The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
|Year Of Production||2003|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Marcus Nispel|
Roadshow Home Entertainment
R. Lee Ermey
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||Yes, mild drug use|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The original, Tobe Hooper incarnation of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was, at the time of its release (around 1974 - yes thirty, count 'em, thirty years ago) an unbelievably scary film. It formed the very nucleus of the slasher genre and was commonly regarded as the scariest film ever created. I was raised in the good ole' U of K, and it was actually subject to a ban in those days - deemed just too d*** scary for the stiff-upper-lipped , tea quaffing public of Blighty. There are no really specific reasons for its (apparently two decades long) ban...it was just considered too "disturbing" to be seen by the plebs I guess. I first watched it in abject terror, and its impact was forever etched in my subconscious. The last time I watched the movie was around a year ago - safe in the confines of my home theatre in Victoria. Amazingly, I found it was not at all gory and nowhere near as scary as I remembered it to be. So, imagine if someone was to make a modernised, updated version of this classic tale, replete with the gore and sophisticated budget that its predecessor lacked...would it be any good? Would it scare me once again?
You bet your blood-soaked a*** it would!
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in its 2003 incarnation is a really scary horror flick. For those of you who are unaware of the basic premise of the film, here's a brief plot synopsis. Five teenagers, travelling back from a dope-smuggling mission in Mexico, stumble across a distressed female walking mindlessly along a country road. After stopping to pick her up, it is highly evident all is not well in this young woman's world. Shortly after telling the teens that they are all about to die, she pops a handgun out of her crotch and into her mouth. Dazed by the girl's violent suicide, the group decide that they have to notify the local police. Stopping at a lonely butcher shop, the creepy old lady within contacts the po-lice for them. As the local Sheriff is en-route to the "old Crawford mill", they agree to drive, corpse and all, out to meet him.
When the Sheriff is not at the designated meeting place, two of the gang head through the woods to see if they can find a residence and a working telephone to call the law enforcer once again. Unfortunately for all concerned, the house they stumble across is home to a bunch of sadistic hillbillies with a penchant for butchery - and they are not content to limit their perverse hobby to animals of the four-legged kind.
What follows is one of the most intense, prolonged and genuinely scary hack-em-up chases in recent film history. The unwitting teenagers are captured, tortured and dismembered by the sickest bunch of genetic throwbacks ever assembled on film. The original DOP (Daniel Pearl) returned to remake this horror classic - and his 2003 version benefits from the passage of time and the increase in budget afforded him. The plot is just that bit better defined this time around - particularly the back-story of why the kids are there in the first place - whilst the dialogue and acting is of a higher standard all round. The cinematography pays homage to the original film, with some shots looking exactly like the scenes from the original film yet adding imaginative new ones - such as the incredible "through the head" shot in the van near the start. Whilst there is still a tendency to use an altered colour palette and that "bleached out" look, the film looks much cleaner and clearer than the original. All the better to scare you with, my dear.
In an all-too-rare event, the remake is, for my money, better than the original. Those of you who have not seen the original are encouraged to do so, as it truly was a genre-defining effort. This release however - well, it's better shot, better scripted, better acted, has better-developed characters, better visual effects and is twice as bloody scary! Having recently watched Wrong Turn (again), I would say it is a close call as to which is the better movie overall...if pushed though I would say that Wrong Turn may just win by a nose. Some critics claim that this is a trashy, cynical, derivative, cash-driven remake. Well, of course it doesn't contain too much new...it is a remake of a classic genre movie. It takes all the "best" bits of the original and improves them in every way. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in its 2003 incarnation comes very highly recommended for both fans of the original movie and slasher flicks in general. It is designed to shock and scare - and it delivers in spades. Be warned this is a truly gruesome watch!
The video quality of this transfer is very good indeed, and generally approaching reference quality.
The video is presented 16x9 enhanced at 1.85:1 which is the original theatrical aspect ratio. It is sharp throughout, with almost no significant grain and represents a transfer which is about as good as it gets for a horror film.
As is absolutely necessary for a horror film, the dark scenes show solid, inky-deep blacks with no low level noise. Mercifully, the shadow detail is very well handled in this transfer, with plenty of detail evident in even the darkest of scenes. The colour palette tends towards a cool green and dirty brown, befitting the Texan country setting. The reds for the not infrequent blood are deep and dark, making the gore feel more visceral and less "corn syrup" than some Hollywood horror efforts. The overall feel of the transfer evokes memories of Se7en in what is a suitably oppressive palette that suits the film perfectly. Skins tones are natural at all times.
