Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The: 2 Disc Limited Collector's Edition (2003)

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Released 6-Oct-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Production
Audio Commentary-Tech
Audio Commentary-Story
Gallery- 2, Photo And Art
Alternate Ending-And Alternate Opening
Featurette-Documentary: TCM "Redux"
Featurette-Documentary: Ed Gein - The Ghoul Of Plainfield
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Documentary: Severed Parts
Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-Cast Screen Tests
Music Video
TV Spots
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 94:17
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (48:08)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Marcus Nispel
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Jessica Biel
Jonathan Tucker
Erica Leerhsen
Mike Vogel
Eric Balfour
Andrew Bryniarski
R. Lee Ermey
David Dorfman
Lauren German
Terrence Evans
Marietta Marich
Heather Kafka
Kathy Lamkin
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI $39.95 Music Finger Eleven
Jonathan Flood
Steve Jablonsky


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes, drugs
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Earlier this year I had the pleasure of reviewing the excellent remake of the 1974 Tobe Hooper classic horror flick The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I was delighted to see that (in my view) it improved on the original, being scarier, bloodier and with a better back-story for the characters. The biggest problem with the DVD release was the almost total lack of extras on offer - a theatrical trailer was the extent of the bonus features. This compared most unfavourably to the 2-disc Region 1 release, and I was critical of Roadshow Entertainment for their failure to deliver a more weighty package. Judging by the comments posted on this site, and the emails I received, most of the Region 4 fans of the movie were equally disgruntled. Well, as with Freddy Vs. Jason, Roadshow have now - belatedly - made good, and have kindly released the 2-Disc Limited Collector's Edition. Once again, I can only wonder if this will be a case of "too little too late" for Region 4 fans. Rather than re-write my plot synopsis, I have reproduced the relevant bits below:

    "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."

    I have now viewed this film several times, and I still believe that the remake is even better than the original. With the very, very substantial extra features now added to the mix, I can heartily recommend a purchase of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: 2-Disc Limited Collector's Edition in its Region 4 incarnation. As ever - be warned because this is genuinely one of the bloodiest, most horrifying films I have seen in years.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    As with the previous, single disc release, the video quality of this transfer is very good indeed - generally approaching reference quality. It has a high average bit rate of 7.96 Mbps, whereas the previous release averaged a lesser 5.52 Mbps.

    The video is once again 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. Listening to the audio commentaries, I now know that a bleach-bypass process was indeed used in the creation of the film (as in Pitch Black), and this is responsible for much of the visual texture of the movie.

    The transfer to DVD has resulted in no significant compression artefacts. There remains some edge enhancement present on occasion (particularly notable as a halo around dark clothing), 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. I did spot one or two more this time - but on re-checking the previous release, they were also present there. 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. Interestingly, a direct comparison reveals that they are not identical to those found on the previous single disc release. They do not appear to provide as much attribution for off-screen dialogue this time around, but do still provide detailed audio cues including song lyrics. They still manage to follow the dialogue very closely, dropping only a few words for the sake of brevity.

    The previous single disc release was in a single layered DVD 5 format. The new release in presented in RSDL format, with the layer change cropping up at 48:08, but it is extremely well placed at a scene change (just as Leatherface begins his needlework). The second, extras, disc is in DVD9 format.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The overall audio transfer remains very good indeed, and the localised sound effects add immensely to the very tense and horrific nature of the movie experience. This is very close to a reference quality transfer.

    There are now two meaty English audio tracks available for the main feature. The first is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 448 kbps (as per the single disc release). This track is vibrant, loud and full of bass. Once again, the EX flag on my amp was not triggered by this DVD. The Region 1 track is EX encoded. The second audio transfer is a dts 5.1 affair encoded at 768 kbps. I believe the Region 1 dts track is ES encoded. I sampled both tracks and found, unusually, that I preferred the feel of the Dolby Digital track. The dts track seemed to be less powerful and somewhat more diffuse - albeit still extremely good. For me, the slightly more claustrophobic Dolby track has the edge. Neither of these transfers will disappoint fans.

