Well, as promised, this week's SAW is a classic from 1980. Also, it features the debut of some guy named Tom Hanks. That guy could be famous someday. Anyway, it's SPOILER time, one last call for movie time, so finish your popcorn and beer!
All right, let's get down to business. The movie begins with a couple making out in a blue car that seems like it's parked in the middle of a field. That seems pretty random. While he tries(and fails) to get his hand under her shirt, someone approaches the car. Like clockwork, the girl hears a noise outside, but her boyfriend doesn't. She whispers that it might be her boyfriend.(?) As they resume trying to peel each other's faces off with their teeth, both hear a loud noise. This time, the boyfriend, Don, decides to pummel the person outside.
The girl, now alone, starts to freak out almost immediately after Don leaves. She locks all of the doors, and tells Don that she thinks that he's playing a prank on her. She finds a heavy-duty flashlight in the car, and wipes away some condensation from the car window, then sloooowly unlocks the car door.
As Jane D'oh! steps outside, she decides that it would be smart to roam around in the dark to find Don. The good news? She finds Don. The bad news? She finds him hanging upside down from a tree, deader than the proverbial doorknob. As she is screaming and running...
Ah, it's a fake-out. We see a large crowd in a movie theatre, watching a slasher film. One young woman stands up and announces that she's going to the bathroom. Wow, I'm sure the audience in her theatre really needed to know that.
The woman walks down a staircase that appears to be stolen from a castle in Transylvania, then finds the restroom. She checks herself out, then we're forced to follow her into a stall. If another girl shows up with a cup, I'm quitting.
While she's squatting, she hears a noise. Thinking it's her friend Ruth, she calls out her name, but gets no response. She quietly(after yelling out her friend's name, I don't think stealth is on her side) gets off the toilet, pulls herself back together, then sprints back to the movie. She tries to tell Ruth what happened, but her friend just shushes her.
As the woman gets more nervous about someone stalking her, a person sits directly behind her in the theatre. While she tries to watch the movie, the person behind her sloooowly pulls a dagger out of his coat. At the exact moment that the girl onscreen is attacked, the guy in the theatre shoves his blade into our nervous girl's back, and she screams. As he twists and turns the knife, she dies, then he puts the weapon away and leaves.
Ruth feels her slump against her, and tells her that it's okay to watch the movie. She realizes that her friend, now known as Marie, isn't responding, and sees the blood on her back. Ruth screams, and the credits start rolling. In a brief moment of hilarity, the credits look like the ones from the Police Squad! movies, even down to the font and seeing the police bubble-light thingy driving around. Awesome...if the car drives through a women's' locker room or a Star Wars battle, I'm giving it 5 killer trees automatically.
A detective named Len Gamble walks into the crime scene, and is welcomed by the principal from The Breakfast Club. He's calling himself "Frank", so obviously he lost his job at the high school, and is now living with an alias. Frank leads Len over to Ruth, and asks her to tell them what happened.
After describing everything we just saw, Frank reveals to Len that the dead girl was about to get married. Apparently, Len was investigating a case involving a killer who fixated on young brides-to-be, but the trail went cold. Len decides that this is the killer's way of taunting him.
There's a shot of a bus driving down a deserted stretch of road, and the background music is a blatant rip-off of the theme from Halloween. The killer is on the bus, and has some kind of flashback. It's Len's wedding day, and the killer was there!
He made his way upstairs, and found Len's bride alone. She saw him, and it turns out that the killer is named Ray, and that he used to date Len's wife-to-be. She asked him to leave, then saw that Ray had a knife. He covered her mouth with his free hand, then Ray stabbed her to death. And that's pretty much the whole flashback. I guess Ray's not a "details" kind of guy.
New scene, new day, new couple. Her name is Amy, his is John Doe 1, since most of these characters haven't been introduced yet. She tells him not to have too much fun at his bachelor party, then a bus pulls up, filled with Boy Scouts...okay, what the HELL kind of movie did I rent?
Phew, this isn't Weekend at Neverland Ranch, the kids were just a ruse. It turns out that the women are having a party as well. I have no idea what the kids are for, but I'm not asking any questions. The bachelor party consists of Tommy, who is something of a horndog; Bernie, who I think is the guy who put together the bachelor party; and Phil the groom, whose name I looked up on the internet. The bachelorettes are the bride Amy, of course; Joyce, a somewhat flaky-seeming brunette; and Nancy, a perky, cute preppy-type, based on her appearance thus far.
