243 of 264 people found the following review helpful
on May 10, 2001
First, the movie. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is probably one of the scariest movies ever made. It was unique for its time, and there's still nothing quite like it today. The plot doesn't sound like much- 2 women and 3 men make a drive to rural Texas to check out a graveyard that has been 'defiled', and to also relax and enjoy themselves. This last part of their vacation plan doesn't go real smoothly, as they make the mistake of wandering into an area where an insane, backwoods, inbred, cannibalistic sociopathic family live. Things get more and more horrifying from there.
I've heard people complain this movie isn't scary and not gory enough. As far as the gore, it is fairly low-key by today's standards (though I'm sure my mother wouldn't want to watch it, and it couldn't be shown un-cut on regular network TV). There's not a lot of blood till the end of the movie, but the acting is so good, and the screams of the victims so wrenching, your imagination fills in the rest and it actually is painful to watch. I will agree that the movie is kind of slow to get started- I admit the first time I saw it as a teenager I was getting impatient for some action. However, the last half of the movie more than makes up for it.
But if you think this movie isn't scary, I seriously doubt you've watched alone, at home, at night, with all the lights off. The first time I saw it was in the daytime, and it still made my hair stand on end. When I got the Special Edition DVD I unwisely watched it after midnight with the lights off. I couldn't sleep until the sun came up. The opening scene of the rotting corpse in the cemetery wired to a headstone alone made my skin crawl. The scene where Pam first discovers Leatherface's room, with the furniture made of bones and the chickens in bird-cages, gets scarier each time I see it. The last 20 minutes, at the dinner table, has to be one of the most grueling and realistic scenes to sit through ever made. The final few images--well, over 10 years went by between the last time I saw the movie and the time I watched it on DVD a few weeks ago, and I *still* could remember those shots so vividly it was like I saw it yesterday.
The DVD is incredible-the transfer is so crisp that it seems like the movie was filmed last year instead of in the early 70's. Since I'd only seen it on "pan & scan" VHS, I never really appreciated how beautiful some shots of the rural setting are, and also how well-thought out and carefully put together most of the cinematography is. Breathtaking, actually. Until the commentary pointed it out, I never realized how perfect and effective the long, continuous shot of Pam hesitantly getting up off the porch swing and slowly walking to the screen door is. This movie does not look at all amateurish, even though it was made on an extremely low budget.
The DVD is packed with cool and interesting special features. First, the commentary by Tobe Hooper, Gunnar Hansen aka Leatherface, and director of photography Daniel Pearl is fascinating. There's lots of subtle but powerful elements in the movie I missed till now-for instance, the lack of almost any score or soundtrack that gives it a documentary feel, making it that much more disturbing. Hardcore fans of this movie know already this was NOT an easy shoot by any standards, but their accounts of how much energy and work it took to get certain things right, not to mention the really tortuous things many of the actors went through...well, if any actor deserves to be paid millions for a movie, this cast certainly earned it. The dinner scene was the most horrendous- they could only do one take, it went on for 20+ hours, and this was in 110 degree heat with no air conditioning. Gunnar Hansen said that by the end, he was so out of it he started to think he wasn't acting. Kind of gives the tag line "Who will survive and what will be left of them?" a whole new meaning.
There's also some deleted and alternate scenes, including some "lost footage" never available before. With many of them, you can read the script excerpt of the scene first. There's a hilarious blooper reel-the quality isn't that great, but you'll laugh your butt off. There's lots of production notes and stills, along with shots of rare publicity material. A couple scenes are broken down shot by shot, with Hooper explaining why he made the directing and editing choices he did. There's even more, I just don't have room for it all. The menu is also pretty great. I highly recommend the Special Edition to anyone who is a fan of TCM. You'll be able to spend hours enjoying it, and they couldn't have done a better job. My recommendation (for what it's worth) is to get this one fast, because it would be a shame if it went out of print and so many people missed this wonderful collector's edition.
