There was mainly yawning when the news surfaced that Twisted Pictures, the production company behind the Saw series closed a multi-picture deal with the owners of the film rights to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. After the last entry TCM: The Beginning, one could expect that nearly everything has been told about the chainsaw-wielding Texan but 2013 taught us the contrary. Therefore, the expectations for Texas Chainsaw 3D, which is a direct sequel to the very first film, weren't that high. Still, it managed to make a decent amount at the US box office with almost $35 million. That means that a sequel is already greenlit and can be expected around 2014. And we shouldn't be too sad about that because all criticism aside, Texas Chainsaw 3D turned out to be quite solid movie. Of course, it's a group of twentysomethings that face the horrors of the Texan rural town but this time we have a story element that saves the film halfway from the conventional road we know all too well. In the end, we have a surprisingly refreshing entry for the TCM franchise.
But the film tries to please its fan crowd in other aspects, as well. Not only since 2007's overly brutal TCM: The Beginning, gruesome acts of violence are one of the franchise's trademarks. Therefore, it was fitting that the newest entry received the MPAA's infamous NC-17 rating. Since that is not lucrative for a theatrical release, censorship was applied in order to get the "R" rating (for strong, grisly violence and language throughout). These modifications also caused a delay of the release date but did not really affect the box office success with $35 million. Also, past experiences let hardcore fans keep calm because the uncensored version could be expected on the home video releases later on. Unfortunately, the announcement for the DVD and Blu-ray did not contain any information about a longer cut of the movie. Would customers really have to accept the censored "R"-rated version on those releases, as well? After weeks of silence, many of them tended to do so and were completely surprised once again when the news broke that the unrated version does indeed exist and will be available exclusively as video-on-demand on US iTunes. A happy end of sorts that keeps hopes alive that this version will hopefully end up on physical media some time in the future. Still, other countries probably won't join those celebrations for an unknown period of time. For example, the German distributor was euphoric when the ratings board granted the film a classification without further cuts - only to be disappointed later on that there is also an unrated version. And judging from their bitter comments on Facebook, they did not get the info from the US that such a version does also exist.
Apart from that, the censorship isn't as exciting as the background facts. The alterations are typical MPAA repertoire, so it's either framecuts or usage of harmless alternate material. The uncensored version doesn't reach new splatter heights but when it exists, one wants to have it, right? Those who can live with the edited "R" version, don't come significantly short because the gore scenes are still intense.
Comparison between the R-Rated Theatrical Version and the Unrated Version (US-iTunes).
11 differences, among them 6 scenes with alternate material
The Unrated Version runs 4.92 seconds longer than the Theatrical Version.
0:42:18: As Kenny's suffering starts, the Unrated is longer while the Theatrical Version has a shot of Leatherface.
The R-Rated runs 0.2 sec. longer
0:42:23: First real cut of frames. A little longer as Kenny is notched further.
0:42:27: And again a little more gore in the Unrated.
1:04:55: Leatherface and Officer Marvin fight a little longer. Marvin's gun falls to the ground.
1:05:11: Exclusive shot of Leatherface's hand holding the cleaver and strikes out, hitting Officer Marvin offscreen. After that, the Officer is seen screaming in pain.
1:05:13: The Unrated has 4 more frames of the blow with the cleaver and we get to see how it almost hits Officer Marvin's back (it's too dark to tell whether it still hits him onscreen or not). The R-Rated switches to the suffering policeman instead and shows him - surprise surprise - 4 frames longer than the Unrated.
No time difference
1:07:15: Leatherface cuts Officer Marvin's face for an additional second.
1:07:30: Leatherface slowly removes the policeman's facial skin from the skull. The Theatrical Version switches to the concentrated killer halfway through the procedure while the Unrated stays with the face all the time, showing that the skin is almost entirely removed. Still, we don't have any runtime difference here.
No time difference
1:21:45: As Leatherface begins to cut off Hartman's hand, the R-Rated shows him from the back just a little longer while the Unrated already switched to a shot showing how the saw approaches the hand and starts severing it. When the R-Rated joins the party, it is already in full motion.
The Unrated runs 0.52 sec. longer
1:21:47: Only the Unrated shows onscreen how Harman's second hand is sawed off. The R-Rated shows Leatherface instead and switches to the scene when the hand is already dismembered.
No time difference
1:21:53: Two shots of Hartman being chopped are longer in the Unrated. The R-Rated avoids runtime difference by showing the bloody chopper a little longer and by having an exclusive shot of Heather.
No time difference