Back at the police precinct, Len is interviewing people from the movie theatre murder. No one saw anything, of course, because they were watching the movie. Even when the detective asks if anyone was seen leaving, there are no leads at all. Damn, there goes his trip to Dunkin Donuts.
The girls attend some kind of ballet class, where they get pretty disruptive with their chit-chat. After class, as they try to give Amy a pep talk(she's having second thoughts about the wedding), they mention another character, Marvin. He apparently dated Amy before she met Phil, and both of her friends thought he was cute.
As they walk out of the dance studio, they run into a college professor and his wife. Joyce has been sleeping with the professor to get better grades, and he tries to pretend not to know them in front of the wife. Oh, and the professor is a character actor who I recognize from lots of things(the first that came to mind was the Michael Douglas thriller The Game), so "yay me!", I guess.
Anyway, back to the movie. It's been only 20 minutes, but I feel like I've been watching this thing for months. The girls split up, and Amy ends up walking by herself, in a scene that looks like it was also pulled directly from Halloween. She somehow goes from a nice, quiet suburban neighborhood to the inner city in a matter of steps, and finds herself facing a group of televisions in a store window. She briefly admires her own face on the monitors then walks away, oblivious to the stalker standing directly behind her.
Amy stops at a bridal shop to admire the dresses, then nearly gets killed jaywalking. Her next stop is an ice cream parlor, where she suddenly realizes that she's being followed. Oh, and ice cream cones only cost 50 cents in this movie....I'd like to live in their world! As Amy nervously leaves the shop behind, she gets a sudden fright from Marvin, who puts his hand on her shoulder. Nice jump-scare, movie.
Marvin reveals that he knows Amy's schedule like the back of his hand. They argue about her impending wedding, and then Marvin begs Amy not to marry Phil, but she leaves. Oh, and Marvin's studying forensic medicine. Is that a hint about our killer, or a red herring? No, wait...we already know the killer's identity, so that last bit of info was completely unnecessary.
Back at the bridal shop, Amy gets fitted for her dress. The store owner, Ralph, gives Amy a pep talk about marriage, then has her model the dress while he starts taking it in. Back in the dressing room, Amy sees herself in a mirror, and seems more depressed than excited. And that's when she strips. Somebody out there likes me!
Of course, the nanosecond that she gets in her underwear, Amy senses danger. She calls out Ralph's name, but there's no response. Then Marvin pops his head in, and he and Amy share a hearty laugh over his sexual harassment. Man, I'd love to see this movie with today's audiences--I bet the female portion would have a riot over some of this material.
After Marvin leaves, Ralph starts putting away some gowns, and Ray pops out of nowhere to stab him. Amy remains clueless, and leaves the shop without incident. She ends up at the church where her wedding is set to take place, and prays at the feet of a crucified Jesus.
While praying, Amy sees blood trickling down from the statue, and the church organ starts playing on its own. She backs away, and a maniacal-looking priest pops in to frighten Amy half to death. He tells Amy that the "blood" is nothing more than water from a rusty pipe, and the organ music was caused by his pet cat walking on the keys. And his creepiness? Explain that!
As the priest walks Amy back to the exit, he assures her that it's normal to have second thoughts about marriage. While they get further away, the killer stands in a balcony area, watching and listening. With all of the teleporting, this guy must be part-Voorhees.
That evening, Amy is greeted by her bachelorette party. Somehow the group doubled in size, so good luck figuring out all the new names! After a fairly lackluster scene showing Amy opening her gifts, Ray can be seen skulking around outside. Finally!
Joyce leaves the party early, after asking the others to cover for her if her folks call. She leaves the house without incident, and we get whisked back to the cops. Frank tells Len about Ralph's murder, and Len leaves to investigate the new crime scene. After Len leaves, Frank tells another detective that Len went crazy after his bride was murdered, and made capturing the killer an obsession.
Okay, I need to stop here for a sec. This movie has clearly shown the face of the killer numerous times. There's no doubt about his identity as the murderer, right? So why does the script keep bringing up characters who have mental health issues, expertise with criminal behavior, or weird motives for murder? I mean, if they wanted you to doubt the killer's identity, shouldn't they have cut out all of the scenes where we see his face? It's getting freakin' annoying!
