The Good

If you want scares as well as good looking people being mutilated, this film will certainly satisfy your desire for gore.

The Bad

I think they should maybe leave this franchise alone.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning is a new take on the character of Leatherface in that it looks at his life in the form of a prequel beginning in 1969. When the meat packing plant that Thomas Hewitt works at is closed, the foreman is brutally murdered by Mr. Hewitt and if the character of Leatherface isn't born, he is at least instigated. This coincides with two guys (Dean and Eric) and two girls (Chrissie and Bailey) on a roadtrip before the men are sent off to Vietnam. Well, they just happen to get into an accident that renders their car useless. At this point in the film, they are "helped out" by Sheriff Hoyt who kills one of the other people involved in the accident and then makes some of them get inside his squad car. What Hoyt doesn't know is that the accident previously threw one of the kids from the car and she has witnessed everything.

The kids soon realize that they aren't going to a normal jail but are actually fodder for Thomas Hewitt/Leatherface so he work on his killing skills. Meanwhile, the girl who wasn't picked up by the sheriff ends up joining forces with one of the other people who was involved in the original accident. This soon turns into a game of cat and mouse where we think our characters are safe, but it's all an illusion because the people they are up against aren't people at. They are killing machines of the highest order and this game is all a part of their sick brand of fun.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning isn't original, so much as it's scares don't feel like anything we've felt before even though we have.

Features

Commentary Track

Director Jonathan Liebesman and producers Andrew Form and Brad Fuller do the honors here. I don't totally know what I was expecting, but these guys do a very capable job of recounting how this movie was made. They discuss the the cast, the locations, the shooting conditions, and they really seem like they do their best to make this track as comprehensive and informative as possible. I thought it was interesting when they talked about pulling off the gore scenes, mainly because so much of that relies not on what was shot but was isn't revealed in the editing. Overall, a decent track to supplement this film.

Deleted and Extended Scenes

These scenes were either removed from the movie for time reasons, or they are longer versions of specific scenes that were trimmed to make the movie play smoother. There is a decent amount on this DVD, but for some reason I thought that a movie like this, which is really geared toward the fans, would have been overflowing with bonus stuff. There is also an optional commentary track in which we can hear musings from the creative forces behind this film. If you have already listened to the commentary above, you can get away without having to listen to this.

"Down to the Bone"

This segment is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of this movie. I only gave this a cursory glance mainly because I didn't think I was going to hear anything that special. Once again, a movie that is essentially a revamping of another movie, and then altered so as to appear like something completely new is not really something you need to delve too much into. They talk with the cast members, the director, and other creative types, but nobody says anything we haven't heard before.

Video

Widescreen. 1.85:1 - Aspect Ratio. This film looked very good and something tells me that director Jonathan Liebesman hails from the music video world. Thankfully, this movie didn't beat us over the head with a lot of unnecessary post production inflected images. It really played things straight for the most part, and that is why the scares in this movie still managed to pack a punch. Another thing that also grabbed my attention was this movie tried not to telegraph things. By virtue of the title, we all know what direction this movie is going in but I do give them credit for not holding our hands too much.

Audio

Dolby Digital 5.1 EX - English. DTS 6.1 ES Discrete - English. This movie sounded good. I thought they may have missed an opportunity to really use the audio to get inside the characters heads, however. In horror movies, to have the sound be low in certain scenes is great device, and sometimes it seemed like things of that nature could have been done a lot more. Overall, the sound is decent and this movie will probably be a hit with the home theater set or next generation enthusiasts.

Package

The mask of Leatherface is prominently featured on this front cover. What is really attention grabbing is the way that the colors are utilized. As there is a vinyl covering that goes over the DVD, it is actually different from the regular amaray case. The vinyl detachable one has quotes on the back from some websites, while the the one on the DVD proper has a description of the movie, some pictures, a Special Features list, a cast list and technical specs. For some reason I thought this movie would warrant a bigger release, but I guess I will take what New Line is offering. After all, this franchise sells itself, right?

Final Word

While I enjoyed watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (who wouldn't enjoy a movie with Jordana Brewster?), I somewhat think that maybe they shouldn't revive certain genres. What seems to have happened is that horror movies have proven to be such a financial boon to many studio's wallets, so now we are getting a wave of them and studios that already have established commodities figure why not cash in. While I can't say I blame them, I sort of wonder if it cheapens the franchise somehow? While I think that the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a movie that can't be maligned no matter what people do to the overall story, I do think that maybe companies need to be more original.

Afterall, you can only go to the well so many times. There have only been so many horror movies that were really successful. If they spent the amount of time they spend retooling really good older movies, and used that to generate new products and franchises, I think everybody would benefit. More actors would get work, more writers and directors would get jobs, and studios would have more films they sequelize, retool and make money off of for years to come. So basically, I will say that if you are a fan of horror movies or this franchise, than you should certainly give this movie a look. The only problem is that I didn't feel at any moment I don't know what was going to happen.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning was released October 6, 2006.