|Year Released||1974||Commentary Tracks||None|
|Running Time||83:25 minutes||Other Extras||None|
Paul A. Partain
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||MPEG||2.0|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Dolby Digital||2.0|
||Soundtrack Languages||English (Dolby Digital 2.0 ,
English (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 192Kb/s)
English (MPEG 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
English (MPEG 2.0 mono, 192Kb/s)
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes, mildly|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
According to what I have been told, this film is actually based on real-life events, although you'd never know it from how ludicrous the action is, not to mention how bad most of the acting is. The story begins with a voice-over newscast describing a series of grave desecrations in an unspecified area of a state which is only specified in the title (presumably Texas). Sally (Marilyn Burns) and her invalid brother Franklin (Paul A. Partain) have relatives who are buried in one such graveyard, and as relatives would do, they visit the area to see if anything has been done to any family graves. Along for the ride are their friends Jerry (Allen Danniger), Kirk (William Vale) and Pam (Teri McMinn), who are basically the same thing in this film as anyone besides Bruce Campbell was in The Evil Dead - chainsaw fodder. After their visit to the graveyard, the quintet make their way across the area by way of the slaughterhouses. Along the way they pick up a hitchhiker (Edwin Neal) who is unbalanced to say the very least. After dropping said hitchhiker off in somewhat unpleasant circumstances, the five youths stop in an empty district where they encounter Leatherface and family. The rest, as they say, is history.
According to the blurbs on the packaging, this film has been "painstakingly restored from the original 16mm ECO negative". This gives a false impression of the film's visual quality, because the words "painstakingly restored" imply the same quality as the recent remasterings of the classic Star Wars trilogy. On the other hand, given that the film in question arrived on cinema screens in the days when VCRs were a pipe dream, much less the days when VHS and Betamax were fighting it out for dominance of the market, it is better than I would normally expect. The film is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the same aspect ratio as the theatrical release, and it is not 16x9 enhanced. A pan and scan version was not included on the disc, but this hardly makes a difference in my view. So how does the film look after all has been said and done about the trouble that Force Video say they went to in order to get the best they could out of the source material? Well, it depends on how you look at it, really. Given that this film is simply unavailable on any other medium, a comparison between the DVD and analogue formats is pretty much impossible. Compared to films of much more ancient vintage that have made their way to DVD (Jason And The Argonauts immediately springs to mind), the quality is quite ordinary.
A lack of definition plagues the transfer from start to finish, although it varies according to the subject of the shot. Daytime scenes were not too badly affected by this problem, but since most of the film takes place in the dark, it is rather noticeable for most of the film. Another area where the dark setting of the film works to its detriment in this transfer is in the rather poor shadow detail, although this is more likely a problem with the photographic equipment available in 1974 than the transfer. Given the 16mm source material this transfer was taken from, however, there is surprisingly little film grain apparent in the image, which is a rather pleasant surprise. MPEG artefacts were noticed from time to time, and were of two kinds. The typical MPEG-related background blockiness was seen more frequently, and some motion blur resulting from MPEG motion compensation artefacts also made their way into the picture. This was in spite of the bit rate of the transfer being consistently at the 10Mb/sec maximum data rate of DVD. The occasions where it did fall below this level were rare, and very brief, which makes the presence of MPEG artefacts all the more puzzling.
Film-to-video artefacts were rare, and were mainly restricted to some telecine wobble during the opening credits that, strangely enough, enhanced the general feel of this sequence. Video artefacts were present in the image, which consisted of video dropouts. Said video dropouts appeared periodically as white lines across the image. These artefacts picked up in frequency during the latter half of the film, and were especially noticeable given that they are so rarely seen on DVD. Film artefacts were also present, but they were never particularly noticeable in spite of their frequency.
No audio sync problems were noted with this transfer. It would have added a nice comedic touch to the proceedings, although there's not much comedy to be had with people screaming incoherently at each other without their lips moving, if I must be honest. Still, it would have lent a certain comic value to the film that would have made for a much greater replayability value. Although much greater than "once in a blue moon" is really not saying much, I guess. On the other hand, the dark, eerie music contributed by Tobe Hooper and Wayne Bell lends a certain effect to the film the that the dialogue doesn't. In a way, it reminds me of the music in Make Them Die Slowly, a film I can just see Force Video bringing out on DVD (yes, that's a hint).
The surround channels were used in an uneven and rare fashion. The occasional dose of ambience and music was injected into the surround channels, but the soundtrack was generally very front-and-centre. The subwoofer basically twiddled its thumbs for most of the movie, injecting the occasional unenthusiastic yawn here and there.
The video quality is below average, although this can be attributed to the source material. I also challenge you to find a better presentation.
The audio quality is below average, but this can also be attributed to the source material.
The extras are non-existent.
|DVD||Grundig GDV 100 D, using composite output; Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video and composite outputs|
|Display||Panasonic TC51M80A (51cm), 4:3 mode, using composite input; Panasonic TC-29R20 (68 cm), 4:3 mode, using composite input; Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm), 16:9 mode/4:3 mode, using composite and S-video inputs;|
|Audio Decoder||None/Built-In (Amplifier)|
|Amplification||Sony STR-DE535, using analogue input; Sony STR-DE835, using bitstream/PCM digital input|
|Speakers||Panasonic S-J1500D Front Speakers, Sharp CP-303A Back Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Subwoofer|