02/21/13

House of 1000 Corpses (2003)

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Author’s Note:  All articles on MK Horror contain spoilers.

Article written by Maggie K. Ward

Distributed by Lions Gate Films.

Distributed by Lions Gate Films.

Rob Zombie’s directorial debut, House of 1000 Corpses tells the story of a sadistic family, the Firefly’s, that hold a pair of couples hostage.  Little does the audience know, this isn’t the Firefly’s first time holding people against their will and torturing them.  The film draws heavy influence from 70’s exploitation films such as Texas Chainsaw Massacre and A Clockwork Orange.

A pair of couples seeking off beat roadside attractions stop at a gas station that happens to be home of Captain Spaulding’s (Sid Haig) Museum of Monsters and Madmen.  Bill (Rainn Wilson) informs Spaulding that they are writing a book about the strange attractions people see when they drive across the country.  Captain Spaulding rudely responds by suggesting, “Y’all think us folks from the country real funny like!”  He plays it off as a joke, yet this double sided strange humor is a common characteristic to the man in clown paint.

The museum/ gas station has a nifty little ride that features varies serial killers such as Albert Fish, Ed Gein, and a local “hero,” Dr. Satan.  The doctor was an intern at local mental hospital and thought he could create a race of super humans from the mentally ill.  He was hung from a tree that just so happens to be down the street, but his body disappeared and no ones seen him since.

In search of Dr. Satan’s hanging tree, the group come across a hitchhiker: Baby Firefly (Sheri Moon Zombie).  They pick her up and ask her were the tree is and, of course, it happens to be right by her house.  Anyone else see the connection?  Connect the dots even further: the group gets a flat tire and Baby informs them that her brother drive a tow truck.

The group is taken to Baby’s house where they meet Mother Firefly (Karen Black) in an eccentric outfit with a pink feature boa.  The group not so subtly makes fun of her.  They aren’t very polite.  After all, these people took them into their home and are helping them with their flat tire, yet they repay them with crude jokes and thanklessness.  Mary (Jennifer Jostyn) especially rubs me the wrong way.  Frankly, she’s a b*tch.  Now, do these kids get what’s coming to them?  No, not really.  But they certainly don’t help their case treating the Firefly’s like they’re the crazy lunatics they really are…

Mother Firefly invites the group to dinner where they meet the rest of the strange family.  Halloween costumes and masks are a necessity for tonight’s meal.  Halfway through dinner, the group is joined by Otis (Bill Moseley) and a dead fetus in a jar.  Yum.  The movie just gets stranger and stranger as it dives deeper into the Firefly lifestyle.

Showtime!  Seriously, everyone gets up from dinner and the Firefly’s put on a show.  That’s tandom and bizarre.  Grampa (Dennis Fimple) tells dirty jokes, and then Babys comes out in costume to sing “I Wanna Be Loved By You.”  The editing during this song is really interesting.  Shots are shown simultaneously of Baby singing and the group’s individual reactions to her performance.  I’ve seen this before.  Most notably in Carrie (1976) when she kills everybody at prom.  Mary finally snaps and Baby pulls a knife on her.

On their way out, they are viciously attacked by a couple of the Fireflys.  Bill is slowly torture by Otis while Baby dances and laughs.  Otis then creates a work of art, Fish Boy, out of the nasty remains.  I have to say, this is absolutely disgusting, yet kind of neat.

Frank Ifield’s “I Remember You” is an upbeat love song from the 60s.  This song plays when cops discover a shed full of dead, mangled, female bodies.  The scene is so terrifying, the song helps tone it down.  The scene is even played in slow motion to mimic the dumb shock the cops must feel when they discover all the dead girls.  Have you ever been in a car crush and everything seemed to slow down?  It’s the same effect, but with brutally torture bodies and an immense feeling of uselessness

The large majority of the torture scenes are grainy with a strange discoloration to them.  This was done to make the torturous act seem even more surreal, and pull the viewers away from the terrifying experience of watching someone get tortured.  Of course, nowadays we’re so used to torture in our horror films.  Nice try Zombie.  It’s good of you to be courteous to your viewers.  But, House of 1000 Corpses did come out before the big torture porn craze.

