‘Who will survive and what will be left of them?’ – was the tagline on the hauntingly intense poster to the macabre classic, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. This year, Toby Hooper’s breakthrough follow up to his virtually unseen ’69 debut, Eggshells, celebrates its fortieth anniversary as well as retaining its thrones as one of (if not) the horror films that defined 70’s horror cinema. This tagline only seems apt after all the years as the growing popularity and string of sequels, prequels, and remakes.
It’s unquestionable that Leatherface has stood the test of time amongst die-hards of the genre and it’s about time these fans got the full picture of their favourite chain saw wielding cannibal. Toby Hooper has even tipped his hat to this 4K restoration (and 7.1 audio mix) by Second Sight by supervising the whole project, stating; “This 40th Anniversary restoration is absolutely the best the film has ever looked.” Through the grain speckled, murky presentation we’ve seen when viewed on grimy VHS tapes; this new presentation appears to be the definitive package for any horror-aficionados.
Opening with the creaky, spine tingling sounds and snap shot images of decomposing bodies in the hot Texan sun; we’re dragged kicking and screaming (in the way a terrifically spellbinding horror classic can) back into the eerie world where road kill armadillos are only the tip of the iceberg of the acts committed against animals by mankind. As the group of youths continue down the highway past reeking slaughterhouses it becomes clear they’re following a path similar to that which the livestock live.
Through the gloom of southern America and scratchy cine-grain, this restoration has really converted the glum look of the film into something stunning. The Blu-ray presentation looks so clear in fact, that one can truly appreciate Hooper’s second feature for all its indie-wizardry. The longer we travel down the Texan highway into the mouth of madness and the more grotesque imagery seen, the film actually looks somewhat strangely beautiful due to the restoration, highlighting Hooper’s pro-vegan messages.
Over its forty years of grossing out audiences, surviving numerous cuts, croppings, and outright bans from the likes of the BBFC during the Video Nasty era; the visual aesthetic of the Texas Chain Saw Massacre has become so iconic through its hand stitched look, which some might worry about being undermined by a 4K restoration. But let me assure you, that whilst the clarity of the film is stunning, it still can’t shake off its grainy appearance.
If you’ve seen this film already, it’s worth another poke, but if you are fresh faced in the world of horror – only being drip fed Leatherface through the Michael Bay umbrella of schlocky horror remakes/redos – then the cannibalistic, cross dressing, maniac has never looked this pretty.
It isn’t only the tender loving care restoration that distributors Second Sight have thrown into the mix (the cover of which evokes the iconic finale to the film, but also includes a reversible cover of the original American poster) as the two disc steel book comes with a whole host of terrific extras for any horror hounds to sink their teeth into.
It’s almost overwhelming the amount of content that comes in this package, really making it the definitive Texas Chain Saw Massacre experience. From numerous audio commentaries with Hooper and Leatherface himself, Gunnar Hansen, as well as separate audio tracks with Marilyn Burns (the actress that played Sally and who carved out the ‘final girl’ archetype) amongst other cast members and crew. There really is a ton of reasons to go back again and again to the film.
Not a fan of audio commentary tracks? Oh well, you still won’t be left out. There is a wide range of added extras from tours of the original hour, interviews with cast and crew alike, unseen deleted scenes/outtakes, trailers, TV spots, documentaries associated to the production and release, and even more than I could list. A lot of new and unseen content has been added into the mix to let you feel as if you’ve got your money’s worth.
Save your pennies from the humdrum of modern horror fair and invest in something substantial, such as this. Seriously, this is by far the definitive version of the chilling tale of several youths on a road trip to hell.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre – 40th Anniversary Restoration is out on Blu-Ray now.