    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 extra features provide more insight into the creation of the score - with it being less orchestral, and more sound-effect based than many numbers. 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. My recent re-viewing of the film has made me feel even more positive about the quality of the audio on this film - it really is top notch.

    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 also several very satisfying 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.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Well done! Roadshow have finally delivered the goods in the extras department - but how about being a bit quicker off the mark next time guys?

Menu

    The main has been changed from the single disc release. Unfortunately, not for the better in my view. Gone is the scary little number with its terrifying sound effects flickering, scratchy titles intercut with flashes of something icky. The new menu is more sophisticated perhaps - featuring video clips as it does - but it lacks the creep factor present in the earlier incarnation. Anyway, it allows the options of playing the movie, selecting the audio format, listening to the commentary tracks, activating the subtitles or selecting one of eighteen beautifully animated chapter stops. The second disc menu is similarly themed and allows access to the bulk of the extras:

Disc 1

Audio Commentaries

    Boy are we spoiled for choice - not one, or two, but three full length commentary tracks are provided. I have to be honest - I did not listen to all three in full, but did sample all of them for about forty minutes each. The first and third I found to be entertaining, whilst the middle one left me a bit bored - your mileage will of course vary. As there are numerous people present in each commentary, they thoughtfully state their name every time they contribute. Obviously the comments were not recorded at the same time, so the lack of real interaction between the commentators leaves them feeling a little drier than they otherwise might. Nevertheless, you are spoiled with the following Dolby Digital 2.0 (at 192 kbps) choices:

Disc 2

Photo Gallery

    Yawn. Fourteen silent pictures of the creation of Leatherface's mask.

Alternate Opening and Closing Scenes

    As the title suggests, these scenes run for 1:24 and 2:20 respectively. Both are presented 16x9 enhanced at 1.85:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps.

Chainsaw Redux - Making a Massacre

    A superb feature-length documentary which runs for an impressive 76:08 and is presented 16x9 enhanced at 1.85:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps. It covers the history of the first film (including some snippets from that movie) and this remake. Almost worth a purchase in its own right.

Ed Gein: The Ghoul of Plainfield

    Another excellent documentary with various talking heads discussing the squalid life of serial killer Ed Gein. He was the inspiration for TCM, Psycho and possibly also Silence of the Lambs. What a sick puppy...this is really, really chilling stuff. This runs for 24:15 and is presented 16x9 enhanced at 1.85:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps.

Deleted Scenes

    These scenes are presented 16x9 enhanced at 1.85:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps:

Severed Parts

    Yet another documentary - containing the deleted scenes and alternate start and ending, which can feel repetitious if you have already watched the preceding clips. It runs for 16:41 and is presented 16x9 enhanced at 1.85:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps.

Theatrical Trailer

    A very scary trailer, presented window boxed (not 16x9 enhanced) with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps, and running for 2:09.

Cast Screen Tests

    Interesting screen tests for three of the cast with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps:

Art Gallery

    Ten silent pencil sketches for the design of Leatherface's house.

Music Video

    Suffocate by Motorgrater running for 3:02 and presented non 16x9 enhanced at 1.78:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track encoded at 192 kbps.

TV Spots

    Seven short TV spots for the film, running in series for a total of 3:38, and presented non 16x9 enhanced at 1.78:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track.

Censorship

    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.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 release misses out on:

    The Region 4 release misses out on:

    To Roadshow Entertainment's credit, whilst this version does not possess 100% of the features available in Region 1, it is a much closer call these days. Nevertheless, the Region 1 release is still the preferred choice - just.

Summary

    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 no longer be disappointed with a Region 4 purchase of this title.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio transfer is very good.

    Extras are superb including three commentary tracks and some substantial documentaries that go way beyond the routine EPK nonsense.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Thursday, September 30, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDMomitsu V880 upconverting DVI player, using DVI output
DisplaySanyo 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 DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer

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Comments (Add)
Almost as good... - Uncanny Antman
The wait - Andrew500 REPLY POSTED
This movie was a pathetic cliched mess and had nothing over the original - J Sebastian REPLY POSTED
NOT SCARY, NOT HORRIFYING, NOT BLOODY - iamthemuffin