I had only seen the first movie in this franchise, and that was a really long time ago. One of my favorite things about Halloween is that Wal-Mart sells cheap horror DVD's, so I always put on my brave boy pants and go to the store I loath to check them out. This year they had all 5 Phantasm films for 20 bucks. Sweet. Thanks Wal-Mart, now please start paying your employees more money.
I can't believe it took me so long to watch this series!
The silver ball is just as I remembered, though I think I might have thought the effect was a little better back then. It is a very menacing, and WTF, device. The idea came to Coscarelli in a dream, and served as the basis for the entire film. Some of the other effects are bizarre, a few of which are pretty bad. The killer fly being the biggest offender. That thing is goofy as hell and I have no idea how a finger turns into an evil fly, even in an odd horror movie. The dwarves are a strange plot point and work much better when their robes are over their heads.
As far as story, I have no idea what is going on. There is an alien, monster, something – from another planet, dimension, somewhere – that comes to our world and steals dead bodies. To what end, we do not know. They never answer any of these questions, which isn’t really so bad, but I am very curious. I assume this stuff will be explained in later movies. It actually makes a lot of sense given the dream basis.
All-in-all, not bad.
The movie isn’t cut as erratically, but it still moves at a swift pace. The effects are better than the first – but how wouldn’t they be after 10 years? I especially enjoy the weird creature that comes out of Kim’s back in what I think is a dream. There is also a new gold death ball that bores holes through people. Nothing further is explained in this movie. I still don’t know what the Tall Man is, where he came from, or what he is doing all this for. The movie ends on a massive cliffhanger, just after the very unceremonious death of Reggie. Editor’s Note: Having now watched the 3rd movie, it seems that Reggie is not dead at all – so, cool.
Another awesome movie, though now I have to watch the next one instead of taking a nap. Damn cliffhangers!
So, the dwarves’ brains are taken out and put into the death balls. The one containing Mike’s brother, Jodie, from the first movie somehow turns good again(?) and lets Mike know where to go to find the Tall Man, but Mike gets taken prisoner. Road Trip part 2!
In an awesome Home Alone moment, a young boy kills 3 would-be intruders in a small town that has been completely killed off by the Tall Man. Reggie meets up with him, and they go and try to save Mike. Along the way they pick up another companion named Rocky who kicks ass with num-chuks. The three of them have a series of encounters until finally having another showdown with the Tall Man, culminating in yet another cliffhanger ending. This time it seems like Mike is dead, but we’ll see.
I am really enjoying this series.
Much more is explained in this movie. There was once an old scientist, Jebediah Morningside (what a great name) that was playing with dimensional travel. When he goes through a portal, the being that becomes the Tall Man takes his body. Mike goes through the portal and meets this Jebediah then runs way. I think this is why he has such a connection to the kid. Mike has telekinesis just as the Tall Man does. It isn’t really explained completely, but I think the Tall Man wants Mike as his new vessel.
But, in a running theme, we still don’t know exactly where the being comes from, why he is killing everyone, and what he is.
It is unclear which is the true reality, but I think they are saying that all the dimensions exist, and the Tall Man is a part of them all. I love this since alternate dimensions have until now had no real impact on Reggie and Mike.
A fantastic ending to the series even if the critics don’t agree.
This is a stupendous series that I can't recommend enough. If you are brave enough, take a little trip to Wally world and get your self a copy for cheap. I may watch them again right now.
Overall Series Rating:
The next marathon was supposed to be Sleepaway Camp, but I can't get a hold of copies of Return to Sleepaway Camp and Sleepaway Camp 4. I already know that they pretty much suck, so I don't really want to buy them. I'll get them eventually, but until then, the Sleepaway Camp marathon is on hold. Instead, I have Saw for you, as that was the winner of the latest poll.
I am also going to start including an overall score at the end of each marathon. This is not an aggregate, just a rating of my enjoyment of the series as a whole. This rating may be wildly different from the individual movie ratings.
This first movie is pretty simple. 2 men locked in a bathroom, chained to the pipes. One a doctor, the other a photographer hired to follow said doctor around. There is also a dead man with his brains blown out in the center of the room. It seems the doc has been stepping out on his family and needs to learn a lesson. Jigsaw has his family and will kill them if he doesn’t find a way out. A twisted game then plays out involving tape recorders, glow in the dark paint, and pig heads. Turns out that Jigsaw was the guy lying dead on the floor the whole time – not actually dead. This sets a little base for which the rest of the films build upon.
Meanwhile, Donnie tracks Jigsaw down – real name John Kramer – and he is dying of cancer. John directs the cops to watch the drama from the house unfold on video screens. John tells him that if he just waits patiently, his son will be returned to him, but hot-headed Donnie Wahlberger isn’t having it. He tracks down the house and goes there, while inside, people are dying off in fucked up ways.
