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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
    English - Hearing Impaired
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Animated menus

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

Roadshow Entertainment/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 94 mins . MA15+ . PAL


When the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre was released in 1974 it shocked the world. Classed as the first slasher flick, it received condemnation for its graphic imagery. 30 years later, this original is seen as somewhat of a joke by many and by today’s standards would be lucky to raise more than a laugh or two from seasoned horror fans. Would this latest remake be as scary as its original counterpart or would it be just another teen slasher flick with boobs and blood? Sure, there are teens and some of them have boobs and, of course, there are gallons of blood, but the one small difference between this film and the countless others in the genre currently is that this is scary; quite disturbing in fact.

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Need a lift?

For those unfamiliar with the story, here is a brief synopsis of what was inspired by a true story, another fact that makes it even more disturbing. It is August 1973 and five teenagers have just spent four days in Mexico. They purchased some pot, drank plenty of tequila and are now heading to Dallas for a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert. While driving along a country road they stumble across a teenage girl wandering aimlessly. They stop to offer help and she gets into the van with them. Saying things like “they’re all dead” and other niceties she seems fairly calm until she spies a familiar road sign and freaks. Pulling out a concealed gun, she simply puts it in her mouth and pulls the trigger. The five teenagers can’t believe what has just happened and race to find help. They stop at a gas station and call the sheriff who asks them to meet him at the local mill so, with the body still sitting in the back seat, they head off to the mill.

Erin (Jessica Biel) and her boyfriend Kemper (Eric Six Feet Under Balfour) get tired of waiting for the sheriff and decide to go look for a house with a phone. Morgan (Jonathon Tucker), Pepper (Erica Leerhsen) and Andy (Mike Vodgel) decide to wait with the van in case the sheriff shows up. Erin and Kemper find a house and the old wheelchair-bound Monty (Terrence Evans) agrees to let Erin use the phone. The house has a dark secret though, it houses a family of hillbillies that don’t take well to strangers. The strangest resident of the house is Thomas Hewitt (aka Leatherface) who has suffered since birth from a skin disease. Sheriff Hoyt (R. Lee Ermey) soon appears on the scene at the mill but offers little assistance. The teenagers are torn between doing the right thing or just taking off and getting to the concert.

"You’re a little tense - you need to relax!"

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Where did we leave the Scooby van?

Without giving too much away, what follows is an engrossing horror film with the teenagers one by one encountering the sadistic Leatherface and his family of sick crossbred weirdos. The thought of remaking a classic horror film with today’s budgets and special effects technology is not always a good thing and there was definitely a fear that this would be a rehash of the cult classic rather than a new and improved version. Thankfully the producers have made enough changes and with a superb cast of youngsters with terrific acting ability and some magnificent cinematography, this is a stand-alone horror film of the highest order.

Put simply, if you are a fan of the original or of the slasher flick genre, this is a must see. All the qualities of the original are here along with a better script delivered by a better cast, beautifully shot with some nice visual effects. This reviewer is not easily scared, but after watching this one there was a need to stick on a comedy afterwards to avoid any nightmares. Of the highest quality by today’s standards in this genre and truly disturbing, this is highly recommended.


Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and 16:9 enhanced, this transfer is close to reference quality. Sharpness is spot on and grain is non-existent and for a film with a lot of night scenes, this is a terrific achievement. The colour palette is intentionally dull, giving the feel of a country town, and is delivered well with terrific depth of blacks. There is plenty of blood and this is a realistic deep red, skin tones are also natural throughout. All other nasties such as aliasing, film artefacts and edge enhancement are extremely minimal and cause no interference to the viewing pleasure. Subtitles are supplied in English for the hearing impaired and these are thorough and accurate to what occurs on screen.


Audio comes in a choice of Dolby Digital stereo and DD 5.1 surround and both are very good. The 5.1 mix is, as expected, the track of choice and this offers a well-balanced audio mix with some wonderful use of directional effect. Dialogue is always clear and the surrounds are utilised well for atmosphere as well as directional sound, really giving the viewer an enveloping experience. There are no problems with synch and the subwoofer gets called into action on many occasions for the “jump out of your skin” scenes as well as adding some nice bass to the accompanying musical score.


This is where this release gets disappointing, containing only one solitary extra. The theatrical trailer runs for 2:13 and is letterboxed with no 16:9 enhancement and only Dolby Digital stereo sound. The Region 1 release of this film contains a ton of extras but for some reason the Region 4 market misses out yet again.


Fans of the original film and quality horror films in general will love this film. It is not about the pretty girl baring her breasts until she is finally killed, it is a good story with a strong cast and a quality production. The video and audio transfers are superb, but the extras bin is close to empty.

There are three warnings that should be offered with this film; don’t let your kids see it, don’t watch it alone and make sure you watch a comedy straight after or you may struggle sleeping.

  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=3861
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      And I quote...
    "This is a terrific remake of the 1973 classic that is truly disturbing – highly recommended."
    - Adrian Turvey
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Sony DVP-NS305
    • TV:
          AKAI CT-29S55AT 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Sony STR-DE685
    • Speakers:
          Sony SAVE815ED
    • Centre Speaker:
          Sony SAVE815ED
    • Surrounds:
          Sony SAVE815ED
    • Subwoofer:
          Sony SAVE815ED
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