*sigh* Anyway, back to the bachelorette party from Hell. The wine is flowing, and Amy reveals that Marvin's been around quite a bit. Nancy tells Amy that she's been flirting with a fellow jogger in the park, and that she really likes him. Yay.
At the college professor's house, Joyce decides to stop seeing him. She tells him so, but he continues to grope her. Joyce runs into the kitchen, and the lights throughout the house turn off. as Joyce hears her teacher moving around, she giggles and back up against an outside window, unaware that the killer is outside watching her.
The professor, named Carl, walks into the kitchen. As Joyce playfully drapes the curtains around her body and sits on the windowsill, Carl closes the window down to her knees, effectively pinning her there. He tickles her until she promises to behave, and Ray is right around the corner, getting ready to kill Joyce. Carl lets her back inside at the last second, where she kicks him in the balls, and starts running again.
With Carl limping behind her, Joyce runs upstairs. They get to the bedroom, and Ray breaks in as they begin making out. Joyce hears the killer moving around, but Carl promises her that it's not his wife...she's away for a few days. Still afraid, Joyce insists on having Carl check the fuses, to see if he can get the lights back on.
Carl uses a lighter to walk through the house, and nearly electrocutes himself trying to fix the fuses. He gives up and returns to bed, where Joyce was apparently murdered off screen. As Carl reaches over to get a response, he finds his hand covered in blood, and then Ray stabs him from behind. The kooky expression on Ray's face almost makes up for the lack of a scary kill sequence. Almost.
The following morning, Marvin shows up at Amy's house holding a bag of goldfish. Not the crackers, but actual goldfish. Apparently, he once told Amy that, if she ever visited him, he'd repay her kindness by visiting her, and bringing a goldfish as a gift. In her fish tank, there are about a million miserable-looking goldfish. Weirdo.
Marvin then tries to get Amy to leave her boyfriend for him, and she refuses. In another blatant rip-off of Halloween, Amy gets ready to brew some coffee or tea, and sees a tall figure watching her house. When she asks Marvin to look out the window, he does, but the stranger is gone. Also just like Halloween.
Marvin runs outside to take a look around the property, but doesn't find anything out of place. Amy hugs Marvin, but her friend Nancy interrupts. He tells some of the hung-over guests about dissecting a cat, and they go off and running for the sink.
Len gets to the bridal shop, and the detectives on the scene tell him that they think it was a simple robbery. After they leave Len examines the body closer. He finds a ripped piece of fabric in the dead guy's hand, and matches it to one of the dresses hanging up. Checking the tag on the dress gives him Amy's name and address, so off he goes.
Meanwhile, Amy and Nancy go jogging in the park. We finally get to meet Elliott, played by Tom Hanks. He trips Nancy, and they strike up a conversation. And that's about all that happens. That really wasn't worth the wait, was it?
Amy continues jogging by herself, and starts to think that she's being pursued. She finds a large tree and hides behind it. Sure enough, someone shows up...but it's only another jogger. She follows that person along the path, then runs home.
Len tells Frank that he has a new lead, and balks at the idea of letting the Feds have the case. Then the scene shifts to an amusement park, where Elliott tells them about the psychology of fear. Good work, Tom...now go to that "Bosom Buddies" audition, and become a superstar. While on a spinning ride, Amy thinks that she sees the stalker, but she can't be sure. She and a little girl go off in one direction, while the others stay behind.
The kid convinces Amy to go on a funhouse ride with her, and Amy gives in. As you might expect, Amy freaks out and thinks that she sees the killer during the ride. Then we get a glimpse of the bachelor party, where Phil has locked himself in a bedroom to call Amy. When she doesn't answer, he starts to get concerned. And that's pretty much the only time we see those characters ever again.
Back home, Amy tells Nancy about seeing the stalker at the amusement park. Amy has to bring the young kid to a slumber party, but Nancy promises to be there when she returns. Almost as soon as Amy leaves, Nancy hears someone moving around. Yikes!
She leaves the kitchen to answer the front door, but no one's there. When Nancy returns to the kitchen, you can clearly see that the knife rack behind her is missing a knife. Heck, even AFTER I noticed it, the movie zoomed in, in case we had eyes like Helen Keller. Buh-bye, Nancy. It was nice knowing you!