The transfer to DVD has resulted in no significant compression artefacts. There was some edge enhancement present on occasion, but it was never distracting even on a very large projected image. Aliasing was absent on my (progressive scan) system. Telecine wobble is mildly evident in the title sequence but not during the movie itself.
Film artefacts are virtually absent in what is (unsurprisingly for such a recent vintage) a very clean transfer. There is some deliberate scratchiness and grain in the "file footage" at the start of the film.
The English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles are well timed and very easy to read. They change location on the screen to reflect the character who is talking at any given point. They also provide detailed audio cues including song lyrics and follow the dialogue very closely, dropping only a few words for the sake of brevity.
This disc is in a single layered DVD 5 format so there is no layer change to detect.
The overall audio transfer is very good, and the localised sound effects add immensely to the very tense and horrific nature of the movie experience.
The main English audio track is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 448 kbps. The EX flag on my amp was not triggered by this DVD. The Region 1 track is EX encoded. There is a secondary Dolby Digital 2.0 track (encoded at 224 kbps) present which I sampled briefly. This does a reasonable job, but obviously lacks the power and dynamic range of the preferred 5.1 option.
I noticed no problems with audio defects such as hiss, clicks or dropouts. Dialogue is almost always clear although I found that some of the early discussions inside the van left me reaching for the subtitle button. Audio sync never caused me any worry.
The main score is credited to Steve Jablonsky (additional music in Hannibal and Bad Boys II). There are also credits to Tobe Hooper for the original theme and Mel Wesson ( Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and Black Hawk Down) for ambient music design. The overall score does a great job in building tension and adding to the oppressive fear which builds throughout the movie. The IMDb also points out the incorrect inclusion of a contribution by Lynard Skynard - Sweet Home Alabama - which hadn't actually been released when the film was set!
The overall soundstage for the film is very lively, atmospheric and usually highly enveloping. The front speakers anchor the dialogue in the centre channel and deliver it cleanly whilst also providing a nice spread of music and panning effects across the front soundstage.
The surround channels are in use almost constantly, delivering some really creepy ambience throughout the flick. There are some nice shock moments as the surrounds bark out a surprise localised effect or two. The rear channels also provide a nicely enveloping feel to the musical score. There are instances of front to rear panning effects. The subwoofer was used almost constantly to carry bass from both the musical score and the chilling sound effects. Rattling chains have never sounded so good. There is a sustained deep bass presence particularly whenever anything creepy is happening (about ninety percent of the time) and lots of true LFE activity present. The subwoofer certainly earns its keep here.
|Surround Channel Use|
Once again, unfortunately, Roadshow are doing no favours for Region 4 DVD fans. There is a single sad extra on this DVD.
The main menu is in itself a scary little number. It has some terrifying sound effects playing in the background while the visuals are provided courtesy of a flickering, scratchy title intercut with flashes of something icky. It allows the limited options of playing the movie, selecting the audio format, activating the subtitles or viewing the trailer. There are sixteen chapter stops present, but there is no menu option to select one of these scenes. For those desperate to find further content, clicking on the Roadshow logo will play a clip providing details of the DVD authoring.
A very scary trailer, presented windowboxed (not 16x9 enhanced) at 1.72:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 224 kbps, and running for 2:13.
There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Does anyone remember my review of Roadshow Entertainment's Region 4 release of Freddy Vs. Jason? Well, guess what's coming? The Region 1 release of this movie is presented as a two-disc set - part of the New Line Platinum collection, distributed by Warner Home Video. It leaves the Region 4 release swinging aimlessly from a meat-hook....
The Region 1 release misses out on:
The Region 4 release misses out on:
To quote my earlier review - Shame on Roadshow Entertainment for this truly pathetic Region 4 release. Vote with your wallet and buy the two disc Region 1 version. You can buy the Region 1 release for slightly less than the RRP of this paltry Region 4 release.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a very scary, fairly gory re-interpretation of the original 1974 movie. It can hold its head up high within the slasher genre both in its own right, and as a remake. This is gruesome, nail biting horror which will delight fans of the genre and revolt those who are not. Highly recommended - fans of schlock horror films will not be disappointed with a (Region 1) purchase of this title.
The video quality is very good.
The audio transfer is very good.
Extras are shamefully limited (in Region 4) to a theatrical trailer. Buy the Region 1 release.
|DVD||Harmony DVD Video/Audio PAL Progressive, using Component output|
|Display||Sanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Onkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES|
|Speakers||JensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer|