Tag Archives: Saw

The Amateur-ville Horror

IMG_3048It may not be to the level at, say, Universal Studios with their Halloween shenanigans but my brother certainly does take time and scare over his Halloween spook-tacular.

The front of his house and garden (the rockery horror picture show?) was transformed into a mysterious mist heavy graveyard complete with listing headstones and accompanying ghouls and fiends…all of which stands between would-be trick or treaters and their candy…if they dare!

IMG_3044Fittingly it all took place in the last house on the left (before the school) and this year visitors had to dodge the likes of uber scary clowns (are there any other type?).

There was also a dapperly-suited Jigsaw (yours truly) that kept children and adults guessing if it was real or not.

Well, of course I wanted them to play a game of real or not real as I hid among the tombstones Baron Samedi-style.

Then there was an illuminated cloaked devil figure (my brother’s guise for this year) that was one part Ghostface and one part Darth Maul.

IMG_3038And then there was Iz, otherwise known as spooky speedy pumpkin (I have no idea, that’s the name Iz gave herself), a black and pink striped cat (must be a pedigree with that name) as played with much relish by Isabelle.

She gave the likes of Nicole Scherzinger and Michelle Pfeiffer a run for their milk money with her zeal, which started out as domesticated friendliness  before ending the evening as feral claws and hisses.

Iz was a whisker above Claudia Winkleman, who’d chosen a frightfully feline outfit for this week’s Strictly Come Dancing as well.

IMG_3516Not to fear though if any of the intrepid visitors needed medical attention though as there was a member of medical personnel on hand, feet and torsos in the form of a sinister psycho surgeon complete with death-oscope,

Sarah here channeling her inner Incredible Hulk with those eyes! Is it me or do they follow you round the room?

IMG_3549With such a menagerie of monsters on display you’d have thought that perhaps the neighbours might have stared, not to matter as Shona would stared right back at them and right through them.

Beyond the front door a world of the macabre awaited Halloween party guests in the form of Ringu figures on the stairs, a river of dry ice emanating from a cauldron across the food (of the gods) that put Top of the Pops to shame and curtains of cobwebs aplenty.

Isabelle loved it, merrily swishing the hubbling and bubbling mist, although I think Isabelle must have thought that the food was on fire judging by her reaction.

IMG_3563It was also the night of the living dad and mum as my parents showed they weren’t too cool for ghoul arriving in full costume and make-up, here caught it the kitchen which was full of its own devilish delights.

There was also no sanctuary to be found the other side of the house either as those escaping through the back door were met by a baby complete with spinning head and and creepy lullaby.

IMG_3559Reeling in horror from that you are then faced with a body bag and shovel amidst more graves to make your (Burke and) hairs stand on end, before being chased from the property by a cackling head hidden in the wall.

It certainly was an evening of high spirits where a good fright was had by all and nobody could deny that it was a real scream.

Perhaps most frightening of all though was when I removed my mask (steady) and wore it on my head as I became less Jigsaw puppet from Saw and more Max Wall!

Bangers and Clash: Welcoming back The Apprentice

Oh. My. God. It’s exit stage left for The X-Factor and sit this one out Strictly as the Don of reality gameshows is back.

The Apprentice, making its first Autumnal appearance due to fears of Lord Sugar’s mug – his face not his drinking receptacle  (no doubt of Amstrad design) – may have had an impact on the outcome on the General Election with him being a Labour Peer and all. At least he wasn’t Hastings Pier is all I can say!

Anyway, back to the show and within the first five minutes you are left wondering if they shouldn’t have renamed the programme The A-pretentious. The voiceover said that there were 16 top candidates and 12 tough weeks, I can only imagine that he means they are going to be tough for us judging by this bunch.  

A flurry of suits of nameless wannabe Sugar bitches and bastards who’ll say and do anything to get there. I personally can’t wait for the Saw inspired episode with Lord Sugar coming in on a little trike complete with the Jigsaw doll inspired white face. Talking of Jigsaw, the Janet Ellis TV show, it would actually be far scarier if he came out as Mr Nosey Bonk.

“I describe myself as a bit of a maverick”, spouts Alex Epstein, who looks like Neville Longbottom from Harry Potter. Neville, I mean Alex, also claims that he has a unique blend, and something tells me it’s not his brand of coffee he is attempting to get us excited about. He says, “I’m not just another corporate clone.” He’s right there; he’s more the corporate clown and a walking cliché to boot. It’s as if he’s been round all the dentists in the UK and read the words of wisdom on those pictures of lovely lakes and mountains.

Sticking with Hogwarts we also have Melissa, who is an amalgam of Velma from Scooby Doo with the hair and annoyingness of Draco Malfoy, who claims she has loads of business/ retail experience and is as if she is about to nominate herself for Team Leader but then says she doesn’t want it and then snipes at the Team Leader through the remainder of the show. She also had some brilliant facial expressions and I’m sure I saw her glasses steam up at one point.

The person who I hollered at the most whilst he appeared on my television though had to be Stuart Baggs, he with the hair of Eddie Munster. In his intro he claimed that there was no glass ceiling for him, which isn’t technically true as I can think of several I would like to shove him through, and that he was Baggs the brand. Baggs of shite more like.

He even came out with this bobby dazzler, “Everything I touch turns to sold.” Crap comment, plus never believe a man whose eyes are too close together.

We are told these 16 were chosen from thousands of applicants, the voiceover doesn’t say they were the best as obviously they were chosen to give us the best entertainment value in the same sense that people were chosen on the very same basis on how the misfits all complemented, or not, each other as a group.

For me it was the group names chosen that summed up this opening episode best, not exactly inspiring boardroom material. The guys basically had a toss up between Fusion and Synergy, both of which sound like really lame Gladiators, and went for the latter.