43 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2000
As a massive horror fan from the UK (where this film is banned) I had to wait many years to see this film, and after all the hype and expectations which I had built up I was half expecting to be dissapointed when i finally watched it...how wrong could I be? This film had me gripped instantly. The film builds up suspense like no other and when the murders do actually happen they are not ruined, like many other horrors, by almost comical deaths, they are nasty! This film is gritty and raw, with documentary like visuals which only add further to the sense of fear which you can almost smell. The acting is brilliant, its laid back yet energetic at the same time. Never have I seen fear portrayed as realistically as Marilyn Burns haunting display in this movie (but then again I never looked at myself in the mirror while watching the film). All of the factors in this film mix to make an evil couldron of depravity, that'll make you too afraid to look but even more scared when you close your eyes. This film is the freakiest i've ever seen and to say i enjoyed it seems kind'a sick as the killings are so realistic and depraved, but there's no denying it, I loved it.
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
When I saw that a 40th Anniv. Edition of this classic film was coming out, I actually held out for awhile. I owned the previous Ultimate Edition of TCSM, and there seemed to be only a few extra features planned for the new release. After Amazon dropped the price to $19, I thought "What the hay. Go ahead and order it." When it came in, there was one thing that I did NOT like about it. It was the size of a DVD case, which means it really stands out when on the shelf with other Blu Rays. But that is just a minor quibble. I watched the movie, and thought, "You know, this picture doesn't really look that much better than the other release." Immediately after viewing the new 40th anniv. edition of the film, I decided to pop in the Ultimate Edition Blu Ray and compare picture to picture. As soon as the first title appears, I knew then that there DEFINITELY was an upgrade made to this film. Those very first titles look more cream colored on the previous blu ray, while they were clearly yellow on the new one. I also went back and forth on a few scenes, and there really is a difference between this new blu ray and the previous one. Once scene where the difference is very noticeable is when the first victim is looking through the screen door to see if anyone is home. In the new version, you can clearly see the individual squares of the screen, and the brown rust and dirt on it. In the Ultimate Edition, that clarity is really lacking. You don't see the details, and the color is really washed out. So, even though this new scan might appear to still be very "grainy", if you compare side by side with the Ultimate Edition, you will be able to see the difference as I did. Not only do you get a much better picture, there is also a 7;1 surround track, more commentaries, and a few more extra features. One of those is the Hallowed Ground feature that has appeared on many horror titles lately. My bottom line is, don't sit on the fence anymore if you're thinking like I did that this doesn't seem to be that much of an upgrade. Believe me, it really is. If you're a fan of the film, as I am, you owe it to yourself to grab this new version of this classic horror title while the price is still low. Otherwise, grandpa may hit you with a hammer............
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2015
DarkSky Films releasing has really outdone themselves with the deluxe treatment of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre". There are a wealth of extras included here, so many that it is difficult to get through them all in any reasonable amount of time (but I'm grateful for this copious surplus, as I imagine other horror fans are). One gets 4 items included in this package, two Blu-Rays and two DVDs, each transferring the same content, so that one can watch on either a DVD player or on the Blu-Ray. The package/box is also quite neat, with the bloodied face of a traumatized Marilyn Burns adorning one flap, a picture of the Leatherface house implanted upon the other--it's a foldout, so if you are one who wishes to keep digital discs in snapper cases, this box most likely won't please you. Nonetheless, this is THE essential collector's set for anyone who wants to own this piece of film history. The original disc has four--read that, FOUR--separate audio commentary tracks which are detailed in the listing of extras on Amazon, and they range from informative to joyous to fecund--chief amongst the latter is Hooper's solo commentary, in which he guides a viewer (in his languid but not unpleasing tones) through the making of the film and the ideas that may have unconsciously inspired this masterpiece. The cast commentary is great fun, and the chief one worth listening to. The audio commentary track featuring editor Larry Carroll is required listening for anyone interested in learning how the frame by frame technique of film presentation actually works (let's face it folks, if anyone wishes to learn about filmmaking, where it's at is in B-film and budget movies, not the Hollywood darlings). The extra featuring an interview with actor John Dugan is saucy and hilarious--he eventually breaks down in tears while discussing the work of Marilyn Burns in the film (she is a performer with great endurance, but to me she lacks the unbearably hot sex appeal of her co-star Teri McMinn, and as such is forced to play the more conservative role of the two victims--and the lucky one, to boot). The documentary extra runs through the entire making of the film (I found Tobe discussing the making of the music/sound score to be most interesting in a way), and the evolving story of what happened between the eventual release and distribution of this film after it was made and then later sold again (Vortex was the initial company title, and then Bryanston pictures took on the role of distribution to theaters) is an essential piece of viewing material for any and all serious-minded film historians. As one person says in the documentary feature (on Larry Carroll, I believe), "the massacre was that no one got paid." "...Chainsaw" has one of the most interesting production and distribution release stories in the history of the medium, and if you are into methods as to how to release your film, this is another essential item on the list of educational checkpoints for learning how this system (or non-system!) actually works. However, every extra offered on this newer release is worth viewing if you are a fan of the film, and there are so many on offer that it renders a detailed examination of each extra redundant...but if you are interested, you'll watch them all.
