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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Thriller > Slasher > The Texas Chain Saw Massacre – The Ultimate Edition (1974 Original Version Blu-ray/Dark Sky Films)

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre – The Ultimate Edition (1974 Original Version Blu-ray/Dark Sky Films)


Picture: B     Sound: B-     Extras: B+     Film: B



Since Dark Sky released the upgraded DVD Ultimate Edition set of the original 1974 Texas Chain Saw Massacre, the wave of tired, dumb imitators has given way to the “torture porn” of franchises like Saw, Hostel and its many imitators, showing the real pointlessness of the many imitators to begin with.  We first looked at the film way back when the old Pioneer/Geneon edition (out of print and from a company that has now gone out of business) arrived in new packaging:





Then we later looked at the Dark Sky DVD set:





Now comes the Blu-ray edition and its release marks the first-ever all 16mm film shoot of a feature film to hit a High Definition format.  Instead of being shot in negative film, the 16mm here used was a reversal stock, meaning you only get back one print of everything you shot versus a negative and a print from it.  Eastman Kodak’s ECO reversal stock (#7252) was hard to expose and the initial print that came back did not look good and was easy to scratch, but it did produce very good looking duplicate prints, including the kinds that were blown up to 35mm like copies I have seen.


Shown here in 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition, all previous DVD editions are rendered poorer, as this version has surprisingly good color, good depth for 16mm of the time and a more solid presentation with relatively more detail than the DVD versions.  Color is better than just about any version of the film you have likely seen and does not have some of the fading issues we have seen before.  The only problem is that in some dark scenes, as in the first Leatherface attack (with a meat tenderizer to the head?) you cannot see that as clearly as you should for the impact to register, but those are minor problems and outdone by the improvements.


The new sound option here is a DTS 5.1 mix that is better than the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, which is likely the same soundmaster, but is slightly clearer.  The old Pioneer DVD had a Hooper-approved Dolby Pro Logic mix from the PCM 2.0 on the LaserDisc to the PCM 2.0 on the DVD; this Blu-ray repeats the new edition’s PCM 2.0 Mono and PCM 2.0 Mono, the latter of which is the option for purists.  I liked the DTS myself.


Extras are the same as the Dark Sky DVD set, but the Blu-ray adds the featurette “Off The Hook” with Teri McMinn, while the other extras include a new audio commentary by actors Marilyn Burns, Paul A. Partain, Allen Danziger, and art designer Robert A. Burns, the vintage commentary by director Tobe Hooper, cinematographer Daniel Pearl, and actor Gunnar Hansen, trailers, TV and radio spots, 73 minute documentary "Texas Chain Saw Massacre: The Shocking Truth", 74 minute documentary "Flesh Wounds", Tour of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre house before and after remodeling, conduced by Gunnar Hansen, deleted scenes and outtakes, blooper reel, outtakes from "The Shocking Truth" and a few still galleries including posters, ads, and collectibles.  Carried over from the older edition, the blooper reel is amusing, deleted scenes worth checking out (though none of them feel like they should have remained, they are worth catching), and the alternate footage includes all the footage shot for the brief, still chilling enough first abduction by Leatherface.  The trailer for the unnecessary sequel was dropped and these documentaries are mostly new.


So this did not turn out to be the mess Anchor Bay delivered with their Halloween Blu-ray and is such a surprise in playback that this Dark Sky edition of Texas Chain Saw Massacre is instantly one of the best back catalog titles in the new HD format.  That also makes it one of the first serious independent film releases on Blu-ray and one done well, so much so that it will give this classic new respect.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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