Movie Mixtape: 6 Movies to Watch With ‘Jigsaw’

Jigsaw clip

(Welcome to Movie Mixtape, where we find cinematic relatives and seek out interesting connections between new releases and older movies that allow us to rethink and enjoy what’s in our theaters as well as the favorites on our shelf. In this edition: Jigsaw.)

There’s almost nothing like the Saw movies in cinema. Launching 7 movies in 7 years without going the direct-to-video route was an amazing achievement launched by an innovative, thrilling piece of indie horror. It’s easy to forget that, considering how silly and cartoonish and convoluted the films have gotten. Peel away all those messy, pus-covered layers, and there’s something bone-sharp and angry beneath.

The franchise is an astonishing sprint, but squeezing blood from a stone gets tricky when you kill your killer off and then make a lot more movies.

Which brings us to Jigsaw. After a 7-year hiatus and the last film literally being called The Final Chapter, the Rube Goldberg of slashers returns to try to get a few more drops of O-positive out of the screen.

A list of movies to watch with it should just be the first 6 Saw movies and a Wikipedia recap of Saw: The Final Chapter, right? Let’s try to delve a little deeper.

Undead (2003)

A year before Saw proved that low budget indie horror was alive and thriving, Undead proved that low budget indie horror was alive and thriving with a four-barreled shotgun. Schlockier and a lot more gonzo than the game-playing companion that launched a billion-dollar franchise, this Australian gem focuses on a group of survivors navigating zombie hordes and, you guessed it, aliens.

The most impressive thing about it is the CGI, crafted by the editor/writer/producer/directors The Spierig Brothers, who have made a career out of doing VFX on their MacBooks, exploiting their own time and talent without big budgets to throw at their ambitions. They also made the vampire drama Daybreakers and the time travel brain-sizzler Predestination. Their latest project? Jigsaw, of course.

Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

This is…not a great movie. But Halloween: Resurrection is a fascinating companion to Jigsaw for a couple of reasons. First, it’s also the eighth installment in an iconic horror franchise featuring a baddie that refuses to stay dead. Second, while it wasn’t exactly a years-later shot at re-animating a once profitable franchise because Halloween had limped along steadily throughout the ’90s, the logic-defying sentiment of “resurrection” is definitely alive and kicking here (as is the live-streaming internet horror-tainment concept of people trapped in a house that Saw also eventually mined for plots).

It’s also the last installment (before the Rob Zombie reboot timeline), so its emergence shortly before Saw came on the scene is fitting. As if one horror titan passed the sequel crown off to another. Saw is closer to the original Halloween for its budget and inventiveness than the clown show of cheap deaths in Resurrection, but the seventh Saw movie is closer to the latter than the former. It’s Carpenter’s Third Law of Horror Thermodynamics. Sleek and clever eventually becomes bloated and convoluted.

Jackass: The Movie (2002)

Let’s be honest: the paper cut scene from the first Jackass movie is harder to watch than anything Saw has to offer. The feature version of the super dumb, super wonderful TV show had the crew shock each other with a muscle stimulator, walk across a tightrope over a bunch of alligators, navigate through a minefield of mouse traps, snort wasabi, get a tattoo while off-roading, and more torturous daredevil nonsense. Including the paper cuts.

Jigsaw loves to put keys into people, but Ryan Dunn put a toy car into his anus and went for an x-ray, so who’s more daring?

The point here is that the Jackass gang would absolutely survive Jigsaw’s traps. The second point is that, well before Saw 3D, the franchise had morphed into a pastiche of Jackass-style horror setups. More laughable than squirmy.

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