The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006) - Unrated Edition

Genre(s): Horror
New Line || Unrated - 95 minutes - $28.98 || January 16, 2007
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2007-01-16


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Writer(s): Sheldon Turner and David J. Schow (screenplay), Sheldon Turner (story)
Cast: Jordana Brewster, Taylor Handley, Diora Baird, Matt Bomer, R. Lee Ermey


Theatrical Release Date: October 6, 2006


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Feature Commentary
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes
  • "Down to the Bone" Behind-the-Scenes Documentary
  • Theatrical Trailer


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (1.85)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1 EX), English (DTS 6.1 ES), English (Stereo Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

When New Line decided to remake the cult classic The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in 2003, many were outraged. Personally, I could’ve cared less but with the ever growing lack of originality that comes out of Hollywood today, I did have some reservations. Now, after seeing the remake, I actually didn’t mind it all too much. Yes, that might come off as blasphemous and even more so when I say I didn’t find the 1974 original all that scary. It had its moments of fear and dark humor but I really didn’t “get” the appeal. Now, perhaps seeing so many horror-thrillers over the years I have become jaded with violence and gore and have some sort of misinterpreted understanding on what horror is...

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake was actually a decent horror flick with a nice stylish undertone from first-time feature director Marcus Nispel. Three years later they’re back with the prequel: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning where the beginnings of the much feared Leatherface’s origins are revealed. It was in a small 1939 Texas town slaughterhouse that this psychotic serial killer was dropped (literally) into this world and after the plant closed down 30 years later that Leatherface found his true calling...

Meanwhile, two 20-something couples (Brewster, Bomer, Handley, Baird) are traveling through Texas in one last trip before the men are to be sent to Vietnam. During the trip, the group runs into a wild pack of bikers and manages to crash their jeep. The self-proclaimed sheriff of the town (Ermey), only because he and his family are the only one’s left, takes three of them into custody (the fourth got thrown from the vehicle) and something tells me that they’re not just going to be dinner guests. You know the rest of the drill, various characters are tortured, chopped up and/or run from the chainsaw-wielding madman.

As I already mentioned, I actually didn’t mind the 2003 version too much. Maybe it was because of the beautiful Jessica Biel and her low-riders. You’ll be happy to know that the low-riders make another appearance on Jordana Brewster’s equally hot body. However, this prequel wasn’t scary in the least. Instead, I was more disgusted than anything and with the releases of the Saw franchises and Hostel, it was obvious that the gore and violence factor had to be ramped up, and ramped up it did. Who would’ve thought Leatherface putting a victim up on a hook was tame by comparison to what I saw here. I can normally handle violence but this actually made my stomach churn (though I had just eaten so...).

One thing I will give credit to these horror movies for is (re-)introducing us to some new talent like Jordana Brewster (who hasn’t done much since The Fast and the Furious), Matthew Bomer, Taylor Handley and Diora Baird (a new scream queen). Like the 2003 TCM, the cast looks good together even if the characters they play aren’t all that interesting yet they manage to deliver decent performances despite some unoriginal dialogue taken from a horror-genre manuscript.

I can usually find the bright spot in bad movies and maybe some of these young actors will find their way in success much like Jessica Biel (becoming a serious actress) or Eric Balfour (now a regular on “24”). Director Jonathan Liebesman makes his sophomore effort after Darkness Falls and where Nispel displayed a knack for setting up a horrific atmosphere, I’m not sure of Liebesman had that same talent, although he does produce one lone shot (about 45 seconds) going around a dinner table, so getting that done seemed to be an accomplishment.

I really didn’t get that spooked by the house or its insane inhabitants but maybe time will tell whether Liebesman has a future because with Beginning he shows the talent of getting off a (now) TCM staple of low-rider close-up shots (this time the low-rider wearing hottie is crawling).

I guess I also found little interest in how Leatherface came to be. The filmmakers tried to show how he began and why he's such a deranged killer and yet I honestly didn't care nor did I care about any of these characters that barely get any kind of development to allow the viewer to care if they lived or died.

