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10 November, 2007

DVD Review: TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE BEGINNING


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Title: TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE BEGINNING
Year of Release—Film: 2006

Year of Release—DVD: 2007

DVD Label: New Line Home Entertainment

THE MOVIE

Marcus Nispel’s 2003 remake of the classic TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE surprised many fans, including myself, by being a pretty decent little horror film. True, it had more than a few problems… but it also had some impressively large clodhoppers to fill, and it did a credible job of it. If anything, this sequel, directed by Jonathan Liebesman, is even better due to it’s ability to stand alone, without a direct comparison to an iconic original.

In the remake, R. Lee Ermey stole the show as the Sheriff, the head of the Hewitt clan of cannibals and psychopaths. This time, it’s his movie start-to-finish, as we learn the origins of Leatherface and his family. This outing once again finds an unlucky group of teens traveling the dry dusty roads of Texas near the Hewitt family residence. Though it’s tempting to say that this plot device is getting rather treadworn, we should remember that those sequels to the original that diverted from it were less than memorable. Suffice it to say that it works here, and works well.

The cast is decent, though for the most part unrecognizable. The girls are beautiful, the guys handsome, yada, yada, yada. It leads me to believe that there is a stable of maybe ten or twelve twenty-somethings that are waiting around Hollywood to be cast as “Interchangeable Youth #2.” They all look the same, dress the same, talk the same, and, unfortunately, act the same. But no matter… As I said before, this is Ermey’s picture, and he’s in firm control of it.

As to the director… yes, this is the same Jonathan Liebesman who vomited up the absolutely horrendous DARKNESS FALLS, garnering the single-worst review of a film I have ever written. This, his first feature since then, needed to be spectacularly good in order to redeem him in my eyes. I can’t say it completely makes up for those 86 minutes of my life I’ll never regain… but it does come close.



THE DISC

The offering from New Line is what you’d expect from a major player in the Home Entertainment world… slick packaging, top quality, subtitled… in short, a first-class offering.



THE SPECIAL FEATURES

Though the usual specials are here, i.e. the commentary tracks, the deleted scenes, outtakes, and the like, I found it somewhat wanting in this regard… especially in comparison to the superb Platinum Edition DVD that New Line put out for the TCM remake.

Still, there are a few interesting bits here. The behind-the-scenes documentary, DOWN TO THE BONE, is particularly interesting; and at 45 minutes in length, is able to go into sufficient detail to make a worthwhile documentary.

I do hope, however, that New Line chooses to revisit the Platinum Edition format in the future, if not on this film, then on others in their Horror library. While not inexpensive, certainly too pricey for me to consider as an impulse buy, the 2003 TCM Platinum Edition was well worth the cost, and would be in the future, given the right movie.



IN CONCLUSION

Though I expected little from this prequel, I must admit that I was very pleasantly surprised. Don’t get me wrong… Jonathan Liebesman still ranks just a notch or two above Uwe Boll on my list of directors, and I want to see more than one good film from him before that changes. But this movie worked for me, and that’s good enough for now.
With a list price of $28.95, it’s certainly not something I’d say rush right out and buy. But both Amazon and DeepDiscount have it priced significantly lower, and it’s been out long enough to start appearing in Bargain Bins and Used DVD racks. My recommendation is snatch it up… when you find it at a bargain price.

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