Movie Review: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) – Dark Sky Films 4K

March 18, 2023

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

For those that have previously missed out on one of the greatest fright flicks ever created:

After a series of grizzly news accounts, and an opening narration courtesy of Night Court‘s John Larroquette, set the scene we are introduced to a group of groovy teens including Sally Hardesty (
Marilyn Burns) and her far less groovy, uber-annoying, wheel-chair bound brother Franklin (Paul A. Partain), who are on a road trip across Texas.

Along the way the gang picks up a deranged hitchhiker, who’s hobbies include self-harm and photography, and after (eventually) kicking his ass the fuck out of their van they discover that they are low on gas.

Unfortunately for them, the local station is plum out so off they go to explore a nearby abandoned house (which is a shitty idea in the best of times… let alone when there are creepy locals and a spate of grave-robbing going down)… a house that’s unfortunately home to a cannibal clan and their whipping boy; the hulking Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen), a brutal murder-machine with a mask constructed of human flesh and the mind of a severely mentally impaired child.

Our heroes arrival goes over like a fart in a submarine, and soon ‘Face is slicing and dicing those kids up six ways to Sunday with his signature chainsaw… who will survive and what will be left of them indeed…

Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a perfect example of making something awesome out of jack-fuckin’-squat.

Utilizing incredibly jarring sound design, creative set decor (a kaleidoscopic avalanche of human and animal remains utilized for both furniture and decoration), some seriously beautiful cinematography, and breathless editing; Hooper and his crew showcase nightmare tableaus of rural fever-dream nastiness that keep the viewer on edge throughout the film’s 83 minute run-time without showcasing hardly anything in the ways of the gore you’d expect from the title.

Also worth mentioning

Narrative-wise, ol’ TCM isn’t trying to set the world alight with intricate storytelling and engaging characters; rather this is simply a cat and mouse game (albeit very creatively told) with generic (and in the case of Franklin, fucking obnoxious) protagonists… but that being said, Hooper (and co-writer Kim Henkel) make the antagonists something truly memorable with that freaky family, who’s revoltin’ ranks include an un-named neo-primitive hitchhiker (Edwin Neal), the family’s resident cook Old Man (Jim Siedow), the nearly mummified, yet still living… barely, Grandfather (John Dugan), and of course the icon himself; Leatherface. These are unforgettable movie madmen, and the menace they project is uncomfortably palpable whenever they grace the screen with their unholy presence.

Thankfully you’ll be able to see all of their dastardly doings in the best way possible courtesy of the 4K transfer utilized by Dark Sky Films for this 2 Disc UHD Steelbook release which while retaining the texture and suitably dinginess of the film’s shot on 16MM image, still manages to push the color saturation up to present images of stunning beauty among all the ugliness.

Enhancing the viewer’s enjoyment are the compliment of bonus features included here which kick off with no fewer than four archival audio commentaries, featuring actors Burns, Allen Danziger, Paul A. Partain & production designer Robert Burns, Hooper (who also gets his own solo track), Hansen, and cinematographer Daniel Pearl (who also gets a second track featuring editor J. Larry Carroll and sound recordist Ted Nicolaou (who would go on to helm the Subspecies series for Charles Band’s Full Moon Features​ a few decades later) respectively on Disc One.

Disc Two contains The Legacy of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a feature-length documentary that explores various horror authors, directors, and critics views on the film’s impact on both themselves and pop culture, as well as it’s themes, and production choices, followed by a nearly hour-long archival conversation about the film between The Exorcist director William Friedkin and Hooper.

After that comes The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Shocking Truth ​(an archival “making of”/retrospective), as well as Flesh Wounds: Seven Stories of the Saw, which contains archival interviews about the film’s production.

Also included are a host of other archival material including: a tour of the filming location with Hansen, interviews with actress Teri McMinn, production manager Ron Bozman, Dugan, and Carroll, a collection of deleted scenes and outtakes, a blooper reel, a series of outtakes from The Shocking Truth, another tour of the film’s locations (this time courtesy of Horror’s Hallowed Grounds), a look at the application of the “Grandpa” make-up (via stills), a still gallery, and a collection of trailers, TV, & radio spots.

Brutal, grimy, and at times darkly humorous, Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is an absolute legend of the horror biz and should be in your creepy collection post-haste, and there’s no better version than this to bring the beatings and barbecue home!




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