All the torture and violence made this movie so unbearable that I cannot imagine nor do I want to come across someone who would actually want to see this more than once. Combine the disgusting and repulsive nature; it makes things worse when the movie ends with a head-slapping, groan-inducing climatic scene that makes little or no sense.


As for the “unrated” aspects, having never seen the theatrical version, I don’t know what was included. The runtime for this unrated cut is actually 95-minutes (w/ credits) and 91-minutes (w/o credits). The official runtime of the theatrical version runs around 89-minutes.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Packaging: The disc is enclosed in a standard keep case and comes with an embossed slipcover that is different from the regular DVD cover. The back of the slip case just has a quite from one review and the regular back has the features and audio/picture details. I actually prefer the original DVD cover but the slipcover one is certainly creepy enough to get horror fans to buy this off the shelf.

New Line put together a great package last time with multiple commentary tracks and other features spread across two-discs. This release isn’t as in-depth but still is OK when compared to other DVDs.

Feature Commentary - Director Jonathan Liebesman and producers Brad Fuller and Andrew Form provide an interesting track filled with trivia factoids and other items that might interest fans. I’m not sure, but I think they were recorded together but at times it seems like Liebesman was separate from the other two. Either way, the track isn’t a good ‘ole fun time but you get an idea on how they made the movie.

Deleted/Extended Scenes (13:09) - Two deleted, two extended and three alternate endings are included with an optional commentary and can be viewed individually or all together. The four deleted or extended scenes have footage already incorporated with bits cut; one was the introduction of the two couple’s intros done separately rather than inter-cut. The three alternate endings aren’t all that different from the original. One was done in case John Larroquette wasn’t available to record the final dialogue and instead text was used. Nothing groundbreaking but also nothing wrong with including them.

“Down to the Bone” Behind-the-Scenes Documentary (45:02) - This documentary is split into five parts: Origin of Evil, Invitation to a Slaughter, Lone Star Rendezvous, Carnage Unleashed and The Chopping Block. The five-parts cover everything about the production from writing the script, casting each part, set design, director style, special effects and other items. The cast and crew talk about making the prequel and offer some insight. It’s decently packed with information and at 45-minutes, you do get to see how certain scenes were done. Not an all-encompassing behind-the-scenes featurette, but still worthwhile.

The original theatrical trailer and sneak peek trailers at The Number 23, Snakes on a Plane, Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny, The Butterfly Effect 2, Undisputed II, The Reaping and 300.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

One thing New Line rarely disappoints is in their sound department. You have the choice between Dolby Digital 5.1, the superior DTS 6.1 -- every movie with reliance on sound effects should include this mix -- and Dolby stereo surround. I went back and forth between the Dolby 5.1 and DTS 6.1 and the latter obviously has more depth though when it comes to dialogue, there wasn’t much difference. Mt default choice is DTS but if you don’t have the proper decoder, you’ll be fine with the Dolby mix.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning is presented in anamorphic widescreen, 1.85 OAR and all looks just like the director wanted. The picture is dark and grimy with any details left in shadows (especially in the case of Leatherface). As far as I can tell, the transfer looks perfect.



.::OVERALL::.

The horror genre will only get bloodier as each one will try to outdo the next. It’s not enough to see body limbs getting chopped off and buckets of blood being strewed all over the place, so I can only imagine how much more disgusting this will get by the time Saw X or Hostel: Part 5 comes out in 2013... I honestly don’t mind horror movies so this isn’t coming from moral place or anything, I just wish a solid, scary story could be told rather than resorting to shocking an audience.

In terms of DVD quality, it’s a good release though I would’ve liked an extra commentary track or two with the cast and other crew members. As it stands, if you actually enjoyed this movie (and I only hope I don’t run into you in a dark alley), then by all means, pick it up. Personally, I cannot see myself actually watching this again.