The sickest part of the film, in my opinion, is Otis’ Halloween costume.  Who’s your daddy?  He skins the girl’s dad and wears him like a costume.  It gets better.  He sticks his tough through dad’s mouth and attempts to suck face with his daughter.  Yuck.  This scene just gives me the wigs.

This movie is probably one of the strangest films I’ve ever seen (second only to Army of Darkness I think).  The Firefly family is seriously screwed up.  Baby is a sick twisted monster that can’t decide if she wants to be a child or a slut, and she gets off on killing people.  Otis is tyrant that physically takes out his anger on helpless victims.  I wouldn’t recommend this movie for everyone.  I enjoyed it more than the sequel The Devil’s Rejects, but it certainly isn’t for everyone.  If you like explicitly violent movies, add this one to your list if you haven’t seen it yet.

Have Questions or Comments? Feel free to e-mail me at: MKHorror@yahoo.com

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02/20/13

The Woman (2011)

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Author’s Note: All articles on MK Horror contain spoilers.

Article written by Maggie K. Ward

Distributed by Bloody Disgusting.

Distributed by Bloody Disgusting.

Chris Cleek (Dean Bridgers) has it all: a beautiful wife, three wonderful children, a big house in the country with dogs, a white picket fence, etc, blah blah.  While hunting in the woods, he finds a woman (Pollyanna McIntosh) bathing in a creek.  This woman is filthy and wild, and Chris decides to capture her and turn her into a “family project.”  How nice.

He brings the woman to an underground cellar he has on his property, and chains her between two poles.  While checking her eyes and teeth, she bites his finger off, eats it, and spits his wedding ring at him.  Awesome!  He beats the crap out of her and states, “That is not civilized behavior,” as if it is perfectly ok to punch a woman several times in the face.

Chris presents the woman to his family with a wild grin on his face.   He is so proud of himself, while they are dumbfounded with the situation.  His oldest daughter, Peg (Lauren Ashley Carter) and wife, Belle (Angela Bettis) are horrified.  His son, Brian (Zach Rand) asks, “What are we going to do with her?”  This line rubs me the wrong way.  There’s a small hint of a smile on his face.  Sick boy.

Brian is strange.  That’s all there is to it.  He loses a free throw contest with a girl and nonchalantly hides chewed up bubble gum in her hairbrush.  When she gets the brush caught in her hair, he runs to help her and painfully yanks at the brush.  How strange it this?  I’m sure we’re suppose to assume he likes her, but after learning more about Brian, we find out he’s just as sick as his father.

Chris’ youngest daughter, Darlin’ (Shyla Molhusen) is completely sweet an innocent.  I suppose she doesn’t understand the severity of the situation.  She goes to the locked cellar door and plays music for the woman to help make her smile.  How sweet.  That brings a smile to my face.

Chris is an exceedingly evil man.  While the woman is supposed to be an untamed beast, Chris is the real monster in this story.  He has no moral compass.  Throughout the film we slowly learn just how terrible he his.  He smacks his wife merely for asking if they are doing the right thing about the woman and physically and mentally tortures the woman.

When Chris is washing the woman with scalding hot water between the breasts, for a second we think Belle is going to stand up to her husband.  She picks up a slab of wood and looks at her husband with determination in her eyes.  But to our sadness she informs her husband that one of the wires is loose that is holding the woman in her prison.

All of the “good” he does for the woman is torturous.  He shoots a deafening gunshot near her ear as a lesson.  He hoses her down is a painfully high-powered water blaster while she screams.  Let’s not forget the fact that he rapes her.  Gee, Chris.  What a nice guy.

Well, it hits the fan when Belle finally stands up for herself and Chris beats the living crap out of her.  Shortly after, Peg’s math teacher (Carlee Baker) stops by to inform them that Peg may be pregnant.  Chris drags her out to the dogs in the barn for sticking her nose is other people’s business.  This is when we meet Anophthalmia and the true horror behind Chris’s mind.

Peg takes things into her own hands and releases the woman.  Well, she immediately kills everyone involved in her hell.  Even Belle is slaughtered.  The woman quite literally rips out Chris’s heart, truly making him a heartless beast.  Oh geezus, the sounds we hear when she is reaching into his ribcage removing his heart are absolutely grotesque!  Delicious.