"The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" is a tremendously exciting picture if you are a historian or someone who is interested in watching a real horror film for a change--to some, including older viewers, the main characters may be too annoying and too far out for their taste, but this is one that you have to let incubate inside your head before you can really feel its impact (and once you let your imagination work around it, it might just be the most frightening movie you've ever watched; if not, it may take bucket-loads of blood and effects to shock you). In any case, Hooper and his team created something new with the movie in that they decided to take a documentary approach to the horror genre, and move the theory of horror filmmaking further away from the supernatural than ever before (even Bloch's "Psycho" had references to the occult and to the mystical). A truly quotable movie, Hooper's film actually makes humor work in a much different way; if you are expecting a fast-paced film with a lot of gore, you've come to the wrong place, but that doesn't mean that the film's power to shock and terrify is any less valid nowadays (Hooper apparently was making a comment about animal rights, and that alone is intriguing to think about). Trying watching this by yourself late at night in an empty house, with the volume cranked, and it will still be quite strong as a movie experience. The cast is also quite strong, and this is the one film in which atmosphere and sound is used to build up the viewer's imagination so that so much blood and on-screen violence are rendered completely unnecessary.
Initially shot on a low-lighted Éclair NPR 16 mm camera, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" was then enlarged to a 35 mm print when it was later distributed in grindhouse cinemas, thus distorting the framing of the amazingly detailed sets on display. The new DarkSky transfer goes a long way towards repairing this cinematic treasure and giving us a clean new 4K scan that actually looks like a great, widescreen layout, the aspect ratio reading 1.77:1, which is an unusual frame to look at (considering how most of us are used to 1.33:1 or 2.35:1 framing on home media format) but is nonetheless impressive on a smaller TV screen (in which the black bars will appear normally). For Widescreen TVs, I think that the picture is a bit more grainy, but this is an older, drive-in era classic, so what do you really want it to look like? Besides, this is undoubtedly the finest that the film has ever looked on a home video format. The young may deem it boring, the old may not be shocked by it anymore. But the kind of handmade, low-budget feel that early Hooper pictures had is cinematically unique, with echoes of true insanity operating both behind and in front of the camera that will probably never be repeated in this fashion ever again. If you want to watch a real thriller movie, begin here. But enter in with a sense of humor too. A+
22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on October 9, 2004
First things first: this is not a true story. There was no cannibalistic serial-killer family in the 1970's Texas, this movie was loosely based on the exploits of Wisconsin murderer Ed Gein and the rest is fantasy.
However, what this is is one of the most horrific movies ever made, incredibly visceral and violent even though very little blood is used. The villains range from demented to sadistic, the heroes from sympathetic to annoying. The movie's cheif fault is that its teenagers are, for the most part, very poorly developed. We only get to know two of them, so when they wander into the clutches of Leatherface it's less painful for the audience, if incredibly painful for the characters.
