Directed by: Tobe Hooper
Starring: Marilyn Burns, Allen Danziger
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"Look what your brother did to the door!"
is no way for me to ever explain how great this movie is without
sounding like I’m repeating everything that’s been written before- so
I’ll just say this. This is the movie that made horror fans out of
people, started careers, and created an entire legion of ripoffs.
I just simply don’t have the writing chops to reiterate how amazing
this work is, and besides, you already know it- so in this review I’m
going to focus on the extras- which is why most of you will be buying
this set anyway. And you will want to buy it.
The Sight and Sound-
film looks and sounds better than it ever has before. It’s got a
brand-new anamorphic HD transfer created from the original 16mm
negatives- and trust me that you’ve never seen it this clear before. I
might even say that it looks like it was shot alongside the remake,
because it looks so good. Which is not to say it’s not still a little
grainy- but that’s a good thing, since I don’t think this movie would
work as well if it were completely nice and shiny. The sound’s been
redone as well- in new 5.1 and 2.0 remixes that sound beautiful- it’ll
make you squirm like when you first picked up the vhs.
is where you’re all going to squeal with glee, like a pig. This dvd has
more extras than any other TCM disc released on these shores.
The First Disc-
Actors Marily Burns, Paul A. Partain, Allen Danziger, and Art Designer Robert A. Burns- This
is the old commentary off of the last disc- and it’s just as good as it
was then – focusing mostly on the actors, obviously- but thankfully
getting into a lot about the creation of the sets.
Tobe Hooper, Gunnar Hansen and Daniel Pearl-
This is a new commentary, and needless to say, it’s amazing. Either of
the 3 by themselves would be reason en0ugh to listen to a commentary,
but all of them work really well off each other and create one of the
most interesting commentaries in recent memory.
Trailers, TV and Radio Spots-
2 for TCM, 2 for the Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer flicks, and
another couple for The Manson Family and Eaten Alive. Guess they
couldn’t get the rights to the TCM sequels. There’s also 3 TV spots and
2 radio spots, which are interesting but just point out the same bits-
mostly that there’s a chainsaw and women screaming in this flick.
-Grandpa! Your hands!
-All the better to disgust you with, my child.
The Second Disc-
First up, there’s TCM- The Shocking Truth.
This is the doc that’s only been available to our British brethren on
their R2 release. They’re laughing at us right now, because we’ve been
missing out, folks. This is every bit as intensive as you could ask
for. A great feature length doc exploring everything from the concept
of the original to the films it spawned. They managed to track down
practically everyone involved in the series and get their side of
things. It leads to some amusing contradictions behind what really went
on- as people’s memories of the original shoot seem a little shaky.
(Such as the incredibly long dinner shoot which is said to have taken
anywhere from 26-36 hours) It’s all very cleverly edited together, and
never gets boring. You’ll hear all sorts of info you didn’t know
before- such as how the mafia had a role in financing the picture and
how lots of people got shafted from their percentages. (Gunnar Hansen
received a check for 47 bucks 9 months after release- after it had
already pulled in millions of dollars.) It even goes into the problems
with the sequels and what the original actors are up to today. The
film’s just as interesting as the one it’s about. Absolutely mandatory
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the brand new doc Flesh Wounds,
which was created exclusively for this dvd. It’s very hit or miss-
focusing on 7 different aspects of the movie that haven’t been touched
on before, or so they claim. It starts off with one of the best- an
interview with Daniel Pearl. One problem with it is that the editors
went a little overboard. You don’t need the sound of a phone ringing
every time he talks about one, or that irritating "picture sound" (from
the beginning of the film) repeated over and over.It’s interesting
enough to hear about this guy who got his first feature film at the end
of 23 and created some one of the most memorable looks every created in
film. He even goes over how he made that infamous low shot of the girl
as she walks to the house. Really good interview. Next up is the
mind-numbing tour of the TCM house by the guy who overcharges for his
own tours ($250 for a 2 person, 1 day tour of houses they don’t even
have access to and look completely different than they did 30 years
ago? Blow me.) This bit’s mostly a plug, and very expendable-
especially since they missed a huge opportunity to compare shots from
the film with shots they took in the house- and instead just have this
guy talking about them. Bah.
This right here? This is a room.
Neal (The Hitchhiker) has an interview next, and he is absolutely
fucking nuts. He’s done a lot of voicework since TCM and it shows,
because he doesn’t stay in the same voice for more than 10 seconds.
Interesting interview, but mostly to see what he does next rather than
anything that’s covered. After him we have an actually touching look
back at Paul Partain, Jim Siedow and Robert A. Burns, who’ve died in
recent years, even since the Shocking Truth doc.
an interview with Doctor W.E. Barnes as he talks about creating the
elderly makeup for "Grandpa". You didn’t know that Grandpa was played
by a teenager, did ya? The doc was a plastic surgeon who managed to
create some truly convincing old skin…. on his first foray into
special effects makeup. The 6th part? Another plug, this time for a few
conventions that the actors have appeared at. Little blurbs from people
here who talk about how TCM influenced them. And lastly, we have Gunnar
Hansen talking about his life after Leatherface, and how it affected
him. He’s always an interesting guy to hear from- and it’s amusing to
see what a serene and calm life he lives up in the countryside.
Besides from the 2 docs- there are many more extras on the second disc of this set.
A Tour of the TCM House with Gunnar Hansen-
Much more interesting than the one from Flesh Wounds, mostly because
we’re guided by a guy who actually was there during the shoot, rather
than reiterating something someone else told him. I could listen to
Gunnar talk forever.
It’s true! Leatherface does taste like chicken.
Deleted Scenes and Outtakes
– Most of this is various environmental shots- sick things from inside
the house the probably made the film drag on too long. Most of it is
silent and the picture quality ain’t that great.
Short clip of a few fuckups during the shoot. Nothing too special, and
the quality is pretty bad on this one too. Still, cool to see.
Outtakes from The Shocking Truth
– Good stuff here. Everything from stories about pot brownies and
chainsaws interrupting the interview to people plugging their new work.
Lot of funny little stories that didn’t make it to the doc.
Doctor W.E. Barnes Presents Making Grandpa
– A still gallery which shows the process of making Grandpa come alive,
step by step. Good stuff- and it’s great how there’s little notes on
each image about what the step entails.
These are never that great, but this one’s worth it just to see some of
the wacky international posters that were created for this.
dig it. The cover is the classic shot of Leatherface but done in a
painting. The film is also going to be encased in a tin which, while I
don’t have it, sounds like a great thing (as I clutch by tins of Evil
Dead 2 and The Beyond to my heart)
must-buy. Throw away that other disc and pick this up, because this is
the definitive set. Can’t see it getting much better than this.
One of the least-remembered bits of the film.