Jigsaw, Freddy, Leatherface: It’s Tradition


Movie Musings - Amber Olson3Blood, guts and glory, right?

That’s exactly what Jigsaw, the main character from the Saw movie series, thinks. He’s a cold-blooded serial killer who conjures up more puke-worthy torture devices and procedures for each new movie and everyone I know loves the film franchise. I mean, come on. Who doesn’t love Jigsaw?

But the real question is why? Now that the original Saw has turned 10 years old—and has returned to area theaters this weekend to celebrate the anniversary—perhaps it’s time to ask why people like to see actors portraying all of those gory and sinister “games.” I scare myself sometimes when I watch the movies and find myself saying, “Oh, that was so cool!” in response to the lethal entrapment the victim is in. (I won’t become a justice-seeking murderer, I swear.)

Typically, horror movies are the same. This insane cannibal kills this person there, the murderer vanishes out of thin air, and the girl ALWAYS trips and falls.

That’s when I laugh the most during horror movies.

But really, why do people like seeing horror movies that disgust them? Being a horror-lover myself, I honestly have no logical answer other than how interesting they are. How can a person become that deranged and crazy that they kill that many people, or come up with that many ways to produce pain? It’s surreal to me.

Either way, all horror movies, being gross and scary, get stuck in your head, right? Unless the movie is bad to the point where you’re laughing, there is usually a scene in which you jump or scream.  Or is that just my mom?

No matter the year it was made, all scary movies, definitely including Saw, seem to have one goal: make the audience scared and disgusted. Here are three movies made 10+ years apart that have different storylines but also some similarities that show how the genre has consistent conventions: Wrong Turn; A Nightmare on Elm Street; and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Wrong_TurnMade in 2003, Wrong Turn is about a group of hillbilly cannibals who are mentally deranged and psychically disfigured due to generations of incest. In this blood-pumping movie, they chase and try to kill six people (go figure).  This movie takes place in West Virginia where the people are trapped in strange woods (I don’t think this is the only movie where the victims can’t find their way out of woods…) and try to get away from the human-eating murderers. As you can guess, there are disgusting deaths, a plethora of blood and screaming, and some devouring of human flesh.


Nightmare on Elm StreetNext is the original A Nightmare on Elm Street, made in 1984. The main character of all these movies is Freddy Krueger, a dead-looking serial killer who stalks and kills his victims in their dreams. But this time, instead of woods, the victims are trapped inside their own mind while Freddy goes in there and messes around, making them think they’re going crazy.  Also, in place of all the extra blood and gore, Freddy Krueger’s creators pin him as more of a psychologically terrifying individual who gets his victims to do his dirty work for him.  It’s not as gory as Wrong Turn, but it’s unnerving all the same, and for similar reasons.

TexasChainsawThe last movie is the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. This fear-of-chainsaws-and-meat-hooks story was made in 1974, and is a combination of both bloody grossness and, like Nightmare on Elm Street, psychological scariness.  As the first of many movies to be made about Leatherface, the real-life inspiration for the series, the director, Tobe Hooper, sure did not disappoint. Hooper, in my eyes, was spot-on for the creepy and right-at-home feel during the entire movie; he made it look like the events that happened in the movie could occur in your neighbor’s basement.  Scary, right?

All of these movies are different in their own individual ways, but the events that happen are somewhat similar.  And all three feature bad guys with faces in serious need of a dermatologist.

Just because horror movies are made in different eras, that certainly does not mean that the content of the movies themselves vary much. Bloody deaths and scary men rocking human skin masks tend to be what the audience wants, and the directors never shy from delivering that basic appeal.

So. With all this said, I’ll see you waiting in line to see Saw in theaters this weekend.

Movie Musings is a regular movie column written by Amber Olson, Current Staff.

(All images are official publicity material.)

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