Ever since 1974, the notorious buzz of Leatherface’s chainsaw still rips it way through the peoples consciousness.
Even today and with the re-release of Tobe Hooper’s superb original hitting selected cinema screens restored in fantastic 4K resolution, I thought I would pull the chord on how The Texas Chain Saw Massacre has hacked its way through the ages to become one of cinemas most sadistic horror movie ever made.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was made on a budget of around $80,000. This small budget forced the entire cast and crew into a long laborious shoot which went on for weeks on end under the extreme Texan heat.
These tiresome conditions along with the very unique props and special effects (most of the fake blood used was real animal blood from the local abbattoir) conjured up truly traumatising performances that has helped send audiences into a frenzy. Even now, the new sound mix accompanying the 4K restoration makes the screams from the actors a more horrifying experience than the chainsaw buzz itself.
Upon the films release back in ’74 it became the 12th highest grossing film of the year, but interests for it grew and grew. That interest quickly turned into controversy and the film was ended up being banned all over the place.
It wasn’t until 1999 that the BBFC agreed to grant the film an 18 certificate. One year later Channel 4 snapped up the rights to broadcast it which then became headline news: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/974619.stm.
Now, during the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, it was paid a special tribute by having a beautifully sharp restoration made with an introduction to by Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn. Refn went on to say how this film inspired him in wanting to become a director after seeing it when he was 14, he then goes on to explain: “The curse of the film is that it’s a masterpiece… When you make a film that goes beyond filmmaking, it’s no longer just a movie.” (Full video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiaB_Eragug.
Receiving this kind of ovation now, after all the backlash it developed just goes to show the never ending curiosity and impact its had through the years, always ‘one-up’ing itself into the public conscious and back in to cinema screens.
Of course, with this much attention, the success of the film became massive and its main antagonist, Leatherface has now gained a reputation for being a key player in the horror genre.
Actor Gunnar Hansen, the original Leatherface, sought inspiration for the character from observing the mannerisms of disabled children. Unlike the mysterious workings of Jason Voorhes or the supernatural spin to Freddy Krueger, Leatherface acted out with violence in self defence when he felt threaten.
Despite his cannibalistic family pulling the strings, Leatherface has become the iconic member. He’s become so popular that he’s even been made in to an awesome action figure and he’s even had the lunch box treatment.
Atari even saw how popular he had become and decided to produce a video game adaptation of the Texas Chain Saw Massacre. In the game, players could become Leatherface as he attempts to mow down trespassers on his farm whilst avoiding scattered skulls.
So, what a fitting way to celebrate 40 years of chainsaw savagery than releasing it in glorious 4K resolution with Hooper himself working on the restoration process.
Although it’s crisp new image is sharp and sleek, it still retains a heavy grain and a gritty feel that still makes Chainsaw a thrilling and face-paling experience.
Taking a whopping 5 months of time to complete, engineer Boris Seagraves spent his weeks going through the original 16mm print and removed dirt, scratches, rips in the image, chemical stains and glue splices to then digitally scan and stabiles the images; “When doing a digital scan of a conformed 16mm print with a splice at every cut, it can be tough to achieve the high standards we all aspire to in the era of digital cinema. What might have passed as acceptable in the 70’s looks jarring now. So we worked hard to smooth out the tremors that almost inevitably occur when scanning this type of film element.” Said Seagraves. (Full interview here: http://bloody-disgusting.com/news/3282090/full-details-4k-stills-for-restored-the-texas-chain-saw-massacre/).
If you’re a horror fan, you’ve bound to have seen this countless times but to relive the fear again, back in the cinema, I can not advocate enough.
The new 40th Anniversary restoration (two disc limited edition steelbook) of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is available to buy on Blu Ray right now:
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre: 40th Anniversary Restoration – 2 Disc Limited Edition Steelbook [Blu-ray]