The Spooky Truth About Spunk: The Low-down on Working in a Porn Store (Part I of III)

About being able to work in a porn store, someone close to me said: “You have to be off in some small way to even be able to apply for employment.” I can’t say I disagree with him. Maybe I’m off in some way because I once worked at one. The experience was, to say the least, unforgettable. 

You almost have to be there, but I can describe the atmosphere for you. Much to the displeasure of the atheist/agnostic/libertarian “less rules” crowd, there is that unfortunate tendency of announcing sexual freedom and looseness of regulations that works against the overall happiness of mankind. That tendency is seen when the most deeply disturbing of behaviors, which rests within the dark, sticky reservoirs of a pervert’s mind come right to the surface for all to be repulsed by.

Another Denzel Washington/Tony Scott Train Movie

Movie Review: Unstoppable (2010)
Spoilers: none

---

Unstoppable, starring Denzel Washington, Rosario Dawson, Chris Pine, and T.J. Miller, is loosely based on the true story of a train gone out of control while coming from an Ohio train station in 2001. Denzel Washington plays an experienced engineer, Frank, alongside a rookie fresh out of training, Will Coalson (Chris “Star Trek” Pine). Connie (Dawson “Seven Pounds”) is an eye-pleasing and always likable train station manager.

Due to a conductor's error, train #777 is pushed into acceleration mode with the air brakes unset and no one on board to stop it. This leads to efforts on the part of a host of law enforcement officials and crisis prevention managers to stop the half-mile-long load of fuels and lethal chemicals before it goes off the rails in the well populated city of Stanton and causes disaster.

Unstoppable has all the spirit needed for a hero's movie based on a true story, but as such, its synthesized feel and artificial drama is evident, never exceeding bare-minimum viewing expectations.

Adrenaline junkies who long to see the carrying out of the resolution of an impending crisis might not notice them as much, but Unstoppable's hammy characters and tiring cutaways to news footage of the event and overdone emotional reactions of loved ones is a bit noticeable to the rest of us, especially towards the end.

What it loses in originality and overall quality it arguably starts to make up for in its simple, straightforward story that will win over large portions of the general viewing audience, particularly with older viewers.

The main objective of the film’s plot – with it’s cold, lifeless void of surprises beyond the internal family and occupational struggles that Frank and Will face – is all we have to chew on. And what it gives us isn’t much more than your average, made-for-TV movie.

Everyone may work together to stop a runaway train, but no one “on board” this film will do much to be interesting or emotionally engaging. Tony Scott, the director who brought us the limp 2009 remake of The Taking of Pelham 123 brings us the exciting, (but regrettably empty) Unstoppable.

(JH)

---

Grade: C- (2 stars)
Rated: PG-13 (for moments of intense peril, language, and adult themes)
Director: Tony Scott
Summary: With an unmanned, half-mile-long freight train barreling towards a city, a veteran engineer and a young conductor race against the clock to prevent a catastrophe.
Starring: Denzel Washington "Frank," Chris Pine "Will," Rosario Dawson "Connie," Ethan Suplee "Dewey," Kevin Dunn "Galvin," Kevin Corrigan "Inspector Werner," Kevin Chapman "Bunny," Lew Temple "Ned," T.J. Miller "Gilleece"
Genre: Drama / Thriller
Trailer

Suckline

Movie Review: Skyline (2010)
Spoilers: none

---

Aliens that appear to swim in the air like those machines from The Matrix, having too many eyes and the ability to lure in captives with shining light, come to earth to kidnap human beings. That’s what the science fiction film Skyline is about.

But I needn’t mention that it’s science fiction. This film goes so far out of its way to remind the audience of that fact that it’s pitiful. There aren’t that many scenes where blue light from alien crafts and eyes aren’t glaring back at us, or where floating alien droids invading apartment buildings with their long, octopus arms can’t be seen with an inexplicably high level of interest in a measly few humans hunkered down in one particular high-rise apartment complex.

These aliens operate a lot like those from Independence Day (1996), but these are after human beings for biological reasons instead of an outright desire to destroy the species. The military is a little slow to respond, not to mention outmatched by this blue-lighted, alien technology. But who wouldn’t be when you turn on fifty-quadrillion LED flashlights?

