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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) DVD Review

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Matt recently reviewed the original.

I’m sure every single die-hard fan of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre groaned loudly when they heard their 1974 “classic” was about to get the Hollywood treatment. Having not even seen the original, I still groaned. What’s the purpose of remaking it when you could very easily produce another sequel? Well, here it is in 2-disc special edition glory from New Line…..and regardless of your thoughts or feelings, this is a must own set.

Come on, do you really need a sypnosis? It’s a teen-slasher flick. A group of kids (supposedly from 1973) all wearing clothes from the GAP they bought yesterday pick up a hitchiker. After blowing a hole in her head (in the movies only truly gruesome segment), the teens head into town to report the suicide. Well, this is the typical horror movie styled town and the kids get caught up in a sick game of cat and mouse. In this version, they are the mice, the cat weighs 300 pounds, and carries a chainsaw.

This is hardly a great movie. It’s hardly a scary movie. Hell, it’s not even much of a massacre. It’s bland and it doesn’t even try to appease fans of the original. The documentary style feel (the only real saving grace of the original in my opinion) is gone which is enough to bury the entire movie. Anyone who gets scared by anything in this movie has obviously never seen a horror film within the past 20 years. The only saving grace is R. Lee Ermey who adlibs almost his entire role.

Now onto the good stuff. This 2-dsic set (also available as a single disc, standard edition) is unreal. Presented in it’s original ratio of 1:85:1, this movie is gorgeous. Dare I even say it’s one of the best looking DVD’s ever? Yes. This is going up against Pixar’s digital stuff and Star Wars: Episode 2 which was shot entirely with digital cameras. Grain is completely missing, skin tones are miraculous, and the nightime sequences are flawless. This will be a hard disc to top for quite some time.

As if the picture wasn’t good enough, audio fanatics get treated to an obscenely good DTS ES 6.1 track. A 5.1 EX track is also available. The rear speakers get a stunning workout, the LFE channel couldn’t get any deeper, and dialouge is crystal clear. This is by far one of the most immersive tracks I’ve heard this year and will undeniably keep that acclaim until years end.

Of course, there is a reason why 2-discs are inside this case. The features on disc one include 3 seperate commentary tracks, each one focusing on a different aspect of production. Disc two is where the real meat of the set lies. Viewers get treated to a nice selection deleted scenes with commentary as to why they were cut. There’s nothing spectacular here, but the cuts the MPAA forced them to make are weak to say the least. There’s a 20 minute look at Ed Gein, the man who “inspired” the movie. It also looks at other films that follow in the same path including “Psycho.” There’s some screen tests, trailers, art galleries, and a music video as well.

That’s still not it though. The real heart of the disc is the 70+ minute behind the scenes making of feature. Though it does fall pray to the usual “actors kissing up to other actors” formula, it’s an otherwise perfect look at the filming process. What’s amusing is that early on they take cameras to a 30th anniversary showing of the original film. There’s not a single person in that crowd who was looking forward to the remake. At the end of documentary, they grab some random people who had just walked out of the remake and everyone of them praises it. Come on guys, we all know your showing the only 4 people who actually njoyed it. How about a follow up with those who had seen the original? Still, this is a great look at the making of this movie and it’s even presented in widescreen with 5.1 audio. Can’t ask for much more that this.

Or can you? Crammed into the verticaly unfolding case are “crime scene photos.” As cheesy and unidentifiable as they are, their still better than the so called “metal faceplate.” It’s a piece of metal with the DVD cover art on it. That’s it. It’s doesn’t attach to the front or anything. I’m completely baffled by what it is exactly that I’m supposed to do with it.

Regardless of how much you dislike the movie, the filmmakers for “ruining the legend,” or the wooden acting, if your a DVD fan you know you have to have this disc. Not even counting the great special features, this is a set worth owning for it’s picture and sound quality alone. However, if you think that a “metal faceplate” is a mega cool bonus, then mayeb this set isn’t for you.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.