary, presented in 16:9 letterbox, with chat from all the necessary cast and crew members. It runs nearly as long as the film itself, so you’ll need to be a fan to enjoy it.
- Interview with Tobe Hooper (14 mins): The director talks to the camera with further thoughts on the filming. Presented in 4:3 fullscreen.
- Interview with Kim Henkel (8½ mins): And more from the co-writer. Presented in 4:3 fullscreen.
- Deleted Scenes and Alternate Footage (17 mins): Six of the former and four of the latter, all in rather ropey 4:3 fullscreen.
- Outtakes (2 mins): Does exactly what it says on the tin.
- Trailers: Two for the original film, one for the initial release and one for the re-release, plus one each for the three sequels, the fourth film starring Renee Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey.
- Original TV ads: Two brief ones.
- Props and Sets (6 mins): A closer look at the set design. You can just imagine Loyd Grossman walking round asking “Who lives in a house like this?”
- Film and Production Stills: 56 of them to be precise.
- Posters and Lobby Cards: And there’s plenty more.
- DVD-ROM weblink: A link to the official website if you haven’t had enough yet, or “just go to
the website”, as it says, at: The Chainsaw.com (no longer active)
- Audio commentary: Hidden under the audio menu, the commentary comes courtesy of director Tobe Hooper, director of photography Daniel Pearl and Leatherface himself, Gunnar Hansen.
There are no subtitles for the film, a mere 16 chapters to break it up and, yes I am going to enthuse about something here, fantastic blood-coloured menus in 3D including motion between the menus and sounds from the film.
Running time: 80 minutes
Distributor: Revolver Entertainment
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0 (Dolby Surround)
Disc Format: DVD9
Director: Tobe Hooper
Producers: Tobe Hooper and Lou Peraino
Screenplay: Kim Henkel and Tobe Hooper
Music: Wayne Bell, Tobe Hooper and John Lennon
Sally Hardesty: Marilyn Burns
Jerry: Allen Danziger
Franklin Hardesty: Paul A Partain
Kirk: William Vail
Pam: Teri McMinn
Old Man: Jim Siedow
Leatherface: Gunnar Hansen
Grandfather: John Dugan
Window Washer: Robert Courtin
Narrator: John Larroquette
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.