One of Us, Gooble Gobble

I want to get in the rest of these horror movie reviews before Halloween, and I’m busy tomorrow and the next day, so here you go. All four of these contain spoilers; I tried not to give away too much, but I might have anyway, so proceed with caution.

Fear – Reese Witherspoon plays a teenager who starts dating Marky Mark, who later turns out to be really possessive and abusive, and sends out his gang to break into her house and kill her family. And for some reason he suddenly become pretty much unstoppable towards the end, even after being repeatedly injured. Beth said this felt like a higher-budget Lifetime movie, and I can see that.

Freaks – I figured I should see this 1932 film because it’s pretty famous and referenced frequently. When it was first released, audiences hated it, and they ended up cutting out almost half an hour of material. Most of this is considered lost, although the DVD did include a few different endings, and discussed one for which there wasn’t footage. I feel that the movie has kind of a weirdly mixed attitude, veering between presenting the stars as just people and as curiosities. The sideshow performers are presented as largely sympathetic characters who are frequently dehumanized, yet the advertising gave a “Lookit them wacky people!” vibe, and as a group they’re presented as bizarrely cruel in their vengeance. I would imagine the things I found uncomfortable about it were different from what people in the early thirties did. The plot meanders quite a bit, but the main story involves Hans, a man with dwarfism, falling in love with the trapeze artist Cleopatra, and when she learns he’s inherited a lot of money, she schemes with the strong man Hercules to marry and then poison Hans. When the other circus freaks learn of the plot, they chase down Cleopatra and somehow manage to give her a duck’s body. There was originally another part of the scene that indicated they’d castrated Hercules. One thing I found disturbing about the casting is that the story started with Hans engaged to another little person, Freida, who was played by his real-life sister Daisy.

Trilogy of Terror – Made for television in 1975, it’s made up of three different stories (hence the title), all starring Karen Black as different characters. In “Julie,” she plays a professor whose student is obsessed with her, and does gross, perverted things to her without her consent; but then there’s a weird twist. The guy who played the student was her husband at the time, although the marriage didn’t last long after that. “Millicent and Therese” is about two sisters living in the same house, one of whom can’t stand the other and decides to kill her with black magic. The twist here isn’t too difficult to guess. The third, “Amelia,” was probably my favorite. It’s part of the killer doll genre, with Black buying a Zuni doll for her boyfriend that ends up coming to life and chasing her around, making weird noises all the while. Yeah, it was pretty corny, but still rather disturbing. It was one of Black’s first forays into B horror, which later became kind of her main thing. She also became a Scientologist when she married her last husband. I found it interesting that her first husband’s name was Black, and her sister’s was Brown.

Jigsaw – We saw this one at the theater. It’s the eighth Saw film, released seven years after the one billed as The Final Chapter. That kind of thing is never all that binding; the fourth Friday the 13th had the same subtitle, and they made six others after that, and that’s not counting Freddy vs. Jason or the remake. Anyway, the Saw franchise started out as a far-fetched but fairly straightforward account of an old man putting people into death traps as punishment for what he deems immoral or a waste of life, and then grew increasingly more convoluted. John Cramer dies in the third movie, but they still wanted him in the later ones, so they combine flashbacks with the doings of his followers, who become more numerous with each new film. I really couldn’t tell you what happened in most of them. This time, the typical death traps are interspersed with sequences of the police and doctors finding the victims’ bodies, along with evidence suggesting Cramer somehow survived. As absurd as the series is, though, it isn’t supernatural, so there’s a trick to it. Without giving too much away, I’ll say I found the explanation rather cheap, based around tricking the audience without the characters’ motivations making much sense. If you liked the other ones, you’ll probably like this one too. If you didn’t, there’s not a whole lot new.

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