The ladies reasoning for their eventual name was my favourite though as they settled on Apollo, after dismissing the frankly bonkers Winning Women from Draco. Alas it was less inspired by Carl Weather’s Apollo Creed from the Rocky series and more the space programme as their motto was ‘failure is not an option’. Great sentiment, but I’m not sure that Gus Grissom (hang on wasn’t he in CSI?), Ed White or Roger Chaffee would agree as they were astronauts on the very first Apollo mission who burnt to death in a fire on the launch pad. There’s an irony of sorts then that the first show’s task was about selling sausages, perfect for BBQs.

The blokes sold budget bangers in boaters, even attempting to sell them door to door at one point. You can just see them feeding strings of them through letter boxes. At one point I thought they were going to start hurling packs of sausages into passing cab windows! At least they got their griddle going, unlike the women, who had an initial uphill struggle selling their bulging posh variety. Some clever number crunching was all that saved their bacon…er sausages.

Dan Harris, the Team Leader of ‘Synergy’ was onto a loser the moment he announced that he would lead the team and that they would do all the work, which saw stepping into the back of a black cab pretty much a foregone conclusion.

He signalled his own demise but dragged Eddie Munster hair and Neville into the boardroom with him. Stuart just doesn’t shut up, not even to Lord Sugar, and clearly his card is marked. He still bleated on about being unique and 21, surely not much of a USP!

Saw VI – still sharp after all these years?

Saw VI was the first film in the series to not slash through the £100 million barrier in the US thanks to it being brutally slain at the Halloween box office by Paranormal Activity, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t any good, reports Dean Newman.

The Saw series, or dare I say phenomenon, first leapt out onto cinema screens back in 2004 and has been back again regular as clockwork each Halloween since, not bad for a series whose main character ‘died’ in part 3!

Still inventive, still disturbing. Yet it’s the twist and turns of the storyline that I watch it for and how they oh so cleverly link it to the movies and characters that have come before, quite literally a jigsaw of a film franchise, apt considering it’s also the moniker of the main character. It certainly won’t be easy for new fans to pick up the series from here, but that is the joy of following the threads and tangents right from the start.

Talking of the main character, the Jigsaw clown puppet has to be the only horror icon from the last decade, sharing the same status as the likes of Ghostface, Leatherface, Freddy, Jason, Michael and Chucky. After all what other pure horror series has spawned both a theme park ride and a game, certainly none of the aforementioned. In fact Saw VI even inspired a reality TV programme, no really, called ‘Scream Queens’ on VH1 where nubile young ladies had to ‘die’ convincingly for a part in this very film, makes a change to singers killing songs on The X Factor.

Most of the time you could argue whether the Jigsaw killer, the latest incarnation being Costas Mandylor, is almost a vigilante of sorts as the people strapped up to devices are generally not the nicest of folk, although in actual fact he is doing the bidding of original pig head wearing fiend played by Tobin Bell.

And so to the latest instalment, this time the franchise has a conscience and actually chooses an issue that is especially topical in the US, healthcare, although it kicks proceedings off with a bloody nod and wink mutilation of two loan sharks. Jigsaw’s victims this time round, as ever people who have sucked the goodness from society, are health insurers and namely the people who find flaws in health insurance policies so they don’t have to pay the dying. At one point John (Tobin) even comments that people think healthcare decisions are made by doctors, patients and the government, but they are made by the insurance companies.

Of course, it just so happens one of the clients they didn’t honour was Jigsaw. Thus this set-up neatly riffs on the usual Saw story of human survival and how people react when faced with death. This film, and franchise as a whole, raises the horror bar as it’s not just a group of annoying teens being stalked and slashed, there is purpose and reason. More importantly there is plenty of creativity, which is astonishing with it being the sixth in the series, personally I feel parts II and III were the weakest.

Life insurance salesman, William Easton, and the man who denied Jigsaw and other terminal people like him, just sees figures and potential survival rates…until he sees the figures of his work colleagues being offered up for sacrifice, but who does he choose to save from being hanged, the middle aged woman with diabetes and a family or the healthy young man with no family? It’s certainly much more fun than Ant and Dec’s Push the Button and is quite primal in its horror.

One scene where Easton quite literally gets blood on his hands is where he decides on which two people to save from a group of six, the people up for sacrifice are those who spot errors in claims and policies resulting in two thirds being denied, ironically denying two thirds of them life. He has to look at the victims as they die…something he never, or they never have to do in real life. For horror, at least, it’s all thought provoking stuff.

Throughout, the film jumps between the duel storylines of the life insurance executive and his bids for freedom and the ever closing net on Detective Hoffman, who just so happens to be one of the investigating officers.

The last few instalments have of course still had their inventive death scenes and blood and gore moments, but the series is now more in the domain of horror thriller than the torture porn title it was slapped with when it first started, so is as much about the complicated story, certainly for horror at least, as it is the death scenes, a reason why it has lasted longer than say its brother in blood, Hostel.

As the film races to it conclusion the stakes become higher and what was once black and white becomes shades of grey. The finale had me sitting on the edge of the sofa and although I’d guessed one part of the ending its parlour trickery filled script had me wrong footed.

It’s got gusto and guts aplenty, especially for a part VI of a series, there is clearly more blood yet to be pumped from it. There’s no surprise that each section of this filmic puzzle is so deftly held together as it is helmed by the editor of Saw I – V, Kevin Greutert, whose work should be applauded and is certainly the series’ best instalment after the original.

Saw is still firmly the duracell battery of horror franchises. Krueger and Vorhees et al may have kept going and going (the less said about Pinhead the better) but all ran out of steam long before the films stopped being made, as long as these keep being inventive and reinventing itself long may Jigsaw continue playing his games and roll on Halloween 2010!