And this mass invasion that immediately put earth at war with extraterrestrials has caused a “mass” panic with fewer people than I’ve ever seen in a big budget production. I guess that’s what frees up the aliens’ time, allowing them to invade apartment buildings and grab up human beings with those long, creepy octopus arms—just not enough subjects running around panicking on the streets to experiment on in Los Angeles, so it would seem.

L.A. is the scene of the action. It is where two friends and their families met up a day earlier. Eric Balfour (24’s “Milo”) is Jarrod, married to Elaine (Scottie Thompson). Both are happy with their lives, but Jarrod's friend Terry (Donald Faison) springs on them that he wants them to move out to L.A. to continue doing business. But that’s as far as the discussion goes. We meet nearly all of the cast in the movie at a party the night before the attacks begin, very reminiscent of what we saw in Cloverfield (2008).

But Cloverfield had an on-the-edge-of-your-seat suspense that just about made you crap your pants. This one, on the other hand, is a poorly acted, scifi-on-steroids melodrama that wants acclaim as an action flick while practically begging intelligent viewers to walk out or turn it off. 

It is a technical show-off, all over the map in terms of whom it seeks to impress, which is apparently anyone who wants to see an apartment-full of survivors repeat intense exclamations in a crisis (“Open the door,” “Like it or not, you gotta be strong,” and “He's right. Someone's going to come, right?”) Watch as a security guard with a commanding presence (David Zayas) tries to put a credible plan of action together when the ones before it failed. Take a still-shot of these aliens at any point and you have a perfect screensaver or free blog template header pic.

But any drooling dimwit who is impressed with alien octopus technology and extraterrestrial blue lighting alone is going to be totally, totally impressed! If that is all you are looking for, then this is your film. But those with a respectable level of intelligence deserve to know: This steaming pile of doo-doo is a scrapheap re-put-together of The Matrix, Independence Day, and Cloverfield.

There will come a time (I hope it has not yet passed us by!) when entertainment will step up to prefer story over striking effects. I think it is a time still in the future because the novelty of shiny things and space aliens has not yet worn off. I’m going to be optimistic and say we’re just not there yet.

(JH)

---

Grade: D- (1 star)
Rated: PG-13 (for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, some language, and brief sexual content)
Directors: Colin Strause, Greg Strause
Summary: Strange lights descend on the city of Los Angeles, drawing people outside like moths to a flame where an extraterrestrial force threatens to swallow the entire human population off the face of the Earth.
Starring: Eric Balfour "Jarrod," Scottie Thompson "Elaine," Brittany Daniel "Candice," Crystal Reed "Denise," Neil Hopkins "Ray," David Zayas "Oliver," Donald Faison "Terry"
Genre: Sci-Fi / Thriller
Trailer

For Colored Girls

Movie Review: For Colored Girls (2010)
Spoilers: none

---

As a minister, I once visited a church where I was the guest speaker. Being shown around by that church's preacher, we came to the podium where I noticed a peculiar shape on the wall. I got closer to see what this peculiar box was next to the thermostat just before the baptistery. I looked inside and there was a patch of red. It looked like blood. It was blood. Underneath it was a gold plaque that said: “The Fruits of Sin.”

When I asked what that meant, the preacher laughingly told me: “Oh, before me, this church had a preacher who started fooling around with another man's wife. The husband found out about it and came up here and hit the man in the face and the blood spattered on the wall. After firing the preacher, the elders decided not to clean it off, but to use it as a teaching tool.”

Like this crimson and undeniably effective teaching tool, For Colored Girls is a movie with a title that stands out. It takes a dated, partially derogatory ethnic reference and makes it into a three-worded reminder of times less diverse, less sympathetic to racial sensitivity.

The movie is based on a play of the same name in part written by black feminist Ntozake Shange, author of the award-winning novel, Betsey Brown. Shange tells a story in a series of poems of the struggles of being black and female. The characters were originally known by colors only, but have been given names in the film adaptation.

Like most of Tyler Perry's works, this one is the result of a deep contemplation of pain – only indirectly based on reality – but built by a director who, above all things, knows his target audience.

