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Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The: (Ultimate Edition) 
Written by: on July 30th, 2006

Theatrical Release Dates: USA, 1974
Director: Tobe Hooper
Cast: Marilyn Burns, Paul A. Partain, Edwin Neal, Jim Siedow, Gunnar Hansen

DVD released: September 26th, 2006
Approximate running time: 83 mins
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: R
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital Stereo
DVD Release: Dark Sky Films
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $29.98

A group of teenagers enroute to visit one of their friends grandfathers grave. They soon run out of gas and are unable to get any tell the station opens in the morning. One of boys decides to go looking for some gas and what he finds is the home of leather face. One by one they start to disappear as they try to find out where their missing friends went.

Tobe Hopper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one of the most frightening movies ever made. Its power to send chills down your spine is even more impressive when one considers that most of the violence is implied or off screen. Hopper with Texas Chainsaw Massacre uses the more is less technique that had been so masterfully executed in Alfred Hitchcock film Psycho. The plot for Texas Chainsaw Massacre is overlooked by many as being simple when upon closer inspection one can clearly see the deeper subtext that Hooper cleverly injects in a subtle way.

Tobe Hooper’s direction is nothing short of masterful as he sets up many classic horror set pieces that over the years have since been borrowed by countless filmmakers. The acting while not the films strongest asset it is more then adequate with a tour de force performance from Gunnar Hanson as Leather Face. Hanson perfectly captures the primal and child-like facets of the cold blooded killer known as Leather Face. When talking the lasting impact of Texas Chainsaw Massacre one must never overlook in invaluable contribution of Cinematographer Daniel Pearl whose combination of shadow and light vividly set the nihilistic mood of the film.

The DVD:

Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre gets another DVD release and this time around it is labeled as the Ultimate Edition. The transfer for this release is taken from a high definition source that was painstakingly restored and cleaned by Don May of Synapse films. The film is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original aspect ratio. Overall this is the best looking 16mm restoration that I have ever seen.

This release comes with three audio options Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital stereo and the films original mono mix for purists. All three audio mixes are in English. All three audio tracks are free of any hiss, distortion or any other sound defects. Dialog is easy enough to understand and follow. The music and effects blend seamlessly with the rest of the mix. Removable English and Spanish subtitles have been included.

The extras for this release are spread over two DVD’s.

The first disc includes the following extras two trailers, three T.V. spots and two radio spots for Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Other extras include trailers for Eaten Alive, The Manson Family, Henry Portrait of a Serial killer and Henry 2 Portrait of a Serial killer. All of these titles are currently available or soon to be released on DVD from Dark Sky Films. Rounding out the extras for disc one are two audio commentaries. The first audio commentary is with Marilyn Burns, Paul A. Partain, Allen Danziger and Robert A. Burns. This audio commentary while not as interesting the second audio commentary included with this release does provide many great stories about the making of this film. The second audio commentary is with Gunnar Hansen, Daniel Pearl and Tobe Hooper. This audio commentary is one of best I have ever heard as all three men fill every moment with insightful comments that add deeper meaning to the film. This audio commentary track was ported over from Elite’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre DVD.

The second disc includes the following extras an extensive still gallery, a blooper reel, a tour of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre house with Gunner Hansen, Dr. W.E. Barnes presents “Making Grandpa” this extra is a still galley that shows the progression of the make up as it is put on, outtakes from the “Shocking Truth” and about twenty six minutes of deleted scenes & outtakes. Other extras include David Gregory’s excellent feature length documentary about the film titled “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Shocking Truth”. This seventy three minute documentary includes interviews with most of the cast and crew. All the participants talk vividly about working on the film and how they feel about it nearly thirty years later. Other topics include its influence on the horror films that followed it. Rounding out the extras is a brand new documentary titled “Flesh Wounds: 7 Stories of the Saw” which runs about seventy two minutes in length. This documentary includes interviews with Daniel Pearl, Tim Harden, Gunner Hansen, Tobe Hooper, Tom Sullivan, Mike Wyatt and tributes for Paul Partine, Robert Burns, and Jim Siedow. One would have thought that most ground should have already been covered with the wealth of extras included for this release and even though “Flesh Wounds: 7 Stories of the Saw” offers very little that isn’t already know. It is a more sober affair where all the participants talk about what they have been doing since making the film and how they feel about the film all these years later. One minor quip about this documentary is that in between each segment the music interludes felt unnecessarily stretched out.

Many DVD release claim to be definitive or ultimate editions only to fall short every time. Dark Sky Films Texas Chainsaw Massacre release lives up to the ultimate edition title it bears as this is truly one of the most comprehensive DVD’s ever released, highly recommended.

For more information about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and other titles released by Dark Sky Films visit their website.

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