Jigsaw Needs to Study Up on Vincent Price

October 29, 2007 at 1:57 pm Leave a comment

JigsawThe 2000s have seen plenty of horror movies, remakes, sequels, remake prequels, etc. But no 21st century horror series has set up shop like Saw, out of which part IV opens this weekend. Few series gets past part II these days, so having a part IV makes Saw‘s antagonist Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) the closest thing today’s little horror fans have to a Freddy or a Jason.But in truth Jigsaw’s shtick is not like any of the ’80s slashers. He’s more reminiscent of two characters played by Vincent Price: Dr. Anton Phibes (The Abominable Dr. Phibes and Dr. Phibes Rises Again) and Edward Lionheart (Theater of Blood). These guys are all bitter, arrogant old men who believe they have been wronged. They have a knack for setting up elaborate, sadistic traps, for eluding the authorities, for giving away clues without being caught.

Jigsaw traps people in dirty rooms, he forces them to consider horrible things like cutting off their own legs or cutting open a guy’s stomach to escape. He builds devices that split people open; he nearly drowns a guy in pig guts; he puts a junkie in a situation where she has to dig through a pile of dirty needles. In short he is a mean dude. Dr. Phibes is similar: he builds a mask that crushes a man’s throat, a unicorn head that impales a guy, a deadly ice machine, and inundates people with bees, bats, rats and locusts. Lionheart cuts out a man’s heart, electrocutes a woman with hair curlers, even force-feeds a guy his own dogs until his stomach explodes.

But the Price characters have a deliberate pattern or theme to their killings, something that seems to make their game with the police a little fairer. Phibes bases his crimes on the Biblical plagues, and Lionheart on the plays of William Shakespeare. Jigsaw’s are free-form, based on his corny moral lessons so that the police aren’t given the same opportunity to predict the next crime before it happens.

Of the three, Lionheart gives the most bang for your buck. With Phibes, or especially with Jigsaw, you get a series of increasingly horrible deaths. With Lionheart you get that too, but also you get to see Vincent Price performing a Shakespearian monologue with each one. Price always said his role in Laura was the one he was most proud of, but I bet he had the best time doing Phibes, dressing up in all kinds of costumes and playing so many great parts all in one movie.

Another move Jigsaw took from Price was the female sidekick. Phibes has Vulnavia (Virginia North, Valli Kemp in the sequel), as a silent assistant. Lionheart has his daughter (Diana Rigg), who spends half the movie in an unconvincing mustache and Afro wig, and the movie acts like it thinks we’re gonna fall for it. Jigsaw’s sidekick Amanda Young (Shawnee Smith) is pretty cool because she has a pig mask and she started out as a victim in part I before she switched teams. She’s no Diana Rigg in drag, but she should serve Jigsaw well in parts IV through VII, even if he runs out of traps and videos he already made before dying, and if he doesn’t come back as a zombie, cyborg or ghost.

Source: www.cinema-pedia.com


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