The film hones in on the lives of 8 women in different living situations whose paths cross in odd ways. Crystal (Kimberly Elise) is an abused spouse with two kids who are equally victims of a defunct and abusive Iraq war vet with a chronic drinking problem. Gilda (Phylicia Rashad) is a nosy but caring landlord who only wants to help the troubled tenants in her building of flights and flights of stairs and no elevators.

Juanita (Loretta Devine) runs a charity to get medical help for inner-city kids. She lectures women on caring for their bodies and using protection, but she struggles with following her own advice.

Jo (Janet Jackson) is Crystal's boss, a sharp “business bitch” who has not the time, nor the place for forgetfulness or failure. Alice (Whoopi Goldberg) is a religious kook and mother to two wayward girls in Gilda's less-than-upscale apartment complex. She has some very strange views on abortion for a religious nutter, but they are right in line with the film's pro-feminist prose that, although well written, seems out of place when the poetic run-downs are rattled off midway thru or after a rape scene or domestic dispute.

The movie opens with Perry's usual blending of high-class and low-class black society elements, nourished and fed in a smooth, soap opera-style melodrama that doesn't win much initial interest. The problem becomes less apparent, but then you face another.

The drama manufactured is the product of hardcore exploitation based on rape, poverty, molestation, domestic abuse, alcoholism, and infidelity. Take the darkest adulterations of the family and put them together into one movie, then write into it the chauvinistic double standards women must contend with on a social basis, and you have For Colored Girls.

For that reason, the film can't help but be moving. The question is, should you be moved? Does it make much sense to cry from witnessing another's sad plight when the worst of the worst elements were thrown in precisely for the purpose of injecting those tumultuous emotions to push our buttons?

Not all of these characters hit one out of the park, but it is evident that the goal of Perry's vision was achieved. A lot of us don't want or need any more drama, but for those who will entertain it, Perry has something worthwhile.

(JH)

---

Grade: C+ (2 ½ stars)
Rated: R (for some disturbing violence including a rape, sexual content, and language)
Director: Tyler Perry
Summary: Each of the women portray one of the characters represented in the collection of twenty poems, revealing different issues that impact women in general and women of color in particular.
Starring: Kimberly Elise "Crystal / Brown," Janet Jackson "Jo / Red," Loretta Devine "Juanita / Green," Thandie Newton "Tangie / Orange," Anika Noni Rose "Yasmine / Yellow," Kerry Washington "Kelly / Blue," Tessa Thompson "Nyla / Purple," Phylicia Rashad "Gilda," Whoopi Goldberg "Alice / White," Macy Gray "Rose," Michael Ealy "Beau Willie," Omari Hardwick "Carl," Richard Lawson "Frank," Hill Harper "Donald," Khalil Kain "Bill"
Genre: Drama
Trailer

It's No Planes, Trains, and Automobiles!

Movie Review: Due Date (2010)
Spoilers: none

---

It seemed like it would be the same drill…bag switches at an airport, leading to a very contrived set-up of unbelievable circumstances to get two unrelated and totally opposite personalities into taking a road trip together. Well, yes, it turned out to be the same drill.

Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) is heading back to Los Angeles to join his wife as they give birth to their first child. He runs into Ethan Tremblay (Zach “The Hangover” Galifianakis), and that's when things start to go frustratingly wrong. As he finds himself banned from flying, the only way to get home and make the arrival of his new baby is to ride with the scatterbrained, socially inept, Hollywood-aspiring actor headed for the same city.

Due Date is infuriating instead of funny, at least that's the state of affairs as it opens with just about zero laughs and as much frustration as a white nationalist in a diversity training seminar. Both Downey and Galifianakis can project their emotions incredibly well, so much so that they can actually make you like a crappy movie. Without the two of them, this would have been one.

They begin the road trip with standoff-ishly opposite personalities and they try to "break the ice" with a stupid questions & answers session, which of course doesn't work. They realize to a yet greater degree that they really aren't meant to get along, and so Peter has to decide on the usual moral dilemmas: A. Do I desert the guy at a rest stop and take his ride? B. Do I beat the guy senseless and take his ride? Or C. Do I tell him exactly how I feel about him with a host of fight-provoking expletives, spit on his dog, and then get into a truck with a friend and take off?

