Tag Archives: Cary Elwes

Saw #30DaysOfFright

saw5The Usual Suspects meets Se7en, Saw may be known more for its torture porn tendencies – popped into the same category as the likes of Hostel – but the first is more of a taut serial killer thriller. 

There are of course horrible deaths but most of what happens is in your mind, it’s the suggestion of it that makes you balk. The sequels certainly up the blood and gore quota.

 It’s the story that drives the horror in this and the suggestion, something that has become a staple in James Wan and Leigh Whannell directed and written horror films, from Insidious to The Conjuring. The horror comes from the situation and story.

 sawTwo men who don’t know one another awake in a dark empty room shackled to the wall. In the centre of the room a dead body and a tape recorder. A mysterious voice pits them against one another, will they live or will they die? To survive they are going to have to go out on a limb. If they die they’ll simply become another victim of the twisted Jigsaw killer

 Will they work together or against one another? They are Dr. Lawrence Gordon, who has to kill Adam, or his wife and daughter will die.

 Like all good horror it drags us in and puts us in their shoes, what would we do to escape and save our family? It’s kill or be killed.

 I want to play a game is what the Jigsaw killer tells his victims through the means of his creepy puppet, and that is exactly what this film is a game, a game of wits.

For all its horror tendencies This is a cleverly crafted whodunnit.

saw2What is really interesting about Saw is that the victims aren’t exactly innocent, they may not deserve to die but they aren’t exactly nice people or innocent victims per se. 

And what is clever is that Jigsaw finds ways for victims to essentially kill themselves. Again, it’s about the clever deaths and scenarios.

Perhaps the most memorable is that of the converted bear trap on a woman’s face, obviously there is the fact that if she can’t open the device it goes off ripping her jaw apart.

Added to this the key is hidden inside the body of a man, she must dig it out within 60 seconds. Oh, and the man, whilst inanimate is still very much alive.

This trap is also notable as it was filmed as a short to help get finance for the film by Wan and Whannell. Whannell also playing Adam trapped with the good Doctor.

The only innocent people in the film are the mother and daughter who are kidnapped, for me this whole section is outstanding and where the real mounting tension lies.

Whether it is the girl telling her mummy that there is a monster in her room, which of course there is in the shape of their kidnapper. When we see that figure it is chilling.

And the tension is ramped up again when time has run out for the Doctor to save his family 

saw6They are tied up, the kidnapper takes the daughter’s heartbeat and then again when he points the gun at her mother’s head, this time it beats much faster, just like that of the audience’s.

Style wise, the dizzying edit and speeding up film I’m less of a fan of, even if it is highlighted their confusion, desperation and panic.

What does suit the film, and cunningly the series as a whole, is the non-linear timeline of the film zips about but it works in its favour and keeps us hanging on tenterhooks throughout.

saw4The ramshackle Jigsaw puppet on his bike could have so easily been laughed off the screen, but it’s creepy as hell. And is my Halloween costume of choice, complete with dictaphone as well.

He’s used sparingly in this first outing but has quickly become a horror icon alongside Freddy, Jason, Michael, Pinhead and Ghostface.

For a film set so much in the shadows it’s quite fitting most of the characters have grey areas 

saw8What elevates this from the usual low budget fair is its casting of familiar faces in key roles, such as Cary Elwes as the shackled surgeon, Danny Glover as a detective investigating the murders and Monica Potter as Elwes’s wife.

With Saw being the title the race to the climax is heavily posted, Jigsaw has hidden hacksaw blades not sharp enough to cut through chains but through flesh. What would push you to the limit to lop your own foot off? 

Nothing and no one is as they seem, this is a jigsaw of many pieces and only when the puzzle is complete is the whole picture revealed.

The end? I won’t give it away but It’s less survival of the fittest and more Saw-vival of the cleverest.

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Hood do you think you are?

It’s been 25 years since Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves crashed onto UK cinema screens, and we all know that Kevin Costner and Errol Flynn donned tights and confounding archery trickery in the forests of Sherwood.

Dean Newman picks a quiver full of people who have also brought the world’s most famous outlaw to life, including a duck and Cheggers!

Daffy Duck

As featured in Robin Hood Daffy… (1958)

robinhooddaffyFollowing the same well drawn lines as his other alter ego Duck Dodgers, Daffy Duck, heads to Sherwood with fine support from Porky Pig as Friar Tuck. Directed by animation legend, Chuck Jones.

 Rocket Robin Hood

As featured in Rocket Robin Hood… (1968)

roket robin hood titlesThe series was high concept to say the least: in the year 3000, a descendant of the original Robin Hood reforms the Merry Men, complete with namesakes of the originals, to combat a new Prince John, despotic ruler of the National Outer space Terrestrial Territories, and the Sheriff of N.O.T.T.(National Outer-Space Terrestrial Territories).

While the bow and arrow was still Robin’s weapon of choice, almost everything else was updated. He now had rayguns, electro-quarter staves and rocket ships at his disposal…and jet-packs! Think Space Ghost style animation meets the original animated Spiderman.

Keith Chegwin

As featured in Robin Hood Junior… (1975)

RHjrCheggers plays pop-ular action folk hero in his Children’s Film Foundation classic (think the Robin Hood version of Bugsy Malone minus those custard pie guns and all that singing). A fantastically fun romp that deserves to be released on DVD with Keith Chegwin commentary!

Sean Connery

As featured in Robin and Marian… (1976)

Talking of Bond…one of the few Robin Hood’s to die on screen and indeed to show him in his twilight years. Slower paced and had a fantastic Guy of Gisbourne in the shape of Robert Shaw. Acting, of course, runs in the family and Jason got to step up to the plate in the third series of Robin of Sherwood as Robert of Huntingdon.

 John Cleese

As featured in Time Bandits… (1981)

There’s more than a bonkers feel to this Terry Gilliam film fest with Python face as perhaps the oddest choice big screen aloof Hood ever, in charge of some perhaps too Merry Men.

Michael Praed

As featured in Robin of Sherwood… (1984 – 1986)

robin of sherwoodFor me this was as much a part of early 80s Saturday teatime as Doctor Who. Still looks great nearly 30 years later and features a fantastic turn from Ray Winstone as the screens greatest ever Will Scarlet. Had a brilliant two-part opener that fused together would have made one of the best Robin Hood films ever! Famously full of mysticism, it was the first Robin Hood to take in the notion of the green man and introduce us to Herne the Hunter. It was also the first to introduce a Saracen character from the Crusades that has now – with Prince of Thieves and the recent BBC TV series – become the norm.

Praed bowed out after series two, succumbing to the Sheriff and his men, or in TV terms, moved to America to only be shot at his own wedding in Dynasty, surely the Hood equivalent of George Lazenby jacking in Bond after one film. Interesting fact: Neil Morrissey, from Men Behaving Badly and Boon, almost got to play the Hooded Man.

Patrick Stewart

As featured in Star Trek: The Next Generation… (1987 – 1994)

It’s in one of those dastardly Q moments that expertly lampoons the look and feel of Flynn’s Adventures of Robin Hood, albeit with a Klingon and an android, it also some brilliant knowing dialogue. Stewart also parodied the Sean Connery role in Prince of Thieves, complete with strong Scottish accent, at the close of Men in Tights.

Patrick Bergin

As featured in Robin Hood… (1991)

The ‘other’ Robin Hood of 1991, this Irishman played Robin Hood with a tache in what was released as a TV movie in America but theatrically over here in Blightly. Billed as gritty, it certainly rhymed with that, as it added elements into the mix that were just downright odd/dull. Uma Thurman made an interesting Maid Marian however. Not a lot really happens.

Cary Elwes

As featured in Robin Hood: Men in Tights… (1993)

“Unlike other Robin Hoods I speak with an English accent.” Cary Elwes showed he was good with a blade in The Princess Bride and actually would have made an impressive bonafide Hooded Man. Was actually born in England, which is something of a rarity for big screen Robin Hoods in Hollywood. Certainly not Mel Brook’s greatest film ever but has aged well and still manages to raise more than a titter.

Rik Mayall

As featured in Blackadder: Back and Forth… (1999)

One of those oh so special programmes produced for the millennium, indeed it was produced to be shown at The Dome, which generally means they miss the mark more than they hit with a parade of famous people trying to be oh so funny, also see Comic Relief specials etc, in the days before Extras. Blackadder’s very own Lord Flash heart managed to stuff himself in his tights and brought along Kate Moss as Maid Marian. Beware, not as good as the original series. Close, but no cigar, Darling.

Keira Knightley

As featured in Princess of Thieves (did you see what they did there)… (2001)

Before playing with Pirates this young moppet played Robin Hood’s daughter in this little seen Disney TV movie which also saw Malcolm McDowell as the scowling Sheriff. Directed by Peter Hewitt, who helmed both Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey and The Borrowers.