If you’ve ever wanted to see Tobe Hooper’s original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, then rejoice. It’s returning to the big screen this summer, courtesy of MPI/Dark Sky Films.
The re-release comes in celebration of the films 40th Anniversary, with the restoration having its unveiling at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas next week.
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.
Taking five months of 40-hour work weeks to complete the color grading and the restoration, NOLO engineer Boris Seagraves stated, “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.
“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,” said Seagraves.
Tobe Hooper stated, “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.”
Now, 40 years after its initial release and coming back home, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre‘s new transfer can be seen with a fresh pair of eyes having its world premiere at SXSW, Monday, March 10th at 9:30pm at the Topfer Theatre.
Details regarding the film’s theatrical re-release this summer will be announced in the coming months.