Viewed – 04 November 2008 DVD
After getting a kick out of the recent big-budget remakes of this once forgotten horror franchise, it was well overdue for me to sit down and check out the one that started it all. Tobe Hooper’s 1974 gritty horror is both still as effective as it undoubtedly was way back when, and stands alone as one of the most truly unnerving movies ever made. Often when looking back on old horrors of the 70s / eighties, time can leave a bit of a dent in their impact, yet this very realistic, and harrowingly believable film still holds a lot of power. Following what has now become a clichéd plot about a group of twenty-somethings travelling through America’s deep south countryside in a camper van, they stumble upon a house after an encounter with a weird hitchhiker. Of course you can imagine what happens next (the story is not really the point here), as said house is inhabited by a family of crazy, hillbilly nut cases! Step forward horror icon Leatherface in all his chainsaw wielding skin-masked glory!!
Now this is not a gore movie – far from it, as 95% of the nasty stuff is suggested or off screen (mostly due to the low budget), and much is left up to your own imagination. It helps too that the ultra-gritty look of the film adds to the atmosphere and with a very scary soundtrack of weird sound effects and music, it is clear the whole point of this film is to leave you trembling and begging for mommy. A deserved classic in the genre.
The DVD I checked out is the newly released ‘Seriously Ultimate Edition’ and is spread across three discs. The first holds the feature in very crisp anamorphic wide screen, with the choices of 1.0 mono, 2.0 stereo or 5.1 surround soundtracks. Add to this two commentaries, one with the director and the other with the cast…both well worth listening to. The other two discs hold a wealth of documentaries, interviews and galleries. Stellar stuff. All presented in a fab steelbook.
Verdict: 5 /5