This movie is extraordinary on so many levels.  The men in this movie are completely crazy.  They’re terrifying!  The women are in bizarre states of shock not knowing how to respond to the horrible things Chris is doing.  If you haven’t seen this movie, watch it.  It’s a bit gory at times, but after all this is the Ultimate Gore-A-Thon: a Splatterific Extravaganza.  The story is shocking and terrifying.  Watch it.  You just might be impressed.

Have Questions or Comments? Feel free to e-mail me at: MKHorror@yahoo.com

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02/18/13

Saw VI (2009)

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Author’s Note:  All articles on MK Horror contain spoilers.

Article written by Maggie K. Ward

Distributed by Lionsgate. er design by Ignition Print

Distributed by Lionsgate. er design by Ignition Print

What would you do to save your life?  Would you remove pieces of your flesh, or a full limb to survive a sick game?  The open sequence of Saw VI is gruesome.  From a blood and guts stand point, I certainly give it a passing grade.  Two colleagues awake in a room separated by fencing, each with a table full of knives.  The name of the game is self-mutilation.  The person who places the most flesh in their scale is set free, while the other’s skull is penetrated with thick screws.  “I’m not dying for you b*tch,” screams the man as he slices chunks of skin off he fat belly.  This hostile comment automatic makes me root for the woman, who wins by cutting off her left arm.

The big game in Saw VI is about William (Peter Outerbridge) a sleazy man that works in insurance.  He decides who gets coverage and who does not based on an algorithm.  In essence, he decides who gets to live or die.  Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) points out that the mathematic equation does not take into account a human’s will to live.  Throughout his game is must decide to save the lives of people that his company would not cover.  During one part of his game, he is given the opportunity to save a life.  One life.  He can pick the young healthy man with no family, or the elderly sick woman with family that will miss her if she dies.  Does he make the right decision?  His algorithm would have picked the healthier young man, but he saved the life of the old woman.  Is he learning to change his ways?  Is the threat of loosing his own life causing him to change the way he thinks?

Human nature is an interesting thing.  William helps his lawyer get through a maze with hot steam blowing across the path.  He must turn a lever and take the pain to clear her path.  After helping her, she is given a choice.  She needs a key, and this key is inside William’s body.  What would you do to save your life?  Would you kill your boss, a man that just helped save you life, in order to survive?  She would.  She doesn’t think twice about grabbing a power tool and attacking him.

I have mentioned before that the scariest monster is a human being.  People as monsters are terrifying.  The Saw franchise is able people.  The people in these movies are predators, rapists, conmen, and liars.  Jigsaw says they don’t appreciate their lives, and thus he tests them.  The writers of Saw VI truly understand human beings.  William comes across a carousel with his six most important associates.  They are the vicious dogs that find flaws in people’s policies.  Two may live, while the other four must die.  Each begs for their lives and tells endless lies to get William to spare them.  These movies aren’t about scaring the audience.  They are about helping us understand human nature.

Have Questions or Comments? Feel free to e-mail me at: MKHorror@yahoo.com

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02/17/13

Saw V (2008)

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Author’s Note:  All articles on MK Horror contain spoilers.

Article written by Maggie K. Ward

Distributed by Lionsgate. Poster design by Ignition Print.

Distributed by Lionsgate. Poster design by Ignition Print.

The first time I watched Saw V, I congratulated it for jumping the shark within ten minutes.  Ok, the pendulum game was pretty sweet.  This game is unwinnable and we are immediately reminded of Amanda’s (Shawnee Smith) games in Saw II.  Could this be another one of her games, or does Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) create unwinnable games too?

The shark jumping, however, comes to play with Agent Strahm’s (Scott Patterson) game.  His head is trapped inside a glass box that will quickly fill with water.  The joke is on Strahm because there is no way to win this game.  He must simply drown.  But, he finds a pen in his pocket, stabs himself in the neck, and breathes.  I’m not in the medical field, but I don’t think this is even remotely plausible.  The thing about fiction is, the audience must accept the world to which that are presented, or the story is useless.  If I can’t believe Strahm would survive his game, I can’t believe much of the rest of the film.  Way to suck Saw V.

