The “Saw” franchise finds pleasure (and profit) in pain.

Please don't make me watch another SAW sequel."

Please don't make me watch another SAW sequel."

This is not a review of the sixth Saw film.  I have never seen any Saw film and have no intention of  doing so. With the exceptions of a few minutes of the first one when it played on the SciFi channel several months ago.  Even in a severely edited version I got a sense of what these  flicks are about: bad actors acting badly playing unlikable characters who die painful deaths at the hands of the calculating serial killer named Jigsaw and his sadistic traps and torture devices.

Maybe if I were Dick Cheney I could find something to admire in 90 minutes of screaming, dismemberment and gore.  As it is, my way of looking at is I haven’t seen all the good movies made by Spielberg, Scorcese, Lee and The Coen Brothers, so why do I want  to waste precious minutes of my life watching shitty splatter flicks?

I do confess to a certain morbid fascination that for six years in a row, Lions Gate has turned this thin gruel of torture porn into a lucrative franchise.  Nobody’s ever cranked out crap like this with such a flagrant disregard for both logic and human life.  But hey, people like to watch other people meeting miserable ends.   I guess there’s something cathartic in seeing someone have to saw off their own foot or dig out their eye in order to retrieve a key hidden behind it .

Or perhaps the intention is to  simply provoke a “Wow, that’s really fucked up,” response.  That’s as good a reason as any,  I suppose.

When serial killers shop at Home Depot

When serial killers shop at Home Depot

The Saw filmsare invulnerable to the disdain and hostitlity of movie critics and other disapproving adults.  They run on the restless need of teenage boys for ever-increasing dosages of carnage.  The five films have grossed nearly $700 million worldwide.  Thats nothing to sneeze at when you consider the original Saw was made for a measley $1 million and grossed a eye-gouging $100 million.

Saw jump-started the horror genre after  Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers and all the other dead-teenager-on-a-stick killers had fallen on lean times.   Even Friday the 13th, Nightmare On Elm Street and the Halloween sequels had a small degree of sick humor in their mean little hearts.  That’s all gone with today’s torture porn flicks where pain and lots of it is the selling point.

I never got the bad taste out of my mouth from one sleepless night spent watching a ugly piece of vomit named Wolf Creek which featured an outback killer by the name of Mick who took great delight in sadistically taunting, hunting down and murdering two women.  The worst moment was when he stabs one victim in the back, cuts off her fingers and severs her spine.  Before she dies from blood loss Mick says she is now a “head on a stick.”

As Wolf Creek was loosely based on several real murders this bit of anti-life/anti-entertainment was all the more repulsive for the relentless cruelty and the way it reveled and lingered on the suffering of the women.  That’s the kind of misogyny that puts the pornography in “torture porn.”   Roll all the Saw crapfests into one big bloody ball and they don’t begin to reach that kind of hatred toward women.

Horror films fall into one of two categories.  The few that want to scare and truly disturb you and all the others that only want to gross you out.   After watching some clips on You Tube and reading the synopsis of the six films, I’m confident in proclaiming Saw movies live in the “gross you out” category.   I’m not above the occasional gross-out, but I like them much better when there’s at least a thread of intelligence behind it.

Real horror doesn’t just stimulate the gag reflex.  What makes an Audition, The Exorcist, Psycho or Henry: Portrait of A Serial Killer linger in the mind isn’t simply because they’re terrifying, but because it takes genuine talent to scare the hell out of grown men and women and  that has nothing to do with tricked out knife chairs or reverse bear traps.

"You're not sticking me. I'm sticking you."

By the way, here’s a Saw VI SPOILER:  the sista in the first photo is trapped in a  head harness that will drill screws into her head within 60 seconds unless she and a male victim free themselves.  The way out of the trap is whichever removes the most body weight first will live and the other one dies.   The male victim, who is overweight, cuts off fat from his stomach, but the woman cuts off her arm, tipping the scale saving herself and killing him.

Sorry if that diminished your hopes that homegirl was this closet to undergoing brain surgery without benefit of scalpel or anesthesia.  Try to enjoy the slaughter anyway.

One thought on “The “Saw” franchise finds pleasure (and profit) in pain.

  1. I really find no point in excessive blood and gore, yet I liked the Saw films. It’s an interesting concept that the antagonist wants his victims to live, and while the acting isn’t exactly oscar-material, there is always some twist at the end that usually fools me. I wouldn’t compare Saw to, for example, Hostel, and call it a straight torture porn. Actual thought goes behind the plot and characters, more so than most slasher flickers.

    It should also be noted that every year the Saw films have a blood drive for the Red Cross, and so far they have raised tens of thousands of pints of blood. Because of this I would say that it’s a benefit these movies are being made.



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