I can't even begin to explain how upset I was when I found out the horror classic "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" was being remade. Michael Bay's name being attached just added fuel to the fire. Then I saw the trailer. Leave it to the guys in marketing to release a trailer that gives doubt to the doubters. After a successful theatrical run and a couple of good DVD releases, New Line has brought "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" redux to UMD. I grabbed my PSP and gave it a spin.
After seeing "The Devil's Rejects", it is tough to swallow this glossed over horror movie. Gone is the grit and claustrophobic feeling of Tobe Hooper's original thriller, replaced by some CCR music and marketable faces. I can see how ""The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" has more of a universal appeal with its 2003 release. In a day where box office receipts and DVD/UMD sales reign supreme, this flick has a good formula for success. I just can't shake my disappointment in taking advantage of name recognition to stimulate buzz. "American Psycho 2" did the same thing. From a marketing standpoint it is genius, from a fans standpoint it is misleading. I will always watch this movie with certain expectations that will never be met. A tweak here and there and you have a fairly original horror movie that could have found similar success. Using a name that helped find an audience may backfire as time goes by. Moviegoers will more than likely opt for the one that started it all, rather than the one that kept things going.
The 1.85:1 original aspect ratio is a sight to behold. The level of detail is amazing, even in the various night scenes. You can see the wear and tear on mobile homes and count leaves on a tree even under minimal lighting conditions. The earthy colors are complimented with great flesh tones. While a lot of horror UMD's seem to have trouble on the PSP with their night scenes, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" holds up well. I never lost any of the picture quality under normal room lighting. The overall viewing experience is very positive with this title.
Sound is an area where some personal tweaking may be necessary. The faceplate speakers on the PSP just don't have enough power to bring "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" to life. They minimize the impact of the music and leave the rattling sounds of a chainsaw sounding like a lawnmower at a house five doors down. Some good earphones or amplified speakers will give the sound much needed depth. The deep bass and overpowering chainsaw are necessary for the movie to work. The inexpensive i.sound speakers can help enhance the sound and add some much needed oomph.
I can't believe there are three commentaries on this UMD. Labeled as audio essays, the commentaries are titled "Production", "Technical", and "Story". Each one was ported over from New Line's DVD and features quite a few crew/cast members discussing the film. "Production" gets crew perspective, with Michael Bay included in the commentary. The subject primarily revolves around casting, budgets, and the look director Marcus Nispel was going for. I thought this would be the dry commentary, but it was very informative and well paced. "Technical" is similar to the "Production" commentary, but focuses more on cinematography. There is more technical information (go figure) and it describes how the movie achieved its unique look. "Story" gets perspective from various cast members along with some of the crew, so it is a bit more lighthearted. Sticking to specifics, each of the commentaries hold up well by not doubling or tripling up on information. The trio of tracks will provide depth to the movie and give audio education on the production of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre". Also included is a short documentary titled "Severed Parts". It is a great twist on the usual deleted scene montages that most DVD's feature, giving not only scenes off of the cutting room floor, but information about them as well. There is also an option to watch the seven scenes individually. Rounding out the dual-layered UMD are trailers for "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", "Freddy Vs. Jason", "The Butterfly Effect", and "Blade". Add an easy to navigate menu, and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" UMD is a great release.
From a technical standpoint, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" is a great UMD. It has excellent picture and sound, and provides a wealth of information over three commentaries. New Line is quickly becoming one of my favorite UMD distributors, supporting the format by giving consumers more bang for their buck. The movie is certainly the question mark here. For casual horror movie fans, this movie will probably be a great watch. For those of you who are diehard horror fans, this retelling has little more than some crafty shots and a few good scenes. If you have seen the movie and like it, this UMD is easy to recommend.