The big game in Saw V starts with five strangers in a room with survival as their goal.  Now, I’m not sure if my attention to detail has improved, or if the writing is starting to get sloppy, but I wasn’t surprised at the big twist.  Jigsaw said, “Five will become one with a common goal of survival.”  Doesn’t this mean they must work together to survive?  Yet, the two remaining are shocked when this concept is brought to their attention at the end of the film.

But, I keep telling myself “common sense doesn’t make a good horror film.”  Otherwise, characters would stop taking showers in movies, they’d stop yelling “Who’s there?” and they would stop sticking their heads up their a**es.

What some people may find interesting about Saw V is Agent Strahm’s research of the past Jigsaw cases.  This shows the audience how former victims were captured and set in place to play their game.  Paul (Mike Butters) from the original Saw film, for example, was captured by both Jigsaw and Hoffman and placed in a cage full of razor wires.  He also assisted in the set up for the game in Saw II.

I have a strong feeling Saw V is the beginning of the downfall of the Saw franchise.  Five people endure a game where they are supposed to work together to survive.  Yet, what have these people done to deserve the audience’s sympathy?  They are all crooks, and fairly one-dimensional characters.  I could care less if they survive or if they die.  How could such a large chunk of a movie be so worthless?  Why do I care?  Looking a step further: Jigsaw was a cleaver person, and quite fascinating.  Killing him may have been the worst thing the franchise could have done.  We don’t care about Hoffman.  As Detective Matthews said in Saw III, “You’re not Jigsaw b*tch!”

Have Questions or Comments? Feel free to e-mail me at: MKHorror@yahoo.com

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02/16/13

Saw IV (2007)

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Author’s Note:  All articles on MK Horror contain spoilers.

Article written by Maggie K. Ward

Distributed by Lionsgate. Poster design by Crew Creative Advertising

Distributed by Lionsgate. Poster design by Crew Creative Advertising

Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) and Amanda (Shawnee Smith) are dead.  What happens next?  How could they possibly continue the story without them?  Saw IV answers this question.  The film starts with Jigsaw’s autopsy, and to the coroner’s shock, they find something interesting in his stomach: a tape.

Like most of Jigsaw’s dialog, his words have multiple meanings.  At the start of his tape recording to Detective Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor), Jigsaw says, “Are you there detective?  If so, you are probably the last man standing.  Now, perhaps you will succeed where the others have failed.”  The audience assumes this means the games are not over, and he’s next.  What Jigsaw was referring to, was Amanda’s failure.  As Jigsaw’s second accomplice, Hoffman will now be tested, as Amanda was, to play the games as they were meant to be played.

Both Detective Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg) and Kerry (Dina Meyer) where targeted and tested by Jigsaw.  Both failed – at least that’s what we are supposed to think at the moment.  Hoffman seems to be the last detective standing, and a natural target for Jigsaw and his mysterious accomplice.

In Saw IV, Officer Rigg (Lyriq Bent) is pulled into the limelight.  Six months after Detective Matthew’s disappearance, he is brought back into the game.  In order to save his friends, Jigsaw forces him to see what he sees, and feel how he feels.  He is attempted to force Rigg into his shoes as someone to carry on his legacy.  Rigg must allow a woman to die so she does not kill him.  In his second task, he is to kidnap and test a sexual predator.  Jigsaw is trying to break Rigg on his obsession: the need to help everyone.  Yet this need makes him the perfect Jigsaw replacement.

In the hunt for Jigsaw’s second accomplice, we have the luxury to learn more about his past.  It seems the further you get into the Saw franchise, the more you learn about serial killer and his motives.  His wife Jill (Betsy Russell) owns a clinic and attempts to help people.  Waiting outside this clinic, we see a great cameo from Addison (Emmanuelle Vaugier), one of the victims from Saw II.  It seems she’s a prostitute.  Nice detail.

One thing that bothered me about Saw IV was the confusing timeline.  One small comment in passing at the beginning of the film suggested that the events in the fourth film take place at the same time as the events in the third.  However, Jigsaw’s dead body and examination at the beginning of the film suggest that Saw IV takes place after he is dead.  This, in my opinion, is a very cheap twist.  It is not near as amazing as the usual Saw ending twists.  And Hoffman as the accomplice just doesn’t make sense.  He’s such a random pick for Jigsaw’s replacement that no one expected it.  What ever happened to Dr. Gordon or Daniel Matthews?