After dropping the kid off, Amy realizes that a car is tailing hers. It's not the killer, it's Len, but Amy doesn't know that. She loses him after making an illegal turn, and continues to make her way home.
Nancy has suddenly decided to take a shower. She strips down, hops into the shower, and jiggles around as she lathers up. Thank you, movie, for alleviating my boredom. Nancy hears the bathroom door open, but it's shut again by the time she looks.
In her bathrobe, Nancy decides to hang out by the massive fish tank and listen to music. She leans back, and the killer wanders in as she dozes off. His hand hovers near her face, then he yanks her up by the hair, and out comes the knife. And then she dies off screen. If Hollywood ever gets around to remaking this, they better do a better job on the kills.
Amy rushes home, and locks herself in. She sees some wine spilled in the living room, but that's nothing compared to Nancy's severed head in the fish tank! Shocked, Amy backs up, right into the killer. He chases her through the house, and she nearly gets killed unlocking the front door again.
Outside the house, Amy gets to her car, but Ray catches up and tries to get in. She finally gets the car started and goes flying down the street, only to have the killer peer in at her from the roof of the vehicle. Once again, I wish you could see the goofy-ass expressions on this guy's face. If I had to drink a shot every time I laughed during this travesty, I'd be in a coma by now.
He manages to smash the window on her side of the car, so she swerves to the side of the road, gets out, and decides to lead him on a foot chase. Fortunately, she's just down the street from the coroner's office, and Marvin's working the graveyard shift again.
Amy gets to his "office", and tells Marvin everything. He gives her instructions to call the cops, and decides to take down the killer by himself. He goes to the boiler room and arms himself with a 2x4, then starts to look for the killer. For some reason, Amy also decides that it would be more fun to risk her life than it would be to stay in the nice, safe office. Gotta love movie-logic.
Len arrives at her house and finds the killer's latest victim. He calls it in, and the dispatcher tells him that Amy called from the morgue. To the Morgue-Cave!
Amy's stupidity increases, so she starts yelling out Marvin's name. Okay, Ray, look: Clearly, this chick WANTS to die, right? Just follow all of the noise and the bad acting, and kill her. I'm on your side, dude.
Okay, back to the movie. Len arrives at the morgue, Marvin's still looking to get killed, and Amy's still being Amy. Amy somehow found herself in a room filled with dead bodies(In the morgue? You're shitting me, Mark!), and she of course backs away into the arms of the killer. I know I've said it before, but can we PLEASE have horror movies take place in a universe where people don't walk backwards? Is turning that difficult?
Amy gets away, but Ray is pretty close behind her. Len follows a trail of destruction down an endless-looking corridor, and Amy tries to lose Ray in the basement area. The killer finds her cowering on the floor and raises his knife to begin killing her, but Len shows up and shoots him In the back.
Len tries to get Amy to run for the exit, but he freaks her out as much as Ray did. When she finally does leave, Ray is already standing up again, and ready to attack the cop. Len puts up almost no fight at all, so the killer stabs him, then continues to chase Amy.
They go back through all of the same generic, winding corridors that they just ran through, and Ray is lured into an open room. Upon entering, he finds Amy shutting and locking the door behind him. Now I'm almost tempted to give Amy credit for doing something smart, but she cancels it out by leaning against the door, which gives Ray enough time to smash the window next to her, and grab her by the neck and hair.
Marvin hears the commotion and comes running, as Amy grabs a sharp implement off of a nearby surgical tray. She stabs Ray several times in the arm, and Marvin helps her to escape. And of course, they run through many more generic halls.
Outside, the cops have arrived. Marvin and Amy exit past them, then we cut abruptly to a wedding. I'm not sure which girl it is, but she recognizes Phil, who is blocking the exit. The last shot is a closeup of his eyes. THE END.
Ay, caramba! This one was all over the place...one minute it's a slasher film, the next it's a Quinn Martin Production, the next it's a travelogue. Yeesh. And then, they manage to botch most of the kills. And what was up with that ending? This one gets 1-and-a-half killer trees from me, out of 5.
And what did this excruciating waste of time teach me this week?
-Tom Hanks got better as an actor over time. Thank God.
-If you're making a sleazy slasher flick, you need either excessive sex or violence. Preferably both.
-He knows I'm alone. How? I dunno, ask him yourself.
My next slasher is actually a comedy, National Lampoon's Class Reunion. We'll see. Have a good week!