It is then revealed that the kid has been locked safely in the safe the whole time, and the video they were watching wasn’t live. Everything happened before they found Jigsaw. Donnie wakes up chained to a pipe in the same bathroom as the first film and it is revealed that Amanda is now helping Jigsaw, intending to take over for him after he dies.
The acting in this movie is rather bad; at least from some of the actors, but the traps are cool. The most stand out moment being when Amanda gets thrown into the pit of syringes. That part is intense. I wasn’t as blown away by this one as the first, but I still didn’t see the ending coming.
The first 3 movies stand as a very good trilogy on their own, while the next three are basically another trilogy; though they are still all connected. This film is mostly about Amanda and what she is going through, and it plays very well. The acting in this movie is far better than the previous 2, but nothing to win any awards. I’ve always loved the dynamic between Amanda and John which isn't replicated as well with other characters in further installments.
Editor’s Note: The pig gut trap is by far the series’ most disgusting. Dig it.
It feels weird to shoehorn in another accomplice for Jigsaw, but there is really no other way to continue the franchise. I like all of the back story on John Kramer. How his wife runs a clinic for the under-privileged, and how one of those people killed his unborn baby. This leads John on the path to becoming Jigsaw.
This movie, and the next two, are pretty disjointed, but they work. The traps are still awesome, and the story, though implausible, works too.
Meanwhile, Strahm is on to Hoffman. He set the unbeatable trap because that man killed his sister. Strahm chases Hoffman, eventually getting to the same place as the 5 victims were. There is a glass box and a tape that tells Strahm to get in it. He doesn’t, instead throwing Hoffman in. The box sinks into the floor, saving Hoffman while the room closes in and crushes Strahm to death.
This one doesn’t really add a whole lot to the overall plot of the series but is still entertaining. The traps are probably the most boring out of all of them, and actually feel a bit repetitive. We do get some back story on Hoffman and how he was blackmailed by Jigsaw into helping him, and that is interesting, but all in all, the movie just drags.
In flashbacks, it is revealed that Amanda was there when the junky killed John’s unborn baby, and Hoffman had been using that to blackmail her. Jigsaw’s wife, Jill, captures Hoffman and puts him in a reverse bear trap with no means of escape. She then reveals that there was another envelope with Hoffman’s name on it in the box. Somehow, he does manage to escape, though badly wounded.
This movie is paced better than the last with better traps. It doesn’t recapture the magic of the first few films, but is pretty good none-the-less.
I am glad they ended it after this movie, but part of me wishes this one didn’t exist. It isn’t really bad or anything, it is just not a great way to end a marathon.
Editor’s Note: I am blind in my right eye, so I have absolutely no input on the 3D aspects of this movie.
All Done! Later this year we are going to get an 8th movie called Jigsaw. I am looking forward to it, but I am keeping my hopes low. I'll leave the trailer down below for you guys to check out. Up next is Phantasm, so look out for that. Cheers!
Overall Series Rating:
None of the movies in this series have ever gotten good reviews. I think 35% on rotten tomatoes is the highest that they could climb, yet all of them are fun to watch. I enjoy them all to some degree, and this is a good reason why critic reviews are often “inaccurate.” The purpose and type of movie is so very seldom taken into account when assigning a star rating. These movies will never win awards, and are full of silly plot holes and bad acting – but in this case, those things don’t matter. Not even a little bit. So my reviews will be based on what they are going for - same as I try to write all of my reviews.
Less than 300 million was spent to make all 6 films, yet they made nearly 1.3 billion dollars worldwide, in case you were wondering why they keep getting made. One thing I didn’t know, was that the movies are made by Constantin films, based out of Germany. The series is the highest grossing for the country. On a side note – they also put out the Neverending Story. Constantin has already announced a reboot of the series, but little is known about it. That stands to reason, given the cash cow that the films have been.
The series is also the highest grossing based on a video game, and I attribute this to Alice. Alice was never in the games, and therefore was not beholden to any preconceived notions. The creators were able to throw in all kinds of references while still making their own movies, with their own story. Too many video game movies find it important to stick to the plot of the game….and the truth is, most video game plots aren't complex and long enough to make a film worth seeing.
Art by Anthony Genuardi and alternate poster
There isn’t a lot of actual horror in this series; basically being an action franchise - but zombies - so it counts. I had a ball re-watching them and had forgotten just how fun they were if you are able to curb expectations. Still there is one thing that bugs me, and correct me if I missed it….What the hell happened to the army of Alices from the end of the 3rd/beginning of the 4th? Why didn’t they keep helping? Oh well, so it goes.
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