Despite the small grumble about the less than linear timeline, the Saw films are starting to grow on me.  I hate to say this, but the more I watch the Saw films, the more I start to like them.  I used to be the biggest fan of the first three films, but after this Saw movie marathon, I seemed to have grown to appreciate them more.  We’ll see if I feel that way about the last three movies.

Have Questions or Comments? Feel free to e-mail me at: MKHorror@yahoo.com

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02/15/13

A Second Look at “Saw III” (2006)

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Author’s Note: All articles on MK Horror contain spoilers.

Article written by Maggie K. Ward

 

Distributed by Lionsgate.  Poster design by Art Machine, A Trailer Park Company

Distributed by Lionsgate. Poster design by Art Machine, A Trailer Park Company

In my first article about Saw III, I discussed the love story between Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) and Amanda (Shawnee Smith), as well as Jigsaw’s desire to test people that underappreciate their lives.  During my second look at Saw III, I’d like to focus on the torture in the film.  In my original article, I merely grazed the surface in the style of torture in Saw III, and now I’d like to take a closer look.

I enjoy Saw III.  I know a great deal of people don’t like it, but it happens to be one of my favorite psychological films (second to American Psycho of course).  Most of the torture porn that has been made recently focuses on the physical torture of another human being.  Saw III on the other hand focuses on Jeff’s (Angus Macfadyen) mental torture.  Sure, plenty of people are physically tortured in Saw III, including a woman freezing to death, a man nearly drowning in pig guts, and another man having each of his libs gruesomely twisted and removed from his body.

There are two apparently classic Jigsaw puzzles that can’t seem to be won.  Troy (J. LaRose) is chained in a classroom and must remove the chains that are stuck throughout his body before a bomb goes off.  Like Amanda’s game in the original film, the concept is simple, yet deadly.  The part that made Troy’s game unwinnable was the door being welded shut.

During Kerry’s (Dina Meyer) game, she is to reach her hand into a glass of acid to retrieve a key to unlock a deathly harness attached to her ribs.  She wins her game, but still cannot remove the device from her body.  Game over Kerry.  It looks like Jigsaw cheated during both Kerry and Troy’s games.  But at the end of the film, we learn Amanda set up these two games, and she can’t seem to play by the rules.

Mental torture can potentially leave bigger scars than physical torture.  Throughout the film, we learn of Jeff’s obsession with his son’s death.  He completely removes himself from the remainder of his family, and focuses on seeking revenge. Jigsaw’s game for Jeff gives him the opportunity to either seek his revenge, or forgive the people who have caused him so much grief.

During Jeff’s game, he comes across three helpless people that are in need of his help.  These people were all crucial in his son’s case: a witness that left the scene, the judge that gave the driver a small sentence, and the driver that accidently hit and killed his son.  During each trial he can sit and watch these people die, or he can forgive them and save their lives.

In order to save the judge, Jeff has to burn a pile of his son’s toys.  In a previous flashback, we learn of his obsession with his son’s.  He does not allow his daughter to touch his son’s things.  Now, given the chance to save the judge, he must press a button and watch all these possessions burn before his eyes.  You can see the heart ache in his eyes as he pushes the button.

Jeff comes face to face with the driver that killed his son.  Through flashbacks we know Jeff fantasizes about seeking revenge and murdering his son’s killer.  But does anyone deserve such a grisly death?  The device strapped to his body, slowly turns his limbs until they break.  Terrifying.  The crunching sounds are disgusting.  Yuck.  Jeff’s internal battle is horrible.  Would he take a bullet to save the man that killed his son?  No.  It’s so much easier to forgive someone when they are dying.

Like the first two films, Saw III had a big twist at the ending.  Lynn (Bahar Soomekh), the doctor Jigsaw brought to keep him alive, is Jeff’s wife.  How about that?  Most people say they saw that coming.  I didn’t, though I was fairly young when this movie what released.  Regardless, it brings the two seemingly different stories together.  In the Saw franchise, everything happens for a reason (at least, in the earlier films, but I’ll get to that in later articles).  That is what is so nifty about the Saw franchise.  I like this movie.  I stated that from the beginning.  If you haven’t seen many (or any) of the Saw films, I recommend the first three.  Just go into them with an open mind.  You just may enjoy yourself.

