Monday, November 22

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) - Strange Australian(?) Bootleg VHS

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Here's an oddity fittingly bought off the tailgate of a beat-up pick-up over the weekend. It's Tobe Hooper's classic, my favorite horror film after Dawn, on a curious boot in a hard plastic case (think Thorn EMI's releases). What makes this unlicensed release odd is the use of the Australian R18+ classification. At first, I figured it was just some bootlegger slapping on a rating for added "official-looking" effect; yet no, the tape is actually recorded in the country's PAL video standard (notice the shortened PAL runtime). R18+ is the correct rating as confirmed by Refused Classification. The cover itself is also printed on high quality "stiffer" stock and done very cleanly with none of the usual grammatical gaffes.

The tip-off is the cassette looking and feeling like a modern cheap blank. The only sticker, along its spine, has the title typed out in that tacky "Creepy" word processor font. Not to mention no note of a distributor anywhere. The second scan is the authorized New Castle/MPI VHS from 1992 in a regular cardboard slipcover. Besides the art similarities, notice how the bootleg abbreviates the tagline and synopsis of the real release. Just a weird-ass bootleg, especially considering Texas Chain Saw has been readily available in both countries for years now.

3 comments:

John said...

Yes this is a somewhat 'grey market' release here, as it was part of the stock of a real distributor's video stalls set up in malls here in Aus in the late 90's/early 00's. The stalls still exist, but now are all DVD obviously. Curiously, these stalls were also peddling a grey market TCM2, which at the time was banned here until it was overturned a few years back when the MGM SE DVD was released.

james1511 said...

There was a raft of these bootleg tapes in Australia from the late 90s through to about the end of the VHS era; you could always pick them by a few signifiers, such as the fact that you couldn't get them in real shops (the sellers were invariably these people who had a stall of some kind at a shopping centre, and they usually only lasted a few weeks at any given location before moving elsewhere, though they'd usually return a few months later) and the lack of any distributor or label information. Most of them were films that hadn't been available here for years, and indeed I recall a couple of them were titles actually banned in this country at the time, i.e. the uncut Caligula (recently banned again) and TCM 2 (passed in 2006). That's why this tape is indeed mystifying, cos I'd never known the original TCM to have gone out of print on tape; I'm sure it would've been legitimately available even by whenever this came out (indeed the first DVD issue may even have been out by then).

Jayson said...

Wow, thanks a lot for the detailed feedback guys! Nice to know I have readers from Australia!

Now the bigger mystery is how did it ever end up thousands of miles away in Maryland amongst hundreds of U.S. tapes...

...do you dare tread upon the staircase?
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