The 4K is family… MPI Media Group brings Tobe Hooper’s iconic The Texas Chain Saw Massacre to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray stateside. Using essentially the same impressive Dolby Vision transfer and Atmos audio from Turbine, this brutally beautifully ugly film looks and sounds amazing complete with an extensive assortment of bonus features. Fans who didn't import the German release can pick up a slick embossed SteelBook for the collection. Recommended
As we’ve covered The Texas Chain Saw Massacre a few different times now, I’ll let my colleague M. Enois Duarte’s reviews stand for this film.
But for a quick two cents of my own, I dearly love this movie. This was one of the first of very few horror films that actually deeply disturbed me when I saw it. Up to that point I’d just seen simple run-of-the-mill slasher sequels. Hell, ashamed to admit it but my first introduction to Leatherface was Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation! I hadn’t seen a horror movie with some guts to it. Conveniently enough the same long week off work I’d watch this film, I’d also take a crack at The Last House on the Left and I Spit on Your Grave. Numerous remakes, sequels, ripoffs, and silly Netflix legacy requels can’t surpass or even come close to matching what Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel cooked up for this gnarly gritty feature. And I say that with a lot of love for Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and even some heart for the 2003 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and 2006’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning.
Read our previous The Texas Chain Saw Massacre reviews
Peter Bracke's 2008 The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Blu-ray Review
M. Enois Duarte's 2016 The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Turbine 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
M. Enois Duarte's 2022 The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Turbine 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
At long last Dark Sky Films gasses up The Texas Chain Saw Massacre for 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with a two-disc 4K UHD + Blu-ray release. Essentially this 4K disc is virtually identical to what Turbine issued earlier in 2022 for their StreelBooks and MediaBook releases. The discs load to identical animated main menus, the only difference is this Dark Sky disc is in English. I picked up the SteelBook release offering the classic theatrical poster art with metallic embossing on the chainsaw and door. The discs get their own separate bays and a double-sided poster is included.
As previously mentioned, this 2160p 1.85:1 Dolby Vision (and HDR10) transfer is the same as the one Turbine used for their 2022 disc. Since they used MPI’s base restoration for their release, it’s not a surprise that they would use Turbine’s HDR grading and finishing work for the Dark Sky Film’s edition. Running side by side, even ripping the discs to do a video comparison yielded no discernible difference - which isn’t bad at all considering that Turbine Medien disc was terrific. Since it was shot on 16mm reversal, this is always going to be a dodgy title with interesting color saturation and blown-out whites and some deep dark black levels that borderline on crush. However, to date, this 4K Dolby Vision presentation is the best we’ve had on disc. The one little caveat for this particular disc, there does appear to be some ever-so-slight noise artifacting that wasn’t apparent on the Turbine disc. The only notable spot I saw was during that car ride when they pick up Edwin Neal - the shot of Allen Danziger with the bright white window was where I saw some brief jumblies. Nothing too serious since it actually kinda lends itself to the gritty grimy nature of the film.
From E's 2022 Review:
The drive-in cult classic rips into Ultra HD for a second helping, likely from the same HEVC H.265 encode as the previous UHD release, which was itself struck from a fresh 4K scan of the original 16mm camera negatives back in 2016 but not mastered in the high-dynamic-range format. However, the folks at Turbine Media Group have gone back and released the seminal horror favorite in four collectible UHD packages, bestowing it to the slavering, voracious appetites of horror hounds with a proper HDR media profile that is sure to please their palates.
This native 4K transfer is a remarkably good upgrade over its SDR predecessors, showing better definition and clarity from start to finish. Granted, coming originally from a cheap 16mm reversal stock, the source won't ever yield the sort of results we've come to expect from the format with a good majority of the runtime looking fairly soft and blurry, but any such instances of poor resolution are inherent to the condition of the stock and the photography. In spite of that, the overall improvements are still perceptible and notable for a source of this vintage and from a micro-budget production, especially for those already familiar with the movie's history on home video. Fans will greatly appreciate every distinct detail, stain, smudge, and scratch inside the Sawyer house while the slight rust stains, scrapes, and scuffs on the outside of the kids' van are plainly visible, and the fine lines along clothing and the stitching in Leatherface's masks are detailed.
On a more important better note — and the reason for this new UHD upgrade — the Dolby Vision HDR presentation dazzles and astonishes thanks to a superb and well-balanced high dynamic range, offering exceptional, right-on-the-money contrast and crisp, pitch-perfect whites. Specular highlights radiate with brilliant luminosity, showing distinct differences in the clouds while the metal trim of the van shimmers and glistens with incredible realism. Brightness levels are equally strong and true throughout with pitch-black shadows that complement the story's creepy atmosphere while maintaining strong visibility during the darkest, poorly-lit sequences. Understandably, there is the occasional blooming in the brightest spots and shadows can engulf the finer details, but all things considered and comparing the last release, this remains a step up. Best of all, Daniel Pearl's photography benefits and really takes advantage of the wider color gamut, displaying intensely animated reds, vivid greens in the foliage, and true-to-life blues in the skies. The HDR video also comes with bolder, richly saturated secondary hues, and facial complexions are highly revealing with healthy, peachy-red tones in the entire cast.
Awash in a natural, dense grain structure that is to be expected and unobtrusive, this new 4K HDR transfer is a genuine surprise considering the source's history and condition, which looks beautifully film-like and cinematic, making it the best the film has ever looked in any format. (Dolby Vision HDR Video Rating: 78/100)
Now the biggest difference between Turbine’s disc and the Dark Sky Films release is the audio package. Obviously lacking the German language options, this disc also doesn’t offer up the English Auro 3D 13.1 track instead opting for the base DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix. I don’t have an Auro 3D 13.1 setup so no loss for me there but for those so equipped when he reviewed it E. had a great time with it so that’s a consideration. As for the Atmos track, it is surprisingly excellent in its own right working in ways I didn’t quite expect to have much impact. For the purists out there, this disc also has the same DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo track and the same excellent restored DTS-HD MA Mono track. Even with the Atmos option, I’ve found myself drawn back to the mono for repeat viewings.
One area where I’ll give this set a leg up is in the bonus features package, it’s stacked. On top of four very entertaining and informative commentary tracks featuring various cast and crew members with Hooper’s own solo track, this set offers up a welcome mix of new and archival bonus features. The biggest get of this set is the new feature-length documentary The Legacy of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre - which was very entertaining to see a variety of industry players and Horror filmmakers discuss the film. It may not be a wealth of new information about the film itself, but it’s still a really cool piece and a highlight for sure. After that the awesome Friedkin/Hooper: A Conversation About The Texas Chain Saw Massacre returns after going missing on editions after the Black Maria Blu-ray set. From there you have the rest of the archival bits and pieces we’ve enjoyed from other releases - but if you haven’t gone through them they’re well worth the several hours of content.
4K UHD Disc
Blu-ray Bonus Disc
If you told me that inside of a year we would have not one, not two, but three 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray releases of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, I’d have told you you’re crazy - but then asked where I can buy them all. Turbine got the ball rolling with their excellent multi-cover SteelBook release and Dark Sky Films picks up that excellent transfer, Atmos, and legacy audio options. Where Dark Sky sweetens the deal is with an extensive collection of new and archival bonus features that’ll keep you occupied for several hours. Now we do have Second Sight’s own restoration coming down the pipe so this is by no means the final word for TCM on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, but if you’re itching for it, this is a solid domestic release that’s definitely worth checking out. However, if you’ve already picked up the Turbine disc, outside of the bonus features there’s no reason to snag this disc just for the A/V options. Recommended
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Standard Edition