When they do warm up to each other, it follows an ass-kicking, near-accidents, followed by an actual accident, and the need for drugs to deal with the pain from the accident. Due Date tries to be Planes, Tranes, and Automobiles (1987), but it isn't. It's the story of a dramatic weirdo who carries around his dead dad's ashes in a coffee can and an out-of-luck neurotic with an anger problem who, on rare occasion, is not above punching kids in the stomach.

A few paces later, the two find themselves at the house of a drug dealer: “This chick is legit. I met her on Craig's List,” Ethan says before entering. This bong-sympathetic patsy eventually gets funny, with its wheelchair-bound, baton-wielding vet who kicks ass and a cute man-and-dog masturbation episode inside a car. Lovely. And I forgot to tell you, Due Date is intermittently disgusting.

It practically has to be immodest to raise the shock value and maintain viewers in spite of its humorless and anger-tinged opening. It is also suspenseful, leading to funny—a result of what you have when you start with a tug-of-war between ‘angry serious’ and ‘crudely funny’ and manage to have star power in between.

Few movies I've watched have been with more intensity, which would ordinarily be a compliment. But here, I was just curious to see how much more awkward things would become. And then, halfway satisfied, the experience left painfully unanswered, plot-hole-looming questions that can't be forgotten about (reading further will not spoil any jewels)...

If indeed the airport acknowledged that what happened on the plane was “a misunderstanding,” how was Peter still put on the no-fly list? The no-fly list is maintained by Homeland Security. How do they make the first part of the trip on $60 bucks? They did an awful lot of driving before getting to Dallas and meeting Darryl (Jamie Foxx). How does a penniless Peter come back with coffee and donuts? Is it implied that he was finally wired money the next morning? And leading Federales on a chase across the border in one of the most easily recognizable vehicles in existence, in which they complete their 2,000-mile trip…how does that happen?

And what happened to Darryl? He was supposed to be there for the delivery of the baby, but there's no sign of him. He was also supposed to be there to drive his car back from L.A. Nope, nada, not a single sign of him. Peter's handcuff in the hospital? Well, it's gone when he wakes up. No police called or anything. But I never said it was a Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.

I'm not happy about failing it for its hiccups, though some would say I should be. In the long haul, Downey and Galifianakis won me over as two stars shining far brighter than the rather stunted material would otherwise allow for. Due Date was more emotionally meaningful than that juvenile excuse of a sensation, that Old School-ish quasi-disappointment known as The Hangover, but they deserve about the same grade.

(JH)

---

Grade: C- (2 stars)
Rated: R (for language, drug use, and sexual content)
Director: Todd Philips
Summary: High-strung father-to-be Peter Highman is forced to hitch a ride with aspiring actor Ethan Tremblay on a road trip in order to make it to his child's birth on time.
Starring: Robert Downey Jr. "Peter Highman," Zach Galifianakis "Ethan Tremblay," Michelle Monaghan "Sarah Highman," Jamie Foxx "Darryl," Juliette Lewis "Heidi," Danny McBride "Lonnie"
Genre: comedy
Trailer

Superman Never Had This Much Fun

Movie Review: Megamind (2010)
Spoilers: none

---

Will Ferrell, Brad Pitt, Tina Fey, and Jonah Hill star (voice) in the sensational, Superman-slamming 3-D action-comedy, Megamind.

With a lot to offer everyone, this moving story about two orphaned aliens that arrive on earth and grow to become hero and villain is packed full of refined Dreamworks-quality animation and enough excitement to render the 3-D aspect totally unneeded.

Arriving on earth to escape doom on their home world, Megamind (Ferrell) and Metro Man (Pitt) are given very different upbringings. Drawing the short end of the stick on fortune and in the throws of despair, Megamind vows to become the greatest super-villain of all time. But when the opportunity for world domination arises, the sharply ambitious Megamind finds himself in want. His perspective further shifts when he meets a spit-fire reporter, Roxanne Ritchi (Fey) and creates his own new nemesis, Tighten (Hill), presenting a whole new set of challenges.

