For me, Halloween is sort of a mixed blessing. I love the holiday—the decorations, the costumes, its history and of course the parties—but it falls the day before my birthday and my friends are usually too hung over to party after their All Hallows Eve debauchery. Luckily, I’m not opposed to drinking alone. But the best thing about Halloween is the horror movies. Cable networks go deep into the vault to pull out some old favorites, new classics and all that screams and splatters in between. It’s also a good time to go out and catch a scary movie in the theater. At least, it used to be.
For the past five years, the horror genre has been a totalitarian state. In 2004, Leigh Whannell and James Wan created something of a horror revolution when they released the first Saw movie on Oct. 29 of that year. It had a creepy doll, the dude from The Princess Bride and a mysterious villain who seemed to have every angle covered—no matter how ridiculous. There were enough plot twists to make M. Night Shyamalan envious and enough bizarre gadget-kills to trick audiences into thinking they’d seen something cool or edgy. A Saw movie has been released every year since, with the fifth installment of the series released on Friday, Oct. 24—just in time for another Halloween. But the fact that they’re not very good doesn’t bother me. There are plenty of shitty movies and shitty franchises out there. What pisses me off about Saw is that it’s so fucking popular, so popular that no studio dare release a horror movie on Halloween to challenge it. And for this, I blame all of you.
I hate the Saw series. I’ll admit to seeing the first and the fourth in the theaters, but they won’t get my money again—swear! However, my negative opinion of the torture-porn franchise is certainly in the minority, at least you’d imagine so by the box office numbers this drivel pulls in. According to the New York Times, Saw V pulled in a staggering $30.5 million in its opening weekend. Considering that even oil companies are crying poverty these days, I’d say that’s a pretty impressive figure. How does that stack up to the prized horror series of my youth? Well, according to the article, the Saw franchise has already pulled in more money than all nine Halloween movies combined, and it should surpass the total amassed by all 11 Friday the 13th movies by the time Saw V leaves theaters. The article goes on to say that these numbers do not take inflation into account. I guess that counts for something.
It’s not that Friday the 13th or Halloween were great movies or anything. Both series went downhill after the second sequels, but at least they were fun. The kills were creative, there were plenty of young kids all hopped up on drugs and having pre-marital sex. They were bloody and exploitative, but they had a sense of humor. They were also humane—homicidally of course. Neither Jason Vorhees nor Michael Myers toyed with their kills. They never forced someone to hack off his own arm or chew out her own spleen (or whatever) to save themselves. If they got a hold of you, you were dead—period. Maybe you’d get gutted by a weed machete or chopped up by a band saw, but your demise would be quick—painful as fuck, but quick.
Maybe that was just a kinder gentler time. A time when simply watching people get murdered by unfeeling metaphysical psychopaths were enough. Why isn’t that good enough for you anymore? You’re a bunch of sick puppies. It’s because of people like you that there is waterboarding in the world.