Sequels win and lose at box office

Villanovan Editor

Hello, Villanova…do you want to play a game?

What better time to release the latest horror flicks than on Halloween? Apparently, Hollywood is well aware of America’s yearning to have the crap scared out of them at this time of year, hence the slew of scary movies opening this month. You’ve got “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning,” which pretty much flopped. “Grudge 2,” same deal. Are horror sequels destined to fail? Even on Halloween, when the general public willingly travels to supposedly haunted destinations to scare themselves, why aren’t audiences receiving these films with open arms?

In 2004, America was shocked and appalled by the wildly successful “Saw.” It was such a different, smart and thought provoking idea that the villain, aptly named Jigsaw, created deadly games for those he believed were not appreciating life or who were taking advantage of their gifts. Sure, it was blood and gore, but it was blood and gore for a purpose.

Producers decided to continue the franchise in 2005 with a sequel, “Saw II.” This time, Jigsaw has kidnapped a group of unappreciative individuals and locked them in an abandoned house. They must find a way out before they inhale too much of a lethal gas, but there are other deadly games hidden in the house as well. This sequel was even more successful than the original.

“Saw III” opens everywhere this Friday. Will it be as successful as the first two “Saw” films? What kinds of games will Jigsaw have in store for us this time around? What’s the deal with the creepy painted puppet on the bike? And what’s this I heard about real blood being used in the promotional posters?

To answer all of these questions, I recently caught up with one of the film’s stars, Tobin Bell, otherwise known as Jigsaw. As the film’s villain, Bell plays a dying cancer patient who is determined to make people realize that they do not value life. In the second film, he says, “If you knew the exact moment of your death, how will it change the way you live your life?” So, is Jigsaw really a villain, or is he a social analyst? “Jigsaw thinks of himself as a scientist,” Bell says. “He’s a mechanical engineer … he’s a man who has gripes about the world. Survival of the fittest has always been an important concept, and he believes that people do not appreciate their blessings.”Surprisingly, Bell and Jigsaw have a lot in common, besides the fact that Jigsaw plays lethal games with his victims and Bell does nothing of the sort (nor has victims for that matter).

“I’m analytical and fascinated with human nature just like [Jigsaw],” he claims in the same low, raspy voice that is distinctive of his character. “I observe a lot, I get reads on people and situations and I believe I am a very good character. Jigsaw has all of these traits.”

Now the two million-dollar questions that every movie-goer will be wondering: what makes “Saw III” any different from the first two? Should I really go see this, or is it just going to be a shoddier version of the successful originals?

At this, Bell snickered to himself. “Jigsaw has saved some of his most shocking games for ‘Saw III,'” he says. “The size and scope of the games will surprise you.” How so, you may ask?”There are lots of surprise traps and plenty of clues to figure out … It’s a very fast-paced and frightening film. [Director] Darren Lynn Bousman will blow the enthusiastic fans out of the water.”These are heightened aspects of the original “Saw” movies, so what is so new and spectacular about the third installment?

“The audience will learn more about Jigsaw’s relationship with Amanda, who was in the first two movies, which is very rich and dramatic,” Bell says. “Billy, the puppet on the bicycle, is a big part of ‘Saw III.’ Jigsaw has had him for a long time.”

Here’s another trivia tidbit exclusively for you, Villanova. Lionsgate Films organized extremely successful blood drives in honor of each “Saw” film release. In fact, the “Saw II” blood drive alone brought in 4,000 pints of blood to the American Red Cross. “Saw III” hopes to surpass those numbers, and, in addition, raise more money for the Red Cross by selling promotional posters for the film. These posters aren’t your ordinary posters, however. Keeping with the theme of horror and bloodshed, these promotional posters contain real blood. Not just anyone’s blood either: Jigsaw’s own.

“Yes, I donated two vials of my blood,” Tobin says. “We really want to raise that money.”On these promotional posters, anytime you see red coloring, it is not just paint. Instead, it is a mixture of Bell’s blood and red paint to create a truly horrific (but praiseworthy in its intentions) movie poster. For $20 you can have one of your own! The predictions look promising for “Saw III,” and the film may become the big horror flick of the haunting season. With more gore, more twists and more explanations, it could even prove to break the curse of the sequels. So if you’re bored with your typical Villanova Halloween party, head out to the theater … if you can handle it. And, oh yes, there will be blood.