The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) DVD Review

The Texas Chainsaw Masacre is one of those movies you probably grew up hearing about. Too young to view it, you'd proudly proclaim to friends that you had seen it and make up all kinds of little white lies. Eventually, you'd finally have the pleasure of viewing Tobe Hoopers horror flick. Well, that time never actually came for me.....at least up until this week anyway. Thanks to the big budget theatrical remake, we get a DVD release to coincide and take advantage of the name. The story revolves around the usual group of teenagers, brought together due to a string of grave robbings. They decide to head out to a small Texas town and make sure a recently deceased member is still where they should be. What follows is a supposed retelling of semi-serial killer Ed Gein's story. Though loosely grounded in facts, the story is hardly true. It's a slasher flick that would set the ground rules for all those to follow and use the killers name to raw some more interest. Now, I'm well aware this movie was shot dirt cheap, somewhere in the $150,000 range. I'm well aware that this was pretty much the "first." I'm also well aware that countless other movies would go on to blatantly copy this one. Simply put, I don't care. It's terrible. It's poorly paced, the kid in the wheel chair couldn't be more annoying, that freakin' girl won't stop screaming, and the killings are the furthest thing from gruesome I've ever seen. The only pluses are the semi-documentary like film style and the dinner sequence near the finale. It's hardly been worth a 23 year wait for me. This DVD release doesn't help any either. The video is presented in a supposedly (and I quote) "painstakingly restored widescreen print." If this has been restored at all, it's a small miracle. Colors bleed, nightime sequences can hardly be made out, and grain dominates the print. The sound suffers a fate along the same lines. The new surround mix is hardly immersive as the packaging states. The rear speakers are used all of 5 times throughout the entire running time. The only other option is the original mono track. Extras seem promising enough. Deleted scenes, outtakes, trailers, still photo's, and a commentary track. Well the deleted sequences and outtakes not only feature zero audio, but are in such bad shape you can't make out what's going on. The photos are fine and feature various posters and still shots. Same goes for the trailers. The commentary has Tobe Hooper, the director of photography, and Leatherface himself, Gunner Hansen. I fully apologize to those who have firm memories of enjoying this film. This is just not a good movie. Other directors and filmakers have done so much better over the years, this one just gets buried. Note that I love low budget stuff and alot of my collection is nothing but B-movies. This one simply doesn't belong.

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