Celebrate the Fortieth Anniversary of ‘The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’ With a New Restoration

By March 7, 2014
  5

As crowded as the box office is with newbie horror films (especially those of the found footage variety), plenty of them still rip (or, in some cases, remake) right from the traditional horror film canon – so why not go back to their roots and watch an actually original horror film at a theater near you?

To celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre, MPI/Dark Sky Films will re-release the film in select theaters this summer – with an all-new restoration to delight your eyes and chill your flesh – in what should be one of the must-see events of the season. Shock Till You Drop reports that the restoration will be unveiled this week at the SXSW Film Festival, with further details on the summer release to follow.

The outlet also reports that “this is the only transfer of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre to go back to the original 16mm A/B rolls, the actual film that rolled through the cameras. The restoration of the film, overseen by Todd Wieneke of Dark Sky Films, took place at NOLO Digital Film in Chicago with the use of an ARRISCAN Film Scanner.”

texas-chainsaw-massacre-1974

This restoration took five months, and NOLO engineer Boris Seagraves shared with the Shock team,

“This film probably needed the most restoration of any project we’ve done. Having been shot on less expensive 16mm film stock and cheaper, tougher “reversal” stock, (which means there is no negative), the restoration started by taking the original 16mm film that rolled through the cameras and transferred all 120,960 frames to a 4K scan. Scratches, film stains, chemical stains, dirt, torn perforations, rips in the film image and glue splices had to go through a pain-staking correction process frame by frame.”

Seagraves continued,

“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.”

Basically, this thing was a mess, but it looks awesome now.

Details on when the restoration will hit theaters (and where!) are still to come, but we’ll keep our eyes peeled for this one.

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Kate Erbland
Kate Erbland is a staff writer for movie news and reviews at GeekNation. Her work can also be found at Film School Rejects, ScreenCrush, Vanity Fair, The Dissolve, Cosmopolitan, Bustle, amNewYork, New York Daily News, Dame Magazine, Mental Floss, Film.com, MSN Movies, and Boxoffice Magazine. She lives in New York City with two cats, two turtles, one boyfriend, and a frightening number of sensible canvas totes.
  • Roy J Evans

    I took a date to this film back when it was first released and scared the hell out of her!!! This is classic Hooper stuff! It’s cool to see them taking care of a real classic.

    • Your comment right here reminds me of that scene in Taxi Driver where Travis Bickle takes Cybil’s character to that porn film.

  • Michael D Johnston

    Crazy mad cool. I had the pleasure of meeting Gunnar Hansen (leatherface) from the original. A great guy. Will definitely go to this one again.

  • Ernest B Ingalls

    Go Leatherface!! If rooting for the villain makes me wrong, I don’t want to be right. the frantic off kilter shots in the film were really unnerving which made the film great. Unfortunately as did the very things they are fixing.

  • Andrew L Gonzalez

    The grainy, cut up feel of the flick only added to the film’s character. It added so much. Please be careful what you try to fix. That maybe the thing that endures it to people.