However, the movie excels in so many aspects that this minor point is quickly overlooked. The hot, humid texas atmosphere is perfectly filmed, adding a layer of foreboding to the already tense atmosphere. The killings are done in a variety of ways without being far-fetched and ridiculous (interestingly, only one is killed with a chainsaw) and the acting credible, especially Gunnar Hanson as Leatherface.
The Best horror movie of the 1970's, and one of the greatest of all time. 9/10
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 2000
The DVD edition of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" is simply essential for all TCM fans. For a movie that's achieved almost mythical status among its devotees, the unearthing of unknown and unseen gems from the making of TCM is a treasure trove. On the DVD, you get outtakes and bloopers, trailers and TV ads for the original movie and its inferior sequels, scores of publicity stills, and an alternate audio track featuring Tobe Hooper, Gunnar Hansen and cinematographer Daniel Pearl giving a running commentary of the film as it plays. Their comments lend much insight into how TCM was made, the impact of the film, and updates about what happened to various cast members. The film itself has been restored to a vibrantly colorful print, and the viewer has the option of watching the film in stereo or in its original mono mix. If only every DVD could be this lavishly issued... If you haven't seen the film yet, you must know that this is a landmark horror/suspense film. Far from the river of blood its title suggests, there's relatively little killing in the movie; its strengths lie in a palpable atmosphere of Texas heat and dread; black as oil humor, and heart-in-your-throat suspense. Its reputation as a sick, gory slashfest comes mainly from its myriad inferior imitators. Check out the DVD and make your own judgment.
28 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 2004
Terror and carnage is the outcome for a group of unsuspecting teens in the classic horror movie that shocked audiences all over the country, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." A film that still has the raw power to shock and terrify viewers even today. While it may not be overly gory, the end results leads to a horrifying and disturbing motion picture that is unforgettable. It all starts out as a simple country road trip that sounds like the perfect way to spend some time for a group of five friends. It seems to be a regular afternoon until they drive into a deserted part of Texas. A strange hitchhiker unleashes an unimaginable chain-of-events that lead to murder, cannibalism and psychotic killers.
I don't care how old this movie is, I still always find myself numb with shock and disbelief every time I watch this brutal classic. It shows you that you don't need a lot of blood and gore to be disturbing or uneasy. The way the film is shot leads you to believe that this stuff actually happened. It's as if you're actually watching real killings caught on camera. That's how powerful this movie is. There are definitely more than a few uneasy moments that make me squirm and cringe, and that is becoming quite the challenge these days, I must be honest.
Sure, it might be a tad dated. However, this does not take away any of the film's power. Inspired by a true story (loosely based on the infamous killer, Ed Gein), this movie has a great script and a nice cast behind it. It never feels overly goofy, nor does it ever feel that it is dragging on too long. Tobe Hooper did an excellent job with such a low budget. To be honest, I think the low budget helped. This would not be the same movie had there been a bigger budget to jazz it all up. The low budget forced Hooper to find a successful way to shoot the movie, and he did. The balance of everything is just right.
I didn't buy the new edition that came out a few months ago, as it appeared that it was no different from the version I'm reviewing right now. The DVD has a fair amount of interesting extras. The picture and sound quality is as good as it can get. I'm sure it beats any old VHS copy out there. Extras included are deleted/alternate scenes, the original mono soundtrack for true die-hard fans, commentary, still photos, blooper reel, original trailers and TV spots, and more. A nice package that does a horror classic the justice that it deserves.