Have Questions or Comments? Feel free to e-mail me at: MKHorror@yahoo.com

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02/14/13

Saw II (2005)

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Author’s Note: All articles on MK Horror contain spoilers.

Article written by Maggie K. Ward

Distributed by Lionsgate.  Poster design by Art Machine, A Trailer Park Company

Distributed by Lionsgate. Poster design by Art Machine, A Trailer Park Company

Saw II continues Jigsaw’s (Tobin Bell) story and, like a true horror sequel, promises more death and gore.  New twists are added to the story, and small characters are given bigger roles.

A group of strangers wake in a house with poison coursing through their veins.  Unbeknown to them, there is one thing they have in common: Detective Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg), a sleazy cop that framed all the victims for crimes they did not commit.  Each room in the house has a game for one of the victims to play in order to win an antidote to the poison that is slowly killing them all.

The biggest variable in this story is people.  Human interaction is unpredictable.  When faced with death, people will do anything to survive.  Xavier (Franky G) is probably one of the most frightening characters in any film I have ever seen.  He’s hostel and won’t think twice about killing someone to save his own skin.  Oh, by the way, he yields a baseball bat with nails sticking out of it.  The first glimpse into his unstable mind is shown when he enters the room designed for him.  For his game, he is to dig through a pit of syringes in order to find a key to the safe that holds his antidote.  He insists someone else find it for him, and throws Amanda (Shawnee Smith), a drug addict, into the pit.

The audience learns more about Jigsaw in Saw II.  A dying cancer patient, John tests people, and ultimately forces survivors to appreciate the lives they are throwing away.  Jigsaw plays a game with Detective Matthews, and asks him to merely listen to him.  Throughout the film, the story cuts between Jigsaw telling his story and the victims in the house.  Matthews fails his test because his rage takes the better of him.  He just can’t listen.  Due to his failure, Jigsaw leads him to the house and locks him in the very bathroom Adam (Leigh Whannell) and Lawrence (Cary Elwes) were chained in during the original film.

I absolutely love that the continued story in Saw II comes back to the original set.  Amanda’s goal during the game is to keep Detective Matthew’s son, Daniel (Erik Knudsen) alive.  While fleeing the monster known as Xavier, she leads him to the bathroom and attempts to lock them in.  It is here where the viewers learn just how scary Xavier is.  He cuts the skin from the back of his next to retrieve the number that is a piece of the combination to another safe with an antidote.

This part of the movie is edited quite well.  It cuts between Daniel and Amanda’s escape and Detective Matthew’s search for his son.  They are in the same location, but something is wrong.  In Matthew’s eyes, the house is dark and bodies litter the house.  His son is nowhere to be seen; yet they are in the same location.  Here’s one of the fun Saw twists.  The footage of the victims in the house was recorded.  It already happened, and his son was “in a safe and secure state.”  If Matthew’s could have played his game correctly, he would have been rewarded with his son, tied up and waiting in a safe behind Jigsaw’s desk.  Due to his failure, he is left for dead in the bathroom from the original movie.

There is certainly more blood and gore in this film than the original, though that is to be expected.  I love the scene where Addison (Emmanuelle Vaugier) stupidly reaches her arms through blades to grab a syringe.  The dumbfounded look on her face is priceless when she realizes she is stuck.  With blood dripping done her arms, gravity takes effect and cause the sick trap to tighten on her arms.

The large majority of sequels do not live up to the originals.  You will more than likely hear more complains and disliking coming from me as I review the rest of the Saw franchise for Blood Sucking Geek’s Ultimate Gore-A-Thon.  The movies will be bloodier and stupider.  Thankfully, the second installment is, in my opinion, one of the better horror sequels I’ve seen.  Too bad the rest of the franchise didn’t live up to the original.

Have Questions or Comments? Feel free to e-mail me at: MKHorror@yahoo.com

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02/13/13

A Second Look at “Saw”

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Author’s Note: All articles on MK Horror contain spoilers.

