The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
By: J.R. McNamara on September 14, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
Roadshow (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1, English DTS 5.1. English (FHI) Subtitles. 94 minutes
The Movie
Credits
Director: Marcus Nispel
Starring: Jessica Biel, Jonathan Tucker, Erica Leerhsen, Mike Vogel, Eric Balfour, Andrew Bryniarski, R. Lee Ermey, David Dorfman, Andrew Bryniarski
Screenplay: Scott Kosar
Country: USA
The history of cinema has had a rocky road with remakes, generally fans of an original story will immediately talk against their 'holy grail' being polluted by a modern team's tinkering, but sometimes it works. Most horror or science fiction fans will name John Carpenter's The Thing as an important movie within both genres and Carpenter was successful as he didn't just remake it, he 're-imagined' it. He took it's basic premise, but told a different story. It worked with 1988's The Blob, 2004's Dawn of the Dead and here with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake. The usual 'It shouldn't be done!' rubbish surrounded it when it was first announced, but scriptwriter Scott Kosar (The Machinist) and director Marcus Nispel's (music video director for Faith No More and Cher, amongst others) proved that you can take an idea, in this case Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel's, and tell a vastly different story with similar elements. This film won many awards upon its release (BMI Film Music Award – Steve Jablonsky, Catalonian International Film Festival Best Art Direction – Scott Gallagher, Teen Choice Award – Choice Movie Thriller) and was nominated many times as well at many respected film festivals.

The premise may sound familiar, but this story is much different to the original 1973 Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It is August 18th, 1973, and five youngsters (Jessica Biel, Eric Balfour, Mike Vogel, Jonathon Tucker, Erica Leerhsen), are traveling from Mexico through Texas to see Lynard Skynard, when they decide to stop and pick up a hitchhiker. Meeting this hitchhiker causes a chain of events that will have them meet the Hewitt family of Travis County, and their lives will never be the same again.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre, like Psycho and Silence of the Lambs, is loosely based on the serial killer Ed Gein, who kept the tanned hides of women around his house, and occasionally dressed in them. What helped to give this remake some credibility was the involvement of original Texas Chainsaw Massacre cinematographer Daniel C. Pearl and the fact that original screenwriter's Henkel and Hooper acted as co-producers. Unlike the original, cannibalism is only suggested in this redux, but the cruelty of the family seems much more extreme. A special mention goes to R. Lee Ermey's portrayal of the Travis County Police's Sheriff Hoyt. Redneck through and though, this is a great example of both inspired casting and brilliant acting.

Marcus Nispel and Daniel Pearl also deserve much respect for creating a very claustrophobic sensation, even in the scenes that take place in wide open fields, there is a sullen feeling of oppression that cannot be shaken.
Video
The transfer for Texas Chainsaw Massacre is crisp and clear and sensational. A real delight to behold.
Audio
A choice of Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS 5.1, and the subtleties of both are breath-taking. Every drop of water heard in the background feels like it is running down your back.
Extra Features
On disc one there are three of quite possibly the best and well organized commentaries I have ever heard. Even speaker states his or name before they speak, therefore removing and misunderstanding with regards to who is making what comment, although Marcus Nispel's German accent makes it quite obvious when he speaks, and no-one talks over each other or interrupts each other. All are given a fair go with comments appropriate to the scene. Nispel has a voice on all three commentaries so occasionally he repeats himself, but from different points of view. There is a Production commentary where Nispel is accompanied by Producer Michael Bay and Executive Producers Brad Fuller and Andrew Form to discuss the foundation elements of the film: the casting, the locations and the general ideas behind the look and tone of the film. Nispel is joined on the Tech commentary by Daniel Pearl, Greg Blair, Scott Gallagher, Trevor Jolley and Steve Jablonsky to discuss everything from the score to the cinematic elements of the film. Finally, the Story commentary has Nispel along with Bay, Fuller and Form, scripter Scott Kosar and also cast members Jessica Biel, Eric Balfour, Mike Vogel, Jonathon Tucker, Erica Leerhsen and old Leatherface himself, Andrew Bryniarski, discussing character motivations and backgrounds.

Disc two has a great load of brilliant features.

Photo Gallery and Art Gallery have pre-production drawings of both Leatherface and the set design.

The Alternate Beginning and Ending have footage that was originally to book end the feature, with an interesting look into the future of one of the main characters.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre Redux documentary is a 1 hour 17 minute look at every aspect of the remaking process. Interviewing Nispel, Bay and others associated cast and crew, not to mention fan favorite and favorite fan Joe Bob Briggs, also looks at the origins of the original and the crowd reactions both before and after the first screening.

Deleted Scenes are the usual gambit of alternate takes and additional scenes. I must say though, the alternate Morgan Death scene is very visceral.

Ed Gein: The Ghoul of Plainfield is an informative, if not incomplete (they completely overlook the death of Ed's brother in a forest fire and his grave digger assistant) 24 minute documentary about the 'real Leatherface' Ed Gein. Interviews with various historians and psychologists, this is not only an interesting look into the origins of Leatherface (and Norman Bates and Buffalo Bill), it is also a fascinating insight into the mind of serial killers.

Severed Parts (15 minutes 26 seconds) has us take a deeper look at the deleted scenes and bookends and why they were deleted and trimmed for various reasons.

The theatrical Trailer is one of the best cut trailers I have ever seen, with Leatherface not seen until the very end and there is also a selection of TV spots.

The Cast Screen Tests are the screen tests for Jessica Biel, Eric Balfour and Erica Leerhsen.

The Music Video is a track by Motograter called Suffocate.
The Verdict
As far as a great movie/ DVD package is concerned, this Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 Disc set is the best!! A combination of a good movie, with great commentaries and relevant extras that don't appear to be sales propaganda, that sets a new standard for others to aspire to.
Movie Score
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