Director: Tobe Hooper
Screenplay: Kim Henkel and Tobe Hooper
Starring: Marilyn Burns, Paul A. Partain, Edwin Neal, Jim Siedow and Gunnar Hansen
Year: 1974
Duration: 83 min
Country: USA
BBFC Certification: 18

When it comes to Tobe Hooper’s 1974 classic The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, where do you begin? It’s a film that helped originate the slasher sub-genre, alongside Bob Clark’s Black Christmas, released the same year and John Carpenter’s Halloween just a few years later. It was an indie success story, only costing $140,000 and grossing over $30 million (adjusted for inflation today, that’s roughly $150 million) as well as bringing Hooper into the public eye. It’s a film that most, myself included, consider to be one of (if not) the greatest horror pictures of all time. It’s a film rich with interesting themes and subtext, whether it’s Hooper’s commentary on  vegetarianism or violence against women in media, you can dig into this film, peel back all of the layers and discover a lot under the surface.  

To start, I want to touch on my first experience watching it. It was around four years ago, I went in knowing the general gist of the film, knowing the iconography of Leatherface and the chainsaw, that’s about it. I expected a rough, cheap and sloppy slasher and instead found myself utterly flawed by the filmmaking on display. I was shocked by how more in line with art cinema the film was instead of the Friday the 13th films it would go on to inspire. I’d argue that Texas Chain Saw has more in common with David Lynch’s Eraserhead than the aforementioned Friday the 13th films. The documentarian feel to the events playing out. The sound design that gets right under your skin. The screeching sound of that camera. The screams from all of the victims of the Sawyer family. But the part that stuck with me the most? Those last twenty minutes. Everything that happens once Sally is brought to the Sawyer house is nothing short of a nightmare, not just for viewers but also for the cast and crew involved during filming. It’s such a grimy, exhausting and upsetting sequence of events that’s never left my mind since my first viewing. Even after watching thousands of films in my life, nothing had ever quite shook me to my core in the way that The Texas Chain Saw Massacre had, and that’s as somebody watching for the first time 45 years after it had been unleashed into theatres across the world. I was lucky enough to see it in the cinema about two years ago and it felt just as terrifying watching it with an audience as it did watching at home alone. To say that The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a horror masterclass would be a huge understatement, it’s a film that stands the test of time in almost every way. 

Although it was only his second feature, Hooper knew what he’s doing behind the camera and every shot in this film is photographed flawlessly. Sometimes you’re looking at a perfectly composed shot, and other times you feel like you’re watching a snuff film, as you follow this cast of characters along a journey that ends in their demise. Characters include Sally, Franklin, Pam and Jerry, all of which are perfect vehicles for the audience to experience the events that take place. For those looking for rich, well-defined characters, you won’t find that here but with its brisk 83 minute runtime, there’s never a moment that feels wasted. 

We follow our group of protagonists as they embark on a road trip across Texas, stopping off at a family house owned by Sally and Franklin. While some stay at the house, others venture off in search of gas until they discover another house. Upon entering, they’re greeted by one of the most terrifying horror villains of all time, Leatherface. Gunnar Hansen’s performance as an undeveloped husk of a man whose only want throughout the film is to not be disturbed is as captivating as it is horrifying. Wearing masks created out of the skin of his victims, wielding his trademark chainsaw and placing intruders on meat hooks, it’s easy to see why Leatherface became such a cultural icon in horror cinema. 

Although Hooper originally intended for the film to be a dark comedy, audiences around the world didn’t find the humour in his horror film. Banned in the UK for twenty years, required cuts of multiple minutes of Hooper’s original cut to receive an ‘R’ rating in the US, the film had (and still does have) a reputation that it was something vile, depraved and unsafe for the general public. Of course, fast-forward to today and the film is uncut in the UK and is easily accessible for everybody, but this wasn’t the case when it first came out. It’s a fate that would follow the sequel too, also being banned in the UK for fifteen years. The legacy of the film is touched on in many of the extras included in this Second Sight release, so I’ll let you discover all of the interesting facts about the film yourself, but there’s a reason why this film is still talked about to this very day.

It’s hard to really say anything new that hasn’t already been said about The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. It’s the defining horror film of its generation. It’s easily stood the test of time. Even though I greatly enjoy the follow up, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part II, it’s a completely different beast entirely, focusing way more on the dark-humour side of things and upping the ante on gore, violence and what audiences probably expected from the original. Instead, they got a nuanced film that holds back on the gore, nudity and cursing and replaces it with something that no censor board could feasibly remove from the film. Unflinching terror. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get Sally’s screams out of my head. That final shot will stay with me forever. It’s the type of film that only comes around once in a lifetime and if you haven’t watched it yet, I implore you to seek out The Texas Chain Saw Massacre as long as you can stomach the tension and sheer terror on display. An utter masterclass in not just horror filmmaking, but cinema itself.


