Texas Chain Saw Massacre, 40 years old and newly restored


I’m genuinely interested to see what detail is revealed from 16mm by 4K scanning.


Doesn’t a fancy restoration and surround sound kind of run counter to the film’s aesthetic? It’s grindhouse, it’s meant to be seen at a drive-in or a seedy 1970s Times Square theater.


That’s what I’d think. The last thing you’d want from Texas Chain Saw Massacre is MORE detail.


I’ve never been one much moved by ‘surround sound’ (particularly if using headphones, and thus enjoying almost 100% stereo separation, I’d need ears like a spider has eyes for more sources to not have severely diminishing returns); but the one nice thing about getting a good transfer is that the source film probably isn’t getting any better as time goes by; but we have the technology(and will have more and better later) if you want to enworsen the digital version in any number of ways.

Heck, with a few decent cameras, and a variety of test film, we could probably construct a set of transform functions that eerily replicate the imperfections you would see at a specific drive-through(with its specific screen condition, optics package, local dust/pollen/fiber contaminants in the film path. With techniques adapted from 3d rendering and CGI, you could probably even choose the season, degree of cloud cover, moonlight, etc. and bake a profile to suit.)

I entirely agree that more is not always better as a final aesthetic; but given analog film’s nasty tendency toward death, any film I was interested in having access to in the long term, I’d want the best available digital transfer pulled while the best analog copy is still workable. You can always throw data away if you want to watch a rougher version; but you can never recover data that have been lost, so you should probably grab as much as possible and make rough derivatives if that’s what the occasion requires.

(As for complaints about the inauthenticity of digital enworsening: If you don’t like it, don’t do it, and please do it tastefully if you do; but the director had zero control over the analog/environmental enworsening his film suffered in shipping and showings at random theaters, and he has zero control over the contrast levels, refresh rates, and color reproduction of your TV, so I’d argue that it’s just another variation of something as old as cinema. Whether or not it’s a good idea in a specific circumstance is a different question (often answered by 'No. Does this look like Instagram to you?))


Ed Guinn who played the cattle truck driver later owned a recording studio in Austin. It was only after I’d worked there that I learned of his role in the movie.

I’m imagining a crystal-clear high tech restoration which would then be artificially aged, scratched, discolored and distorted in post-production a-la Tarantino & Rodriguez’s Grindhouse double-feature.

There are grain compression algorithms in some of the video codecs-- scrub the grain, compress the cleaned up signal, and add the grain back in. Of course, if you manage to inadvertently apply a low pass filter to the video signal while scrubbing the grain you’ve pissed off both camps.

Normally, I would agree. But remember the detail revealed when they cleaned up Night of the Living Dead years ago! I had been in love with NotLD on moldy old prints for so long that it was literally shocking to see it cleaned up. But, I fell in love all over again in new ways! So, I’m sorta curious to see what they do here…

Supposedly, the Bluray for Evil Dead 2 reveals that the whole thing was filmed on in a high school gymnasium.

I miss the murkiness

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