Megamind is crafty and delightful, always managing to stay one step ahead of its audience, and with plenty of surprises. Ferrell’s passion and Fey’s enthusiasm are as evident as Jonah Hill’s vibrant rhythm in a character that bears close resemblance to the actor himself.

The colorful clashes of personality and clever plot don’t allow it to dodge the glaring criticism that it borrows a bit too much from other recent animated works (i.e. Despicable Me). The mimicking ray guns, minions, and Grinch-like personality is a towering detraction from this potentially A-quality film, but it scores high enough to absorb the blow and keep on moving.

Megamind is lightly humored as it softly parodies Superman and all things “super,” with powerful commentary on the nature and identity of both hero and villain. This, by itself, makes it a heroic addition to the Dreamworks line-up.

(JH)

---

Grade: B+ (3 ½ stars) Recommended!
Rated: PG (for action and some language)
Director: Tom McGrath
Summary: Two orphaned aliens arrive on earth and grow to become hero and villain.
Starring: Will Ferrell "Megamind" (voice), Brad Pitt "Metro Man" (voice), Tina Fey "Roxanne Ritchi" (voice), Jonah Hill "Tighten" (voice), David Cross "Minion" (voice), Justin Theroux "Megamind's Father" (voice), Ben Stiller "Bernard" (voice), Jessica Schulte "Megamind's Mother" (voice), Tom McGrath "Lord Scott / Prison Guard" (voice)
Genre: Animation / Comedy / Family
Trailer

Best Worst Movie: Crazy Cult Classic Goes Crazier

Documentary Review: Best Worst Movie (2009/2010 DVD)
Spoilers: NA

---

Michael Paul Stephenson's Best Worst Movie is a documentary film about the making of the 1990 low-budgeter, Troll 2. So, in essence, the scope of this review will be covering two movies rather than one. Until recently, Troll 2 could be watched legally and for free at Hulu.com. Sadly, it is no longer available. However you are able to see it, please realize that you owe it to yourself to see this impossibly bad Hindenburg of a horror film if you have not already. Keep reading and I'll explain why.

It was the summer of 1989 when filming began. It lasted three weeks in a small town in Utah. Michael Paul Stephenson was the child actor who landed the lead role of “Joshua Waits.” In this cultic-ular Italian-made movie, 10-year-old Joshua receives visions from his deceased grandfather, “Grandpa Seth” (Robert Ormsby), to persuade his family to leave the town of NILBOG where they are visiting before they are forced to eat green goblin foods. Eating these foods will turn them into a dissolving, leaf-and-branch, tree-human compost substance, killing them and making them an irresistible delicacy for the hungry goblins as it sends them into a gluttonous frenzy. These goblins don’t like bologna sandwiches, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. 

If you are already tempted to hunt around online for quick comments and reviews to give you an idea of just how bad it might be, please don't click away just yet. It should be considered an outright impossibility to overstate the depths to which Troll 2 sinks. The movie happens to be one of the few films on Rotten Tomatoes.com to get a full-on 0%. This is not counting the tons of movie blogs and websites that have it at the very top of every “Worst Movies of All Time” list ever compiled. 

Not to be outdone by other super-stinker contenders, Troll 2 ably tops the likes of Alone in the Dark (2005), Mission to Mars (2000), Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964), Monster a-Go Go (1965), Eegah (1962), and last, but certainly not least, Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966). This last one is no doubt a second-place contender to what occupies the number one slot in so many eyes: Troll 2. “And this is my movie about that movie,” says Stephenson.

Troll 2 is a stand-alone film, not in any way related to Troll (1985) or any other films with similar titles. Via admission of Stephenson, the name “Troll 2” is evidently a shameless attempt of Italian director Claudio Fragasso to ride on the comparatively successful coattails of the earlier, more popular 1985 film. Gratuitously bad as it is, Troll 2 is a freak not just in quality, but in name. 

And there are no trolls in Troll 2, not even a mention of them – only goblins – a point that Fragasso and wife/writer Rossella Drudi chalk up in a question & answer forum to a matter of inter-language semantics. When asked how he feels about the movie, Fragasso replied: “I think it is very good movie. If others say it is the worst movie, that is their problem, not my problem.”

