The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 40th Anniversary Edition review: Still a cut above the rest

Posted on 19 November 2014
By George Heron
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Second Sight Films celebrates the 40th birthday of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre with a masterful restoration.

The film commences with a Star-Wars style autocue reel setting the scene for what is about to happen. A chilling narration from John Larroquette puts you in the right frame of mind from the off.

There is no let up of the eeriness as distorted images fill the screen with surreal music that will further bewilder you. We are then transported to Texas in good ol’ USA. A green van containing five teenagers is pulled over on the interstate so one of them can do their ablutions.

They are going to visit Sally’s grandparents old home on a little holiday trip. A deranged hitch-hiker who they pick up on their travels, slashes the arm of their wheelchair-bound friend, Franklin.

It’s only the start of the macabre occurrings.

What follows is a truly chilling horror film that is still creepy to this very day. It holds up extremely well 40 years later. The setups and pay-offs are perfectly timed. Gorehounds may be underwhelmed but each killing has maximum shock impact and the tension doesn’t let up in the lean but svelte 83-minute duration. You don’t need blood and guts with a film of this quality.

Another mechanic used to induce fear is something as simple as the setting of the sun. As the sun is going down, the hue of the whole film darkens giving an indication of the horrors to follow. Hope follows the sun into oblivion.

One aspect of the film which continues to be a problem is the stereotype that all girls being pursued by a murderer must scream ad infinitum. Of course, with this being a film, their vocal chords never break. They just scream and scream and scream. Wes Craven made a whole franchise out of the stereotype of course (forgotten what he called it :P), but such a gripe is the only thing that betrays the antiquity of the material.

No black borders with this Blu-Ray transfer. The picture has such clarity that you would think it a much more recent film. Special features are plentiful, with the obligatory directors commentaries and documentaries devoted to both cast and crew including even the editor, who was clearly on top of his game when stitching the horrors together for this ‘un.

Horror or film aficionados in general would do well to purchase this definitive edition of a cutting edge tale in the Deep South.