Almost 50 years after its initial release, Tobe Hooper’s intensely visceral film is just as disturbing as when it first shocked a generation of cinemagoers. To celebrate the upcoming half-century anniversary of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a brand new limited edition 4K box from Second Sight is available now.
Upon its release in 1974, the film proved to be as divisive as it was popular, banned in many countries and garnering an infamous reputation; The Texas Chainsaw Massacre helped redefine the genre in the 70s and paved the way for countless other movies for the next five decades. Long before The Blair Witch Project tricked millions of us into thinking what we saw was true, the connection between Texas Chainsaw and the real-life serial killer Ed Gein is irrefutable. As such, Texas Chainsaw’s infamy only grew over the years.
What I found interesting, rewatching the movie after a good number of years, is just how little blood is actually spilled. Exploitation and horror movies during this era were usually blood-soaked affairs by nature, but there is shockingly little of the red stuff on display here. Sure, the horror scenes are intense; Leatherface does have a ruddy chainsaw, after all, yet there is tremendous restraint in how much gore made it to the screen.
As a franchise, Texas Chainsaw has had numerous sequels, reboots, prequels, and last year’s Texas Chainsaw serves as a direct sequel to the original. Sadly, none of what came after matched the success or impact of the first movie; while I admire the shift into a dark comedy for Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, as a franchise, it is solely built on the original classic, and they should have just stopped there. It shows edary restraint from Hooper that it took more than a decade for the first sequel to arrive. Leatherface remains alive and dancing the dance that haunted a million nightmares; given the success of the original, it is surprising it took more than a decade for Hooper to revisit the franchise.
The 4K UHD presentation is fantastic; there’s no escaping that Hooper’s movie is rough and ready by design, but it has never looked this good before. As you’d expect from a Second Sight limited edition release, the artwork is (as expected)sublime. There is a treasure chest of special features, including a fantastic feature-length documentary on the film’s legacy. You only have to look at Ti West’s recent X to see the lasting impact The Texas Chainsaw Massacre still has on the horror genre 50 years after it first terrified audiences.