Warmly inspiring, as it deeply touches a wide array of emotions, Best Worst Movie is more than your ordinary documentary. It follows the lives of over 90 percent of the cast through the 20-year-long journey of life after Troll 2. It is funny, informative, and even a bit disturbing.

Joshua's TV father “Michael” (George Hardy) and sister “Holly” (Connie Young) and mother “Diana” (Margo Prey) are reunited in film as they share what it was like to be apart of the making of the world's worst movie. Joining the not-forgotten cast is “Arnold” (Darren Ewing), “Elliot Cooper” (Jason Wright), “Drew” (Jason Steadman), and the infamously sexy “Goblin Queen,” Creedence Leonore Gielgud (Deborah Reed), among others.

The documentary opens and spends a great deal of time with Hardy in his ordinary life, as this well-respected dentist and father is followed in his everyday routine. Nearly stealing the spotlight whenever he comes into view with his dynamic, movie-star smile and immaculate level of cheerleader charisma, Hardy is a hometown Alabama boy who opens up, along with the family and friends interviewed, on what it is like to be thrust into the spotlight 20 years down the road.

Perhaps the most entertaining focus is on the “behind the scenes” aspect of making the film. “I had no idea what I was saying or what I was doing. I don't know where we went or what we did, and I had no idea what the theme was. I was amazed at how creepy I was.” so said the NILBOG storeowner, played by Don Packard. 

“We would sit there for hours and try and do an analysis of the scenes, and we couldn't,” says Hardy. In addition to a heavy language barrier between the Italian crew and American cast, director Fragasso knew exactly what he wanted and barked out orders accordingly: “Say the line! Say the line! Say the line!”

The cast reunited at the same old house (which had not changed much since the time of filming) with the lot of them again going over what it was like to shoot each scene. Fragasso's English is much better now than it used to be, but his personality has not changed. His vision for the film, if it were made today, would still result in the same hilariously mangled conceptual mess that it is. “How did I know there was a fire extinguisher there that whole time?” Hardy asks, still trying to make sense of his actions. “That’s no important!” the intimidating Italian director yells back.

The ultra-low budget and stingy provisions for the production were also an issue. Steadman recalls a time when his shirt was lost by the crew before his scenes were finished. Instead of being provided with another, he was told to go and buy one at his own expense. It is revealed in the plenteous commentary in the DVD Extras that the woman who rented them the house was extremely perturbed when Fragasso decided to rummage through her property to find food instead of springing to feed everyone. If the reports are true, it appears copyright laws weren't the only thing of low importance here.

Troll 2 was heavily promoted by the Utah Film Commission, but it won't surprise you to hear that the only way it was going to scare anyone except little kids was to scare them for all the wrong reasons. “Michael, your crappy movie is on again,” Stephenson recalls being told over and over by an uncle. As a young actor, he was devastated that the golden turkey of a movie he had hoped would put his name in lights could only be a blight on any acting resume. 

But something happened. All these years later, the world began witnessing the birth of this now crazily addictive cult classic as it continues to amass crowds of admirers from all over. How does a movie fail in every gradable category and yet still draw such fringe interest? Tell me how a movie that is found in the “Holy Fucking Shit!” section of a video store become this much of a sensation? “The holy grail of bad movies” has people buying t-shirts and memorabilia...this is a sick world! 

When asked what it is like to be the director of the world's worst film, Fragasso stated: “Being considered the worst movie is almost as much a compliment as being considered the best. It means I've made an impression.” And it's hard to find a flaw in his logic, which demands that we ask the question again: Is it really such a bad film? Is it truly a failure? Dare we call it that?

Yes, the extremes meet. And I suppose it's undeniable anyway, seeing Hardy, Stephenson, and the rest of the cast signing autographs and receiving standing ovations before crowds of hundreds, which proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that being a star in the world’s worst movie is about as grand an honor as being a star in the world’s best.