The Texas Chain Saw Massacre released on April 10th, 2023 from Second Sight Films. There’s a standard edition Blu-ray, a standard edition UHD and a 3 disc Limited Edition with both Blu-ray and UHD discs. I checked out the Blu-ray version of the film, and I must say, the transfer looks great here. It’s a noticeable improvement from the previous release from Second Sight back in 2014. The colours pop a lot more, even in 1080p SDR so I can only imagine what the film looks like on UHD with HDR implemented. There’s a consistently healthy bit-rate, with scenes hovering between 35Mbps to 43Mbps in some sequences. Second Sight really delivers a stellar transfer that will please both Blu-ray and UHD users alike. I wasn’t provided with the art-cards or the 190 page book that’s included in the Limited Edition, but if it’s anything like the physical goodies included in Second Sight’s other releases, I’m sure that they’ll be of the highest quality possible. 

Special Features 

  • 3 disc edition – 1 UHD and 2 Blu-rays with bonus features on both formats
  • A new presentation featuring additional restoration work
  • UHD presented in Dolby Vision HDR produced by Second Sight Films
  • Audio tracks include new Dolby Atmos and restored original mono mix produced by Second Sight Films
  • New Audio commentary by Amanda Reyes and Bill Ackerman
  • Audio commentary with Writer-Producer-Director Tobe Hooper
  • Audio commentary with Cinematographer Daniel Pearl, Editor J. Larry Carroll, Sound Recordist Ted Nicolaou
  • Audio commentary with Writer-Producer-Director Tobe Hooper, Cinematographer Daniel Pearl, Actor Gunnar Hansen
  • Audio commentary with Actors Marilyn Burns, Allen Danziger and Paul A. Partain, and Art Director Robert A. Burns
  • The Legacy of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre – a new feature length documentary produced by Second Sight Films
  • Behind The Mask: Alexandra Heller-Nicholas on The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
  • The Shocking Truth documentary, plus outtakes
  • Cutting Chain Saw with Editor J. Larry Carroll
  • Granpaw’s Tales with Actor John Dugan
  • Horror’s Hallowed Grounds
  • Flesh Wounds: Seven Stories of The Saw
  • Off The Hook with Actor Teri McMinn
  • The Business of Chain Saw with Production Manager Ron Bozman
  • House Tour with Actor Gunnar Hansen
  • Tobe Hooper interview
  • Kim Henkel interview
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Outtakes
  • Trailers
  • TV and Radio Spots
  • Stills Gallery

Limited Edition Contents

  • Rigid slipcase with original classic UK VHS artwork
  • 190 page hardback book with new essays by ​​Heather Buckley, Tim Coleman, Martyn Conterio, Miranda Corcoran, Heather Drain, Lee Gambin, Caden Mark Gardner, Lindsay Hallam, Cerise Howard, Kimberly Lindbergs, Annie Rose Malamet, Maitland McDonagh, Neil Mitchell, Jerome Reuter and Robert Skvarla, illustrated by Adam Stothard
  • 6 collectors’ art cards 

If you’re a fan of audio commentaries, Second Sight has you covered here with five (yes, five!) tracks. The first is new to this release, a track from Amanda Reyes and Bill Ackerman. You also get four archival tracks, starting with a solo track by Tobe Hooper. Next is one with the cinematographer Daniel Pearl, the editor J. Larry Carroll and the sound recordist Ted Nicolaou. After that, you have one with Tobe Hooper, cinematographer Daniel Pearl and actor Gunnar Hansen. And finally, there’s one with actors Marilyn Burns, Allen Danziger, Paul A. Partain and art director Robert A. Burns. 

The Legacy of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a brand-new feature length documentary produced by Second Sight for this release that runs for 82 minutes. There’s interviews with directors such as Fede Álvarez (2013’s Evil Dead), Jamie Blanks (Urban Legend) and Marcus Nispel (2003’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), film critics and others in the horror industry who talk about the impact the film had on them when they first saw it, as well as its legacy in the horror genre. There’s time spent on the restraint from Hooper on actually showing violence, and how it made the interviewees feel during their first viewings, as well as how the film feels almost like an evil fairy-tale. Out of all of the new extras, this was easily my favourite and is worth the purchase alone.

