Friday, June 27, 2008

Review: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 2-disc Ultimate Edition by Dark Sky Films

Buy The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2-Disc Ultimate Edition)
[Blu-ray] The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Dark Sky Films markets their DVD of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre as "The Ultimate Edition", and this reviewer agrees with the statement. This 2-disc set boasts the best image quality of any previous release. The original 16mm camera positive was used in a new high def transfer and the film has NEVER looked better!

TCM was filmed with gusto and all the lovely nuance of its green cinematographer (Daniel Pearl) in regular 16mm framed for 1.85:1. Anyone who understands film emulsions knows this greatly reduces exposure area which in turn gives the film a grainier, dirtier look when blown-up to 35mm for release prints. Pearl side stepped the issue somewhat by originating on a slow speed reversal stock by Kodak known as ECO. The ASA, or "light sensitivity", was an extremely low 25. This meant two things: 1) more light was needed to properly expose the film and, 2) the grain structure could be maintained for sharper images in the blow-up process. Knowing that Pearl had only one 10k and two 5k lamps for the night scenes just makes you appreciate the images all the more! Yes, you can tell it is 16mm. Yes, it is still "grainy" relative to today's stock. Yes, this adds immeasurably to the raw quality of this piece of American Folk Art. And ART this film is in every aspect of the word. Truly, uniquely, American Art.

The supplements (180 mins total!) are fantastic and further add to the appeal of this release. Included is two commentaries; the older Elite DVD Tobe Hooper-Daniel Pearl-Gunnar Hansen track and a track by the cast, including art director Bob Burns. Both are insightful and entertaining. Two documentaries over an hour each comprise most of disc 2; "The Shocking Truth" and "Flesh Wounds" rehash most of the "old stories" that hardcore fans are already privy to, but some new considerations are explored. Outtakes, bloopers, deleted scenes, stills gallery, TV & radio spots, and theatrical trailers fill out the extras. Digital 5.1 and 2.0 are added for sound quality but I prefer the original mono. The picture is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic enhanced for wide screen TVs.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a must have DVD not only for horror fans but any true cineaste. The Dark Sky Films release should be a valued treasure to any connoisseur. Retail is $29.98 but I purchased mine from for $16.49. Worth every copper token....

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