You have to love the 80s. It was a golden era for horror, and a time when horror could be fun as well as horrifying. Today a lot of horror movies go straight for the jugular and can be way too nasty They’re almost a test of endurance. That can’t be said for this rather under-appreciated 1988 remake of a 50’s b-movie of the same name.
When a meteor crashes near a small town, biker rebel Kevin Dillon (The Rescue) finds himself thrown into a battle for survival alongside high school cheerleader Shawnee Smith (Saw). Even as authority figures and adults dismiss the disappearances along with sightings of a weird goo … of course it’s up to the kids to find a way to stop what’s happening. Yeah, there’s nothing all that clever here, but it retains that b-movie tongue-in-cheek tone that perfectly suits such a silly concept, with cast all doing a great job of going along for the ride. Director Chuck Russell (A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors) piles on some effective gore with still great practical effects and a couple of genuine shocks (the kid in the sewer). Also I’d forgotten how likable Shawnee Smith is, and well Kevin Dillon’s always been a great bad-boy (where’s he gone?).
It reminded me at times of John Carpenter’s seminal The Thing remake but fares poorly in comparison due to clichéd characters and only passable acting, and that silly tone stops it from being scary even for a second. Yet as it stands this is still a great deal of fun and is certainly worth your time.
The Blu-ray is rather a pleasant surprise … image quality may seem a bit soft but colours are vibrant and overall the picture is clean, and free of any print damage. The sound gets the lossless 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio treatment, but seems to lack a bit of ‘punch’ overall. Extras feature a trailer and a director interview, but that’s it. Considering the movie at time of writing still lacks a UK Blu-ray release this Region B Australian release is a godsend.
I’m a bit late to the party on this one, the latest entry in one of my favourite horror franchises. I loved Saw I-III, was left a bit cold by part IV, then really enjoyed part V. So what made me skip this one at the cinema? Well to put it simply, I was getting tired of the yearly updates, and although I thought the previous entry was a step up, it still lacked the wow factor of the first three. It was as if, with each sequel, the story became too complicated and the big twist the franchise is famous for, became less impressive.
Well here we have Saw apprentice Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) continuing Jigsaw’s work beyond the grave (the genius serial killer bought it at the end of part III), and after doing away with his toughest adversary, fellow Special Agent Strahm, he’s free to finally finish the master killer’s work with the help of Jigsaw’s widow, who has all the ingredients in a box only she has the key to – and so, once again the game begins. The main victim this time around is an insurance officer who gives final judgement over people’s right to medical care, and has subsequently caused many to die due to the discovery of errors in their insurance claims. The exact kind of money-hungry life-is-cheap scum bag Jigsaw loves to put into his elaborate traps. This time we have some brilliantly wicked situations that I won’t spoil for you here only to say they will make you squirm and shudder in a way that only the Saw movies can – the quality here and imagination has never gone stale, and this is an epic gore fest you won’t easily forget. Tobin Bell’s Jigsaw returns, albeit in flashback and via video’s played to his hapless victims, and again he is excellent – both creepy and convincing as a man who understands the value of life as he faces death from an inoperable cancer. As always the Saw movies, this one included are great, pop-corn entertainment, perhaps getting a bit convoluted now for newbies to really get to grips with, but if like me you’re a seasoned fan, then this will still make for a thoroughly nasty but no less enjoyable evening’s viewing.