Article written by Maggie K. Ward

Distributed by Lionsgate.  Poster design by Art Machine, A Trailer Park Company

Distributed by Lionsgate. Poster design by Art Machine, A Trailer Park Company

What was once a refreshing, new, and exciting concept in horror, the twists behind Saw have now been over done, remade, and spoofed over the last decade.  Two men wake up chained to pipes in a bathroom, with nothing more than a key, a tape player, two saws, and a dead body.

The story itself is told in a series of flashbacks that inform the viewers about the Jigsaw killer (Tobin Bell).  According to Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwas), this generation’s movie serial killer is “…not really a murderer.  He never killed anyone.  He finds ways for his victims to kill themselves.”  For example, one man must climb through a cage full of razor wires to reach an exit before the time runs out.  Naturally, he died of blood loss in his attempt to save himself.

This concept was fairly new in 2004, however it has been over done over the past few years.  The Saw franchise alone has seven movies in the series all focusing on grand scenarios where victims have to survive one of Jigsaw’s “games.”  Naturally, the stories get bigger and bloodier as the sequels progress.  The first Saw film had a mere two victims in a bathroom, and the rest of the scenarios had one victim that needed to fight their own demons.

In a previously written MK Horror article, I focused mostly on the characters and cinematography in Saw.  I stated then, and still agree now, that the original Saw film is superior to the rest of the franchise merely because the creators focused more on telling a good story, and less on the shock of graphic violence.

The original Saw film was fairly light on the gore for today’s standards.  When Dr. Gordon cuts off his foot to release himself from the chains, very little is shown to the audience.  There are two shots with the saw touching skin.  Otherwise, the majority of his foot removal shows his reaction to the gruesome act with some blood splattering on his face.  The worst part may be Amanda’s game.  She cuts open a man’s stomach to retrieve a key.  We see a wonderfully disgusting mixture of guts.  Tasty.

All in all, the original Saw is a nifty thriller.  The story was creative.  The ending was shocking, and it set the stage for a horror fad that lasted for almost a decade.  At the moment, there are seven films in the series.  They seemed to have stopped making installments to the franchise, but I’m sure there will be more to come.

Have Questions or Comments? Feel free to e-mail me at: MKHorror@yahoo.com

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02/12/13

Hostel: Part III (2010)

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Author’s Note: All articles on MK Horror contain spoilers.

Article written by Maggie K. Ward

Distributed by Lionsgate.

Distributed by Lionsgate.

When I heard they had made a third Hostel film I thought to myself, “What possibly could they add to this story?”  They have upped the stakes and brought the Elite Hunting Club to America.  In the first two Hostel films, Elite Hunting had a factory in Slovakia, but a location in America only makes it more terrifying for America viewers.  It has taken over our homeland.

We are introduced to Carter (Kip Parde) and Scott (Brian Hallisay), buddies that are heading to Las Vegas for Scott’s bachelor party.  Immediately we are told of some minor history between Carter and Scott’s wife to be, a tiny detail that will come back at the end of the film.

The added element to Hostel: Part III is the desire to kill someone you already know, versus a random stranger you have no attachment to.  They also add gambling among the high rollers.  Rich pricks bet on how long people will survive random torture.  Mike (Skyler Stone), for example, is strapped to a chair and a “doctor” peels his face off while the audience applauds his artistry.  In addition, they bet to see how long it takes for him to beg for his family.  In his case, one minute and fifty-eight seconds is all it took.

Justin (John Hensley), on the other hand, is tied to a chair and shot with numerous arrows.  He survives nine arrows.  He whispers, “It’s ok,” to the shooter before she puts one into his brain to shut him up.

Kendra’s (Sarah Habel) line, “Nobody knows anybody,” is another big hint about why Carter brought Scott to Las Vegas.  Turns out he lured Scott to Vegas and joined the Elite Hunting Club to kill his best friend.  Scott’s death is the main event.  Carter states he doesn’t feel the rush from killing another human anymore.  “I need to kill someone that matters,” he tells Scott.  Rewind back to the nonchalant comment about the history between Carter and Scott’s fiancée.  Bingo.  There’s your flaming obvious motive.

But, the joke’s on Carter.  The Elite Hunting Club has show stopping ideas of their own.  The battle between Carter and Scott is a testosterone filled one: swords, knifes, chainsaws.  Scott quickly kills (or so we think) his friend and removes the bologna on his forearm with the bloodhound tattoo.

