TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D (BLU-RAY)
Reviewed by: Zombie Boy
Tremaine 'Trey Songz' Neverson
What's it about
A young woman inherits a sprawling mansion in the south from a relative she never knew she had, only to discover a certain murderous, be-masked fella living in the basement.
Is it good movie?
No one will ever mistake this film for art, but after the prequel to the remake, I was expecting exactly nothing from this new TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE installment, and as such was nicely surprised by how refreshing I found the concept. Instead of just bringing in a new bunch of pretty young people and having Leatherface knock them over like bowling pins, this film begins at the end of the source film, and takes it to a fiery, bullet-ridden, Bill Moseley-cameo'd, bloodbath of a conclusion, while setting it up for the events to follow.
Flash forward to modern day, and young Heather Miller discovers, through the death of a relative she never knew existed, that her parents might not be her biological ancestors, and she is suddenly the owner of a sprawling Southern palace that may hold the answers to a past she didn't even know contained questions. In traditional horror film practice, she assembles a group of friends for the journey south, and, spoiler alert, they run afoul of Leatherface, who is a resident of the home's basement. If only Heather had read dearly departed Gramma's letter before going to "check out the town"...well, there still would have been carnage.
Heather becomes a latter day Stretch from TCM II, but unlike that movie here sympathy is generated for Leatherface without turning him into a lovelorn buffoon. This movie manages to make the town leaders being out to snuff Leatherface somehow an injustice. All in all I'd say that while following typical horror film tropes, this movie still manages to be smarter than most of the TCM sequels, and sure as hell attempts new ideas and freshens old ones a whole lot better. It's still a cheesy horror film, but it knows what it is and takes pride in it.
Also, as you'll see below, this Blu-Ray, in addition to containing 3D, digital, and Ultraviolet versions of the film, is literally overflowing with special features.
Video / Audio
Video: 1080p High-Def; Widescreen; 2.40:1, optimized for 16x9 screens; and MVC Encoded 3D Full Resolution L/R/ Eye, if you've got one of them fancy 3D televisions (I don't).
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 (optimized for late night listening, whatever that means) in English, and Dolby Digital 5.1 in Spanish. There is also a 7.1 sound-check, which is neat, but meaningless for me as I don't have seven speakers.
Audio Commentary with director John Luessenhop and actor Dan Yeager: These guys jump right in with both feet, getting right down to nuts and bolts stuff. Luessenhop comes off as very knowledgeable about the mechanics of filmmaking, and both men are clearly fans of film and definitely big TCM fans.
Audio Commentary with producer Carl Mazzocone and filmmaker Tobe Hooper: I'm super pleased to see so much Tobe Hooper in these special features. It shows that they really wanted to honor the original, and clearly Hooper was a fan of the project as well. This is more of a trivia track, which is a nice complement to the previous nuts and bolts track. Though it's funny that Mazzocone references a deleted scenes feature on the disc, which does not exist.
Special "Chain Saw Alumni" Audio Commentary with stars Bill Moseley, Gunnar Hansen, Marylin Burns, and John Dugan: Do I really need to tell you how cool this commentary is? I mean, look at that list of people. Damned. If you're even a casual fan of the TCM franchise, you absolutely need to listen to this track. It's chock full of awesome stories and reminiscences.
Texas Chain Saw Legacy: This is a seven-minute fluff piece extolling the virtues of the original TCM film, but the people giving the fluff are mostly actors from the original film who cameo'd in this new one, as well as cast and crew from the new film and even Tobe Hooper himself. So it's endearing, genuine fluff.
Resurrecting the Saw: Ten-minute piece detailing how Twiztid Pictures obtained the opportunity to reboot the franchise, and gives some insights into how the picture was conceived, formed, and brought to fruition. It's mostly interviews with the behind the scenes players, as well as showing some BTS footage.
The Old Homestead: This is a 15-minute piece (they're getting systematically longer, ell oh ell) on the creation of the opening scene of the film, which is a continuation of the end of the original film. Needless to say, it was a meticulous endeavor to recreate the Sawyer house and the location of such. It's nice to see the attention to detail and homage paid to the original.
Casting Terror: Whereas the featurettes to this point have mostly concerned the original and the original's cast, this one brings it to present day and is mostly interviews with the cast of this newest TCM film. It's nice to see how much fun they had and how well they all got along on set.
Leatherface 2013: As the name implies, this is a 15-minute piece on the new Leatherface, which includes a lot of interview time with Dan Yeager, who must have been so happy to speak, since he utters barely a sound in the film as the aforementioned killer. There's a really nice bit where Yeager meets Gunnar Hanson for the first time, the original Leatherface.
Lights, Camera, Massacre: This is a nuts and bolts doc on the actual filming of the movie, most specifically shooting it in 3D. Most 3D films are converted in post from conventional 2D, so creating a film in 3D from the get-go is a relatively new process, and one that requires a lot of thought and engineering. Whoever thought so much planning would go into a cheesy gore film. There's also some stuff on the SFX and stunt work.
It's in the Meat: Aha! Here is the obligatory gore doc, going behind the scenes with the KNB crew. Watching them prep Shaun Sipo's (Darryl, a not so nice guy in the film) dummy head before it gets smashed by Leatherface is actually quite disturbing.
On Set Short Subjects: Five Minute Massacres: This is mostly straight up behind the scenes footage, and is probably the only really boring special feature in the disc. Bringing Down the House, again, concerns the opening scene of the film, and is features a pretty striking full-body burn; Trapped in the Van chronicles the scenes of Leatherface menacing the pretty young people as they seek refuge in their van; Factory Action takes place in the old meat-packing plant, where a lot of the climax of the film takes place; Leatherface in Action: shows the making of a scene where Leatherface hunts down and takes a character out; Hot Times in Louisiana: More Leatherface menacing characters, but this time outside; and finally, Bloody Good Times: Even more Leatherface menacing people. Seriously, this is a boring bit of the disc.
Alternate Opening: This version eschews the footage from the original film eventually used, and also brings in the vigilante aspect a bit later. I prefer what they went with theatrically.
Finally (whew) there is the theatrical trailer, credits, and trailers from other Lionsgate releases.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this film. A large part of that was expecting zero, but still. It chose to set itself apart from the previous recent TCM films entirely, and managed to insert new ideas while sticking to well-worn horror basics. It's got plenty of eye candy for both the guys and the gals, and a Leatherface who is both sympathetic and threatening at the same time. It may not be art, but damned it, I liked it. Throw onto that a great-looking Blu Ray packed with special features (and I do mean packed), and I personally don't see how you can go wrong with this one.