Blu-ray Review: THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE 40th Anniversary Restoration{0}

The Greatest Horror Movie of All Time?

Your mileage, of course, may vary. Whether you’re more of a fan of The Exorcist or a Halloween lover, there’s no denying the impact Tobe Hooper’s backwoods slasher classic The Texas Chain Saw Massacre has had on the horror scene since its 1974 release. We all know the story, of course: packing into their camper van, a gang of young hippies head out to an old house in the country. There they encounter a family of bloodthirsty cannibals – most notably the obese, shrieking ‘Leatherface’ and his trusty chainsaw. What ensues could easily, if arguably, be described as the greatest horror movie of all time.

Texas 40th steelbook

Again, your mileage may vary. Forty years after its initial release, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre holds up remarkably well. The characters are well-drawn and compelling (even the awful Franklin), the horror visceral and brutal. The late Marilyn Burns does a fantastic job as Sally Hardesty, putting up with an admirable level of abuse (both in the story and in reality, as the special features’ tales from the notoriously difficult shoot will attest). And so a pair horror icons were born: Leatherface the chainsaw wielding lunatic, and Sally, the quintessential ‘final girl’.

The film receives a nifty 4k HD upgrade in honour of its 40th birthday, overseen by Hooper himself. There’s nothing revelatory here (anything too clean and shiny just wouldn’t feel right for The Texas Chain Saw Massacre), but that extra layer of sharpness is appreciated, the colours pop vividly, the restored audio track screeches and grinds beautifully. The film has never looked or sounded better.

The Blu-ray release comes accompanied by a second disc chock full of extras, including a brand new audio commentary by Hooper himself, and a second with the movie’s cinematographer, sound recordist and editor. The latter appears again in the featurette Cutting Chain Saw, while actor John Dugan pops up in Grandpa’s Tales. A newly unearthed selection of  deleted scenes and outtakes are also included. The Blu-ray also revives a number of features from past releases, including the documentary The Shocking Truth, cast and crew interviews, and additional audio commentaries – a solid set of special features, both new and old. If it feels a little lacking in places, that’s because us horror fans have been spoiled of late, by the likes of Arrow Video and their definitive re-releases and box sets (I’m looking at you, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 – not to mention Second Sight’s own From Beyond). There have been so many ‘special’ re-releases of this film over the years that the 40th Anniversary Restoration sometimes struggles to stand out from the rest.

That beautiful steelbook cover certainly helps, though.


Joel Harley (@JoelHarley)

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre 40th Anniversary Blu-ray Steelbook edition is released on 17 November, and available to pre-order now

It could have all been so different...

The next reboot will probably be PG-13