When it comes to gore, Hostel Part III is lacking.  While some of the deaths were creative, the amount of blood was limited.  Sure, there’s a nifty bit where Scott cut a guys arm off.  Blood actually sprays onto the camera.  But other than that, it seems they tried to make Hostel more of an action flick.  Whether horror or action, it lacks as either genre.

Of all the (current) Hostel films, the third installment is by far my least favorite.  I suppose I have a soft spot for the female empowerment of the second film.  The story in Hostel Part III was weak and under developed.  They could have had so much more.  More substance.  More blood.  More torture.  At least they tried to add a new element to the story.

Have Questions or Comments? Feel free to e-mail me at: MKHorror@yahoo.com

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02/11/13

Hostel: Part II (2007)

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Author’s Note:  All articles on MK Horror contain spoilers.

Article written by Maggie K. Ward

Distributed by Lionsgate.  Poster design by Ignition Print.

Distributed by Lionsgate. Poster design by Ignition Print.

Three naïve American girls, Beth (Lauren German), Lorna (Heather Matarazzo), and Whitney (Bijou Philips), studying abroad take a trip to Slovakia where they discover the horrors behind the hostel and the Elite Hunting Club.  Hostel Part II takes the story presented in the original film and shows the viewers a different angle.  We learn what it is like to be the torturer, the ones desiring to take another human life.

We learn how torturers are paired with their victims: a ruthless bidding battle between the rich schmoes that feel they are missing something in the world.  And obviously killing someone will make them feel better?  Beth’s winning bidder, Todd (Richard Burgi) eagerly calls his friend, Stuart (Roger Bart), a nervous businessman that seems out of place for a killer.

Two key elements about Beth are brought up within the first half hour of the film.  She hates being called a cunt.  The word actually causes her extreme uncontrollable anger.  Also, “She could pretty much buy Slovakia if she wanted to,” says Whitney.  Beth has enough money to do whatever she wants.

Todd and Stuart receive their Elite Hunting hound tattoos as part of their contract, and their beepers that will inform them of their readied victim.  These look a lot the buzzers you would get when waiting for a seat at Apple Bees, but who possibly noticed that…

At a festival, a fairly unattractive man asks Beth to dance; however, she declines.  He states, “I could have helped you.”  This teases the audience because we are unsure if he meant with the dance, or with the horrors to come.  She then meets her torturer, and Stuart is terrified by almost giving himself away.

Todd refers to killing a person to loosing ones virginity.  He mentioned seeing someone come back from summer break and just knowing that he had sex for the first time.  Something is different and you can feel it.  He says, “Like an animal, you can sense it.”  He seems to think you can look at a person and sense the fact that they’ve killed someone.  He wants that power.

Lorna’s torture is probably one of the most terrifying torture scenes I have seen in the large quantity of torture porn films I have watched.  Torture isn’t about causing pain to another person.  It is about having power over another person.  The torturer quite literally rubs her power in (Lorna’s blood all over her body), and gets off at the experience of slicing a body and feeling the warmth of Lorna’s blood drip on her naked skin.

Throughout the film, Todd is eager to get his hands on his victim, while Stuart seems unsure and almost unwilling to participate. However, the tables turn very quickly when Todd realizes just how terrifying it is to kill another human being.  As scary as it is, this scene is actually rather funny (in a sick, twisted way, of course).  Todd attempts to stick a saw in Whitney’s face, however the power cord is too short, and it comes unplugged before it touches her.  When he finally does accidently stick the saw in her face, he’s shocked at what he did, and attempts to leave.  The people at Elite Hunting don’t appreciate this and release a couple dogs to attack him.

Stuart’s evil side now appears.  He sees what happened to his friend, and finishes his victim.  The filmmakers tease us and don’t show a thing when he kills her.  Back in Beth’s room, he acts out pent up scenes he’s wanted to do with his wife.  She outsmarts him.  She threatens his most prized possession, his penis, and demands a buy out.

Stuart makes the mistake of calling her a cunt, she removes his manliness, insist they let him bleed to death, while tossing the removed article to a dog to be eaten.  This has to be the best ending to a movie ever.  Period.  Wow.  But wait it gets better!  Beth cuts off Axelle’s head and the Bubble Gum Gang plays soccer with it.  Score!

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