(JH)

---

Grade: A+ (4 stars) Recommended!
Rated: No MPAA rating
Director: Michael Paul Stephenson
Summary: A look at the making of the film Troll 2 and its journey from being crowned the "worst film of all time" to a cherished cult classic.
Starring: Michael Stephenson "Himself," George Hardy "Himself," Darren Ewing "Himself," Jason Steadman "Himself," Jason Wright "Himself," Ryan Martin "Himself," Kelly Jo Minter "Herself," Robert Ormsby "Himself," Don Packard "Himself," Scott Weinberg "Himself," Connie Young "Herself"
Genre: Documentary
Trailer

Jigsaw Gets Back at Bitches Who Cheat!

Movie Review: Saw 3-D (2010)
Spoilers: none

---

The director and writers of Saw 3-D must have looked back at this now bled-dry series and said what every smart filmmaker would when the words “horror” and “Halloween” are found together in the same sentence: Why not go for the cash kitty with the Saw series this Halloween one more time? Aren’t young, stupid teens worth that much? Why not take their money?

Granted, there's nowhere to go with the characters or the plot. They know that. And because of this and other unnecessary sequels, the Saw series will be the subject of parodies for years to come. That didn't stop them from cashing in on the newer generation being willing to spend money to go and see the worst acted yet among Saw films—more badly acted than part II with its room full of kids at each other's throats, and worse than part IV with its abysmally confusing flashbacks taken to a new level...and worse in terms of quality to all others of the series after part III that shouldn't have existed anyway.

Saw 3-D opens with 3 teens trapped in a large glass booth between a rigged buzz saw. Either the cheating floozy who got them there can die, or one of the two boys said to have her heart can force the spinning blade into the intestines of the other. It's another in a new series of grueling “games”—games we've by now gotten tired of. And this time, they are more petty and insignificant than ever before.

The games continue with Tobin Bell as Jigsaw, with Betsy Russell as his wife, and Costas Mandylor as Mark Hoffman who continues the personalized agenda-killing in continuation of Jigsaw's work. While Bell has a very brief appearance in this one, the matter of Hoffman and Kramer's wife is wrapped up, along with a needlessly introduced and concluded series of new games.

This final addition focuses on the moral consequences of turning a blind eye and a deaf hear to evil, but with the pettiness of the latest work centering on a teen love triangle and the payback of a racist who judges on skin color, the moral of the story is rather juvenile, not to mention lost in an exploitative gorefest that has neither shame, nor legitimacy of story.

There is no reliance on ordinary plot continuity in the Saw series, especially in the later ones, where any event(s) could have come before or after others with the simple employment of a few flashbacks. In actuality, there is no “simple” about it, as these flashbacks will frustrate the audience by prompting them to see the ending again to make sense of it. This (thankfully) final addition uses far fewer flashbacks at its end.

What it saves in a flurry of flashbacks it makes up for in vivid evisceration. Saw 3-D is bloody enough for the world's worst gorehound. The many and long-running torture scenes try extra hard to be as sadistic as possible. They succeed...with flying intestines and the color red. There’s no question at all that this will give the fans of extreme torture exactly what they want. To those who can't stand it, this is unwatchable.

At the beginning, we meet the most influential of Jigsaw survivors, Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flanery), who inadvertently brings on the next onslaught of games. While the repugnant melodrama of the first half is later buried in the waist-deep pool of blood and guts in the second, it is not forgotten. The characters are a no-sell while the whole plot is an excursion in futility.

The completion runs to a final glimpse back to where it all started, leaving the viewer to at least want to look back with a modicum of respect at what began as a limit-tester of blood, gore, and mystery in horror.  

(JH)

---

Grade: D+ (1 ½ stars)
Rated: R (for sequences of grisly bloody violence and torture, and language)
Director: Kevin Greutert
Summary: As a deadly battle rages over Jigsaw's brutal legacy, a group of Jigsaw survivors gathers to seek the support of self-help guru and fellow survivor Bobby Dagen, a man whose own dark secrets unleash a new wave of terror.
Starring: Tobin Bell "Jigsaw / John," Costas Mandylor "Hoffman," Betsy Russell "Jill," Cary Elwes "Dr. Gordon," Sean Patrick Flanery "Bobby," Chad Donella "Gibson," Gina Holden "Joyce"
Genre: Horror / Mystery / Thriller
Trailer

Follow by Email

SHOWTIMES & TICKETS
Enter ZIP Code: