all saw kills ranked

Saw and Halloween – name a more iconic October duo from the last decade (seriously, not just memeing here). Every Fall, for a span of seven films in as many years, John Kramer/Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) – or one of his minions/impersonators – erected a maze of “torture porn” death traps for “chosen” characters to navigate. Carcasses were scorched, heads were pulverized like rotten fruit, and insides were spilled at a frightening turnover rate. Saw 3D was intended to end the franchise, but studio execs eventually realized how much money was left up for grabs.

Zip ahead to 2017 and we have the appropriately titled Jigsaw, Lionsgate’s reboot of James Wan’s infamous slaughterhouse-games franchise. Once again, audiences could rely on Halloween’s October release window for one screamingly macabre “test” designed to maim, massacre and murder with redemptive intent. When I heard the news myself, a flash of Jigsaw’s bodycount projected before my eyes and I knew – as an online film journalist with absolutely zero dignity left – what had to be done. SOMEONE MUST RANK ALL THE SAW DEATH SEQUENCES.

Unfortunately, Jigsaw is not screening for press so this article just focuses on Saw through Saw 3D. In any case, let’s get to the gory details. How does your favorite “trap” or death rank on this punishing playlist of the damned?

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cult of chucky

Let’s save wordcount and cut any intro fluff – I have ranked every single Child’s Play kill. From Charles Lee Ray’s very first “death” transference to the final frame of Don Mancini’s latest installation, Cult Of Chucky. Window drops, airbag nail bombs, heart attacks. The works. Why Because Child’s Play helped invigorate a glorious era of slasher dominance and has been inventively tallying a body count for almost 30 years. Respect your elders. And because it’s Halloween and it’s the perfect season for more insane horror movie rankings.

Wait. You’ve all seen Cult Of Chucky by now, right? What are you waiting for! The “Rated” version appeared on Netflix a few weeks back, but now you can VOD the “Unrated,” more graphic cut. Read on at your own risk, but know that secrets will be addressed in plain font type. I’d suggest breezing through Cult first. It’s worth it.

Major spoilers begin for the entire series right…now.

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Any “horror fan” who isn’t planted A-Clockwork-Orange-theater-style in front of AMC’s shriektastic Shudder streaming service needs to change that malfunction immediately. I say this as an addicted subscriber myself. You’ll finally have the opportunity to watch all those “classic” genre films your pretentious cinephile friends wax so poetically about. But wait! There’s more! Shudder has officially entered the distribution game, offering exclusive premiere content that is alone worth the small monthly payment. Content good enough to spawn this entire feature!

I know you’re here for my ranking of Shudder’s first 20 titles (we’re only ranking the movies, not their TV shows), but hold your undead horses. We’ll get to the clicky-baiting in a second. First, let me start with a preface.

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anna and the apocalypse trailer

Every year, every film festival, some World Premiere comes out of nowhere to reveal itself as “the next big thing.” At this year’s Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas, that title was Anna and The Apocalypse. This film is director John McPhail’s – wait for it – Scottish, Christmas-themed horror musical about coming of age during the zombie apocalypse. High School Musical meets Shaun of the Dead with a dash of Footloose. Sound fun? This is going to be a new winter rewatch tradition for the jolliest of genre fans.

We were able to find a little time amidst the chaos of Fantastic Fest to chat with McPhail about his sing-songy doomsday treat, along with actress Ella Hunt, actor Malcolm Cumming, actress/choreographer Sarah Swire, and actor Christopher Leveaux. Here’s what the whole crew had to say about musical zombie kills, cinematic influences and – as an added bit of fun – what horror movies they’d love to turn into a musicals next.

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lemmy and pinhead

In the necessary world of cinematic promotion, studios will do anything for publicity. Nowadays, it’s all viral internet campaigns and pop-up shops, but times weren’t always so simple. Without the internet, without VR experiences – without today’s “developed” advantages – marketing pros relied on much simpler means to drive their product. Maybe a music video featuring a movie character jamming with rockstars of the era? Maybe some dial-a-character telephone gimmick? An awards show skit? In any case, old-school marketing departments were forced to create imaginative Hollywood tie-ins with only half our society’s current means. That’s obvious to us old folks, but younger generations may forget!

I give you that background to introduce you to my latest quest – to hunt down the horror genre’s most wild, irreplicable videos featuring genre icons forced into promotional crossover buffoonery. But why stop there? As I dragged the internet’s depths, even better content presented itself. Horror’s biggest names shoehorned into commercials and singing on Saturday Night Live. I can’t not share that, right?

So I dug into the “lost but not forgotten” pile of extracurricular B-roll featuring some conceptually insane horror icon appearances. These are the best of the best. You may have found some already yourself – or experienced them live – while others will hopefully raise an eyebrow. In any case, enjoy this obscure collection of horror icons doing the darndest things that don’t involve killing.

Just wait until you hit “Freddy in Japan.” You guys. GUYS.

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Child's Play Series Revisited

(Welcome to Nostalgia Bomb, a series where we take a look back on beloved childhood favorites and discern whether or not they’re actually any good. In this edition: with Cult of Chucky out today, Matt Donato revisits the years when the Child’s Play movie series terrified him.)

I remember the exact moment. Sitting there in my pajamas, October of 1998, watching a recorded copy of the previous night’s WCW Nitro telecast on VHS because my dad was cool like that. Gene Okerlund was conducting an interview in the ring with Rick Steiner when a cackle erupted from the arena’s PA system. I’d never heard this wrestler before. Who was about to present themselves?! My heart began to race. First from excitement…then something else.

On the megatron appeared this mangled children’s toy whose face was stitched together like Frankenstein. Then he started to talk. To me. Like, not actually to the child frozen in front of his television – the doll insulted “Mean Gene” and Rick while defending Scott Steiner – but I felt its voice pierce my soul every time the camera cut away from both confused WCW personalities. At the time, I had no idea who Chucky was or that he terrorized an entire Child’s Play franchise – all I knew is I couldn’t stop the tape quicker.

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is it a horror movie

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about anything and everything. In this edition: It is a horror movie, even if the internet insists otherwise.) 

You’d think that when a horror movie – in this case Andy Muschietti’s It – shatters box office records (to the tune of a $123 million), it’d be a joyous occasion. To be clear, it is. Yet, as horror fans know, this kind of event does not bring praise and congratulations from onlookers, but instead one of cinema’s nastiest trends – the “X isn’t a horror movie” stans who refuse to let horror fans have even the slightest moment in the sun.

Nah, I’m not going to let this slide this time. Let’s have a chat, internet.

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Why the Goon Movies Are Perfect Underdog Stories

When sports and cinema collide, there’s no more exhausted formula than an underdog story. Some no-luck team or player who’s either too green (inexperienced) or too gray (past prime); a journey through workout montages and tremendous sacrifice to become the film’s inevitable MVP. Winners born from humble rearguard and backbreaking work – whatever makes our own proverbial mountains seem more scalable, or ambitions less unreachable. If a poverty-stricken boy from India can become an MLB ace starting pitcher, I, a daytime desk jockey, can surely secure that next promotion! Perspective is everything.

The problem is, most of these films are geared towards children. For every Major League there’s a Bad News Bears and Little Giants not far behind. It makes sense, too. Children need more thematic reinforcement and lesson-teaching as maturation develops. They need to see that anything can be possible, instilling hope for the future. But adults? We define redemption differently than wide-eyed, innocent youngsters who’ve yet to feel life’s brutal, sometimes unforgiving clutches. It’s a different kind of hope we look for – and that’s why Goon and its new sequel, Goon: Last of the Enforcers, are so important.

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dead silence 1

(Welcome to The Unpopular Opinion, a series where a writer goes to the defense of a much-maligned film or TV show, or sets their sights on something seemingly beloved by all. In this edition: Dead Silence is the first true James Wan movie and an unfairly maligned gem.)

It’s impossible to ignore James Wan’s impact on the horror genre over the last decade and change. Saw put both Wan and “torture porn” on the map, Insidious revamped haunted house architectures, The Conjuring scared up record-breaking box office numbers – and that’s to start. Tack on successful sequels (Insidious: Chapter 2 and The Conjuring 2), a respectful entry in the Fast and Furious saga (sending off Paul Walker), and him being handed the reins to a DC property in Aquaman. Wan is, undeniably, a Hollywood juggernaut who went from indie darling to household name by riding a wave of deserved praise for doing the impossible. Igniting franchises. Building cinematic universes. Redefining our nightmares. He is so very…wanderful Pulitzer, please.

Alas, some of his movies have been forgotten along the way. Travel back in time with me, won’t you? Let’s jump back a decade. Back to when James Wan was still trying to emerge from under the shadow of Saw. Back to when he made one of his best movies. Back when no one gave the terrific Dead Silence the time of day.

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guardians of the galaxy vol. 2

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about anything and everything. In this edition: why Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is so great…and how it exposes problems in other superhero movies.)

Here we are, celebrating today’s Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2’s Blu-ray release, and I’m still asking myself the same question. How did James Gunn’s lovable superhero squad go from space-cowboy-nobodies to (some of) the world’s favorite comic movie heroes?

Star-Lord sauntered into the Marvel Cinematic Universe with minimal mainstream presence, flanked by a ragtag posse of oddballs. A gun-nut raccoon who talks? His walking, single catchphrase tree friend? Gunn had to establish singular origins, unite an Avengers-like alliance, and rock a grandiose space opera in Guardians Of The Galaxy. Then Vol. 2 needed to advance team-building, introduce even more characters and calcify the same emotional backbone. Frankly, none of this should have worked. Like how Suicide Squad attempted the same big-team buildup with half/a quarter/none of the same results.

Yet here stands James Gunn, with two of the most famous, successful, recognizable Marvel entries to his name. His success is even more impressive when you compare it directly to one of Marvel Studios’ “bigger” and more central movies: Avengers: Age of Ultron.

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