Behind The Mask is an 8 minute video essay by writer Alexandra Heller-Nicholas that’s an interesting little addition to this release. Heller-Nicholas dives deep into the origins of masks in horror, highlighting five different types of masks in the horror genre and what each mask means for characters in horror films. It’s always nice to hear Heller-Nicholas dive deep into a film and parts of me wishes this was a bit longer, as it feels like it’s over when it starts ramping up, but it’s still a good watch nonetheless. 

The Shocking Truth is a 72 minute documentary from 2000 about the making of the film. It covers all grounds, from how the armadillo shot came to be, as well as a brief history on the state of horror cinema around the time TCM was being made. It’s a truly fantastic documentary, with interviews from practically everybody associated with the film and for fans of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, the horror genre or the art of filmmaking itself, this is a must-watch. Also included are outtakes from the documentary, which run for almost 8 minutes. 

Flesh Wounds: Seven Stories of The Saw is another archival feature-length documentary that runs for 71 minutes. It focuses on seven separate stories from individuals associated with the film such as Gunnar Hansen and Ed Neal. There’s a really sweet tribute dedicated to Paul A. Partain (Franklin), Jim Siedow (Drayton Sawyer) and Robert A. Burns (production designer). While not as engaging or informative as The Shocking Truth, it’s still a good watch. 

Cutting Chain Saw is an interview with editor J. Larry Carroll that runs around 10 minutes long. He recounts meeting Tobe Hooper, his experiences with the cast and crew and also speaks about how hot the shoot was. Carroll’s later editing and directing work is also touched on. A short but interesting interview.

Grandpa’s Tales is an interview with John Dugan, who plays Grandpa Sawyer. It runs around 16 minutes long, and he speaks about how Tobe was more of a visual director, focused on getting the right shots and writer Kim Henkel being more of a “character director.” He recounts the dinner scene and its gruelling 26 hour shoot, as well as giving anecdotes about the cast and crew. Finally, he touches on the legacy of the film. Another solid interview. 

Horror’s Hallowed Grounds is an episode from the TV series of the same name, hosted by Sean Clark that runs for around 20 minutes. He revisits the filming locations of the film and gives a brief history on each location. Places he visits include the graveyard, the barbeque shack and the Sawyer house, which was turned into a barbeque shack itself. The presentation leaves a lot to be desired, with poor sound and camerawork during some interviews and there’s some skits that didn’t really work for me, but it’s still nice to see some of the locations over 30 years later. Only for the die-hard fans.

House Tour with Gunnar Hansen is an archival featurette that’s 8 minutes long and features Leatherface actor Gunnar Hansen giving a house tour of the original Sawyer house. I preferred this to the Horror’s Hallowed Grounds featurette as Hansen shares interesting facts about the production and is far more concise and to the point. A fun watch for fans of the film.

Off The Hook is an interview with actor Teri McMinn that runs around 17 minutes. There’s some interesting discussion points, such as the shot on the swing-set and her encounter with Leatherface. Another solid interview.

The Business of Chain Saw in another interesting interview with production manager Ron Bozman that runs for 16 minutes. The low-budget nature of the film is discussed, talking about how the crew consisted mostly of first-timers, as well as touching on the hot weather during production. He speaks about how the owner of one set was growing a marijuana farm which shocked Bozman. A worthwhile watch.

The archival interviews from Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel are good watches. Tobe discusses all aspects of the production, such as the family, the locations of the house and the woods as well as the mixing/editing process and the reception overall. Hearing Hooper talk about how they filmed the chase scene by using different lenses and camera angles was fascinating. The Kim Henkel interview touches on the inspiration for the concept and the sequels. 

There’s around 40 minutes of deleted scenes and outtakes presented with no sound due to production issues. A two minute blooper reel is also included and it’s a quick and fun watch. After hearing about the almost painful experiences that most had on set, it’s nice to see the cast and crew having fun during filming. An assortment of trailers and TV spots are included, including a 40th anniversary trailer and some archival trailers. Two radio spots are also included, running for 30 seconds each. The stills gallery runs for around 2 and a half minutes and contains production photos.

Second Sight went above and beyond packing this release to the brim with five audio commentaries, three documentaries, interviews, trailers, a video essay, deleted scenes and so much more that any fan of the film will be more than pleased with what’s on offer. I think it’s fair to say that with this release, Second Sight have produced the definitive release of Hooper’s masterpiece. A must-own package and essential purchase for fans of the film or amazing home media releases.


Where to watch Texas Chainsaw Massacre
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre - Second Sight
Reader Rating: (2 Votes)

2 Responses

  1. MovieFeast

    Good review Leon. This is indeed a classic film, remember seeing the dvd in HMV many moons ago and had to buy it, very memorable movie, must rewatch and review it soon.

    • Leon Vegas

      Thank you! I hope you enjoy the film on a rewatch as much as I did.


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