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The Texas Chain Saw Massacre(1974)
A tale of five 20-somethings whose free-spirited road trip becomes a terrifying descent into madness. When they find themselves isolated in a rural Texas community, they fall into the clutches of a monstrous clan of Texas cannibals and find themselves being whittled away by the chainsaw-wielding Leatherface.
For more about The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and the The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Blu-ray release, see the The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on January 12, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Marilyn Burns, Allen Danziger, Paul A. Partain, William Vail, Teri McMinn, Edwin Neal
Director: Tobe Hooper
» See full cast & crew
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Blu-ray Review
The dictionary definition of Horror.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, January 12, 2012
Mad and macabre.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is one of the most brutal movies ever made, but it assaults the senses rather than the eyes. Where many Horror pictures dress up their sets with blood and body parts, Director Tobe Hooper's film is instead of the type that creates a nerve-rattling environment in which terrible things take place, unimaginably grotesque and horrific things that the director shows, but doesn't show in all of the slimy, unbearable detail. The movie scrapes on the nerves and is defined by a final act that's little more than incessant outward screaming and inward agony that's personified on the screen in poor Sally (Marilyn Burns) but truly manifested within the viewer's own spirit. The movie claws its way into the very essence of its audience and refuses any breathing or maneuvering room. Its awfulness is such that one cannot escape from it, and in a strange way, it makes the audience wish not to escape from it. The movie's strength lies in its depiction of absolute genuine terror, of modern innocence clashing with something so sinister yet so basically and naturally primitive that one cannot help but to stare with jaw agape and stomach churning at the horrific picture painted in blood, sweat, and a skewed sense of reality that oozes hopelessness and sorrow in every frame, even in what is but the figurative calm before the storm. Indeed, this is the embodiment of Horror, a movie that's raw and relentless and that encapsulates the very essence of what can only be described as some kind of otherworldly, unusual brand of fundamental terror.
Five teens -- Sally and her brother Franklin (Paul A. Partain) Hardesty, Pam (Teri McMinn), Jerry (Allen Danziger), and Kirk (William Vail) -- pick up a hitchhiker in sticky hot Texas, only to find he's just a little bit off-kilter. He photographs Franklin and quickly burns the picture. He slices open his own hand, and slashes Franklin before being kicked out of the van. The teens are traveling to verify that Sally and Franklin's grandfather's tomb has not fallen victim to vandalism. Satisfied that it remains intact, they head off to the old Hardesty place when they find themselves running low on fuel and the local filling station dry. A brief visit becomes an eternal nightmare when Kirk and Pam wander off in search of a place to swim. They instead stumble upon a dilapidated old farm house that's home to a crazed family of butchers, including the deranged Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen) who maliciously and without remorse slaughters the visitors. Can the remaining teens figure out what's happened to their friends, or will they, too, succumb to a most heinous fate?
Whether ignoring the hype surrounding the movie, dismissing its reputation, and setting its legend aside or not, one can see what one wants to see in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre because it's so uniquely effective at obliterating its audience's sense of self, direction, normalcy, and safety. The movie is thought to be so brutal because it is, though it's brutal in a more terrifying, more fundamental sense than is the splatter garbage of modern cinema. The movie's title is as raw as its visuals yet far more grotesquely detailed in the image it creates in the mind than what is actually seen on the screen. The picture exudes a terrible sense of atmospheric unease, heat, dilapidation, and frightening absurdity. Its detailed and lengthy focus on the detached, brutal, yet accepted slaughter of cattle defines the entire movie and shapes all of the evil characters, characters who cling to some oddly romantic notion of the old way, a way which is so settled into their very essences that they can no longer distinguish the difference between a soulless animal and a human being, and even if they can, it's their own long-eroded soul and life of violence at the slaughterhouse that's likely to blame. These are bad people, these are crazy people, but they are normal people in their own home, and it's their off-kilter sense of normalcy and complacency and their almost robotic, heartless, and methodical way of slaughtering that's one of the film's primary sources of terror. One cannot conceive of, let alone accept, such a lifestyle of absolute detachment and indifference to human life, yet there it is, lingering on the screen in a final act where only primal screams and moral disgust may counter the grotesque activities of a family completely detached from the reality around them.