“Let the game begin.” Jigsaw aka John Kramer (Tobin Bell) is the master of ceremonies of his morality inspired death traps. Given it was the franchise that started the torture porn movement, Saw is often maligned as a lesser example of mainstream horror. The fetishistic emphasis on death and soap opera antics only go so far, especially for a franchise with seven installments. Yet, there’s somehow a new entry coming to theaters. So what better way to celebrate than by looking back at the first seven entries? Listen or not, make your choice. But seriously… please listen.

Decades of Horror 1990s And Beyond
Episode 27 – Saw Retrospective (2004 – 2010)

Saw is an indie marvel. Made for a mere $1 million, the film grossed over 100 times that much. It tapped into an uncertain zeitgeist of troubling times. America was just starting the Iraq War. Torture was a common thread in news. Our world was still in the throes of confusion and distrust from 9/11. A world that sought escape in the form of a madman designing traps to test people’s moral gumption. Saw continued this trend throughout the 2000s, each installment introducing new bits of continuity and trying to top one another with gory traps. The franchise started off the careers of modern horror masters like James Wan, Leigh Whannell, Darren Lynn Bousman and Marcus Dunstan. Saw was really the only mainstream horror franchise in theaters for half a decade… until it wasn’t.

To dissect where everything went wrong, Thomas Mariani brings in a few familiar voices. Adam Thomas, Shakyl Lambert and Ryan Corderman are in for the long haul as all four hosts discuss all seven Saw films in this extended episode. The quartet examines each film in gruesome detail, praising consistent qualities like Tobin Bell while damning the soap opera continuity that gets tedious. There’s praise thrown around for a few of the earlier entries and even a bit of love that trickles down into the latter parts of the series. But there’s plenty of baffling elements of Saw for our heroes to question. How did Jigsaw get more elaborate traps put together? Why did we need to know more through endless flashbacks? Who thought Costas Mandylor was a good idea? All this and more tear the group apart as they try to understand what made people see Saw time and time again.

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The intro and outro is “Suck City” by Black Math. Look for more of their music via Free Music Archive.

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Cabin in the Woods (2012)