"The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" will always be remembered as an ultimate classic that redefined the horror genera as we know it. It is not for people with weak hearts or people who get easily sickened by senseless acts of brutal violence. Even after all of these years, this film has the undeniable power to shock and terrify audiences all around. If you have not seen it yet, go check it out as soon as you can. A landmark horror movie that always delivers, time and time again. -Michael Crane
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2000
Before horror filmmakers felt the need to poke fun atthemselves and highlight beautiful young stars rather than actualterror, this film does what horror films have long since forgotten how to do: scare the living hell out of you. Before there was a Blair Witch Project, there was a Texas Chainsaw Massacre. And similarities between the two are fairly numerous: the documentary style (although Witch went a lot further with this concept), the shunning of explicit gore in order to overdrive the imagination, and so forth. One of the things I particularly like about this film is that it's almost two movies in one. The first half focuses on the victims, which is something this film's sequels forgot to do. If you want to effectively scare people, you have to allow them to muster sympathy for those about to die.him die.)But once Leatherface comes roaring out of the woods with his weapon of choice (actually, despite the title only one person in this film is killed by a chainsaw) the film takes a sharp turn and drags us kicking and screaming into the world of the villains. This is where the film's strength lies: in the fact that the family isn't actually all together until the last twenty minutes or so. Therefore we haven't been given ample time to identify with them or laugh at them, and so we are just as mortified at the dinner scene as poor Sally Hardesty. Truly one of the greatest horror films ever created. However as far as the sequels go, here's a brief rundown: TCM2 is worthwhile for two reasons only; Tom Savini's gut-wrenching effects and the almost-unbearably over the top performance of Dennis Hopper ("TEAR IT ALL DOWN! "). If you can find an uncut version of TCM3 I'd say give it a shot. Otherwise don't bother (unless you'd like to see an early performance from Psycho's Viggo Mortensen). And I urge everyone on the planet to avoid Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation at all costs. There is nothing even remotely worthwhile about this film and will leave you nauseous for the rest of your life.
17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on August 18, 2000
I bought this one on strength of reputation, which i don't normally do. But having seen such other notorious horror flicks as Evil Dead, Exorcist, Blair Witch, Last House On The Left etc...I figured i was obligated to check it out.
Actually it has a lot in common with all the above mentioned flicks. Blair Witch because of the 'apparent' realism and the way it forces you to use your imagination, Exorcist because of the creepy use of sound, Evil Dead for the mad camera work and Last House On The Left for sheer brutality. And thats what the film is - Brutal. The teen friendly flicks of today cannot compare to this. This one is downright NASTY.
It makes every effort to hurt the audience. There is no 'guess who is the killer' element here, no cheesy orchestral stingers, no irony, no subtlty, no reason in the film at all. It's basically just half an hours set up then the rest of the movie is people getting killed. No real plot or explanation just death, just the way one likes it.
It's twistedly funny and not in the 'Scream' way. I mean REALLY twistedly funny. These elements combine to make TCM one of the best of them 70's flicks I reckon. Not as painful as Last House On The Left mind (but then what is ?), nevertheless I felt hurt after watching it. Thats something few horror flicks do to me (refer to pre mentioned list again !).
The DVD comes with more extras than you would believe and the picture quality ain't bad. Wish they'd left the grain in tho...Still it's well worth getting on this superior format and is a killer film in it's own right.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 14, 2005
What can I say about the Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Brilliance or disgusting? Artwork or filth? All of the above! This film is a sadistic, ingenius, puke wrenching, work of art that DaVinci's Mona Lisa could envy! I love the '70s-to today's horror films. I usually only enjoy the gorey films but active imaginations and this film will fuse nightmares for weeks. The scene in this film that makes me sick is the piece where Franklin(The handicapped guy) and the hitchhiker are talking about headcheese. The piece I find cool and interesting? After the big chase scene where Franklin is butchered (I'm mentioning this for the purpose of explaining what I will soon describe) and Sally is chased by Leatherface. She passes out at a point and when she wakes up tied to a chair at the dinner table with the Sawyers (The name of the family of killers). If you look you'll see hands on the arm rest of the chair. She is sitting on the remains of her "invalid brother". Gorgeouse. Then the rest of the film (pieces including putting a hammer in Grandpa's hands and attempting to help him kill his last victim and after Sally gets in the back of a pick-up truck, the mental rage that Leatherface has spinning that chainsaw around after he lost his victim and his brother, the hitcher, is killed by a truck is beautiful.