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre also succeeds at wearing its audience down because it lacks slick technical polish. The rawness of the photographic style and film stock give off a complimentary grit and griminess that nails down the disgusting developments. There are no themes here; this is a pure, unadulterated story of slaughter and survival. It's a movie made only disturb its audience, certainly not to give them any kind of pleasure or any sort of hope, and definitely one not interested in even a momentary reprieve from the terror, from the awful screeching and shrieking flash bulb sounds at the beginning to Leatherface's tribal chainsaw dance at film's end. It's a film that teaches only not to pick up strangers, run out of gas, or leave home without a firearm. The movie seeks not to tell a story, but to show a terror. It attempts not to explain, but to depict. The movie is hands down the most effective combination of visual, aural, and emotional grotesqueness ever captured on film. In essence, it's the worst possible experience anyone could ever have in a movie theater, which is exactly why it's so fundamentally effective. This is the very essence of the Horror genre. It's anything the audience wants it to be and it allows for the human mind to effectively place its adjoining body and soul into the middle of the fray, to not imagine or see the terror, but to experience it almost firsthand, to feel that inner tingling and clenching fear, that uncontrollable tremble that signifies such close proximity to death and that truly lets one know that one is still alive.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre features a gritty and grimy 1080p transfer that suits the film's natural visual structure nicely enough. The image is certainly a bit soft and a hair smeary in spots. It understandably and expectedly lacks the pristine clarity of bigger-budgeted and newer movies appearing in high definition. This transfer retains the picture's unique visual character, which should be its number one priority. Detail is fair. Clothing and facial textures are moderately complex, but the image truly shines in the worn down farmhouse where chipped paint, warped wood, numerous bones, and other oddities greatly benefit from the stability and enhanced resolution of the Blu-ray format. Colors are a little dull, but steady. The green van, clothing, and the house's white and wooden accents appear stable but far from vibrant. Black levels are a touch murky and occasionally prone to crush, but they do remain deep rather than going gray. Grain retention is admirable, though some backgrounds look blocky rather than grainy. Dirt and scratches are minimal. This will never be an eye candy sort of film, save for in the eyes of those audiences who like a worn down, grainy film appearance. The transfer could stand a little bit of improvement, but all things considered it's more than a fair Blu-ray image.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre carves up home theater systems with a DTS 5.1 soundtrack. No surprise, there's little presence or body to what is a fairly reserved presentation of a classic, low-budget film. The spread to 5.1 channels does little for the overall tenor of the presentation. Surrounds are rarely engaged, let alone actively so, and the bulk of the presentation is handled by the center channel. Still, there are some good moments here. The flashbulb sounds at film's start are crisp and nicely defined, creating chilling sense of the macabre and frightening things to come. The radio news broadcast plays low but with strong clarity as it describes nothing but desecration, destruction, and death, truly setting the tone for the rest of the movie. Many shots in the first act within the rickety old van don't do much in terms of creating a true, rattly atmosphere. Even external ambience remains mostly limited to the front. Switching to the included and "resorted" monaural soundtrack does show that the 5.1 mix offers a sound that's a bit more full, but not worlds more effective. The mono presentation handles heavier elements like a whirring generator with vigor. The end screams and sounds of terror pierce the stage even through the minimalistic presentation. Dialogue is steady and suitably crisp in all cases. This is no sort of amazing soundtrack, but the presentation -- no matter the menu selection -- will carry listeners through the movie with ease.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre features a strong array of bonus materials, including two audio commentary tracks, plenty of featurettes, loads of promotional materials, deleted scenes, and two lengthy documentaries.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is an awful, vile picture, which is exactly why it's the most effective Horror film ever made. There are certainly many, probably uncountable, movies that are more slick and polished and made with a larger budget -- The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake amongst them -- but not a single one of them is as raw and unforgiving as this. Director Tobe Hooper has actually accomplished this feat through minimal use of blood, using instead the perfect atmosphere that conveys true terror like nothing before and nothing since. The movie practically sucks the life out of the audience, so close to danger and death it brings them. It's a testament to the true worth and effectiveness of the Horror genre that will likely never be bettered. Dark Sky's Blu-ray release of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre features fair video and audio to go along with plenty of extras. Highly recommended.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre: Other Editions
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The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Blu-ray, News and Updates
• New Details for Texas Chain Saw Massacre Revealed - July 30, 2008
Dark Sky Films has revealed new information about their upcoming Blu-ray release of 'The Texas Chain Saw Massacre' which is due to hit store shelves on September 30th. Video specs have not been released, but audio will come in the form of 5.1 DTS or 2.0 PCM (it ...
• Texas Chainsaw Massacre Announced for Blu-ray - May 30, 2008
Dark Sky Films has announced that they will release the horror classic 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' for Blu-ray on September 30th. Full specs for the release are still forthcoming, but word has trickled down that the release will include never before seen bonus features. ...
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