Friday, March 7, 2014
THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE Gets Restored For Summer Theatrical Release!
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is one of the top tier horror films in my life. There is no one single film that turned me onto the genre; it was a combined effort in which TCM played an integral part. It showed me the terror beyond Satan, ghosties and ghouls; it showed me the very real terror of the atrocities that human beings are capable of.
Yesterday news broke that, in honor of the films 40th anniversary, the original 16mm film that it was shot on has been transferred to a beautiful 4K scan. Taking a staggering 5 months, of 40-hour workweeks, to complete the restoration, Boris Seagraves (engineer at NOLO) stated, “This film probably needed the most restoration of any project we’ve done.”
It was originally filmed on 16mm film, which was not exactly the best quality of film at the time, and also meant that there was no negative. The result was hodge podge of rough splices, dirt spots, scratches and film stains. Seagraves went on to say, “There were hundreds, if not thousands, of instances where you’d find a splice mark cooked into the middle of a frame. Some frames would have close to two hundred dirt events on them. We also spent a lot of time stabilizing the image. When doing a digital scan of a conformed 16mm print with a splice at every cut, it can be tough to achieve the high standards we all aspire to in the era of digital cinema. What might have passed as acceptable in the 70′s looks jarring now. So we worked hard to smooth out the tremors that almost inevitably occur when scanning this type of film element. There were tears in the film that we had to digitally rebuild from adjacent frames. There were tens of thousands of things we were dealing with."
Tobe Hooper, director of TCM, was heavily involved in not only the video restoration but the audio as well. I am much more excited about this aspect than that of the video, however Hooper says that the film has never looked better: “I haven’t seen The Texas Chain Saw Massacre on the big screen for many, many years. This 40th anniversary restoration is absolutely the best the film has ever looked. The color and clarity is spectacular, displaying visual details in the film that were never before perceptible. The newly remastered 7.1 soundtrack breathes new life and energy into the film. I am very much looking forward to audiences experiencing this film as they never have before.”
The prospect of seeing this film on the big screen for the first time, as always, excites me like no other. There is something about this film that will also send a tickle of excitement down my spine. I don't think I'll ever forget how excited I was when I held that VHS in my hands for the first time; it was this taboo thing that I had heard of, this film that shocked the world. To be completely honest, I don't know how I feel about the restoration of the video. Part of what makes this film are all those dirt spots and scratches and inconsistencies. It makes the film seem quasi-voyeuristic, like Leatherface himself spliced the film together as a deranged monument to his family. At the same time, it's very exciting to know that steps are being made to ensure that this film is never lost with time. I couldn't be more excited about the audio restoration though. That makes a horror film, and one like this in 7.1 surround sound in a crowded movie theater sounds like heaven.
The restoration will premiere at this years SXSW Film Festival, and news of the theatrical release this summer will break in the coming months.