17th Nov2014

‘The Texas Chain Saw Massacre: 40th Anniversary Restoration’ Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Marilyn Burns, Edwin Neal, Allen Danziger, Paul A. Partain, William Vail, Teri McMinn, Jim Siedow, Gunnar Hansen, John Dugan | Written by Tobe Hooper, Kim Henkel | Directed by Tobe Hooper


When it comes to horror one of the most effective things is the unstoppable monster, the overpowering force that towers above the victim taking all control out of the situation and bringing death, pain and destruction.  With Second Sight’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre: 4oth Anniversary Restoration on Blu-ray we get to celebrate one of the true legendary monsters, one that is still effective today as it was the first time he lumbered his way through the doorway and onto our screens.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a deceptive film, with an infamous history of being one of the most intense experiences in horror there is a surprising lack of actual gore.  What the film does though is take the audience by the hand, lead them on a somewhat peaceful if eerie walk down a Texas road before bashing their brains in with a barrage of pure horror intensity.

Building the tension up before the big release of violence is a masterstroke by Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel as the audience don’t really know what to expect.  The encounter with the Hitchhiker (Edwin Neal) may put the characters and audience on edge, but that is nothing compared to the sledgehammer like entrance of Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen).  The childlike lumbering beast with a mask of human flesh may be an excellent representation of pure force in human form, but it is interesting that the character is a little deeper than just destruction.  Just looking at the variety of masks he wears shows this.

We can look at a film like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and wonder just why it has stayed so intense after all these years, but the answer is simple…there is no let up to the horror.  When Sally (Marilyn Burns) is searching for a safe haven away from Leatherface, there is none, everywhere she goes is just pure hell.  Not even the old man at the petrol station (Jim Siedow) is the answer, though he offered the helpful warning at the start of the film.  It’s almost horror law that to ignore the warnings to stay away, their doom is sealed.

The Second Sight release of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre: 40th Anniversary Restoration features the new restoration of the movie and it’s never looked so good.  With four included commentaries (two new) including a new one with Tobe Hooper and just about all the special features you are likely to ever need about the movie there is plenty for fans here.  The Texas Chain Saw Massacre may have been remade too many times, but you can’t escape the fact that the original is still the best.  Even with a small budget and its age, time hasn’t taken its toll on the horror, as the fear of being out of our element and off the beaten track of normality always provides a good scare.  This is the movie were we were first introduced to Leatherface and his family and although the sequels, remakes, prequels and sequels to remakes may have weakened the legend of Leatherface some, just watching this version brings back just why the original is so good.

I often think I would like to go back and see this film again totally unprepared.  It is one of those that has a moment that is so shocking on first viewing that you can never replicate it, but it sticks in your memory as the greatest moment of the film.  The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a tour de force of horror intensity and on this 40th anniversary edition we see it in its best quality which looks really amazing and is a very pleasant surprise.  Leatherface is an icon of horror and this is the movie that shows exactly why that is.  Second Sight have shown the film the love and respect it deserves, making this a must buy for horror fans.

***** 5/5

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre: 4oth Anniversary Restoration is available on Blu-ray in the UK now, courtesy of Second Sight.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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