Horror films are tough. You can copy everyone else and make a little money, or you can try something new and make either no money or maybe all the money in the world. With Saw I chose the latter and made all the money in the world. But for every dollar I gained, I lost about twenty Friday the 13th fans.

Thus, this horror story about radical humanitarianism has become something of a generational line in the sand. Your grandpa likes Psycho, your dad likes Freddy, and you like Saw. The good news is: your dad and grandpa can’t work computers, and everyone who doesn’t like Saw doesn’t really want to live that bad anyway.

The premise is pretty simple. An albino wizard gets cancer and suddenly thinks that everyone who doesn’t have cancer is being selfish. He abducts non-cancer people and assesses their life’s true value by forcing them to go very far out of their way to not die. For instance, he puts a vegetarian lady in a vat filled with the blood of her children, her husband, her parents, two random puppies, and Koko the Gorilla. If she doesn’t drink all the blood, she drowns, proving that she doesn’t want to live after all. (It turns out she doesn’t want to live after all.)

Maybe that sounds cruel and unusual to you, but trust me, if you were an albino wizard with cancer you’d feel different.

Saw stars Carrie Elweses, whom you may remember as Wesley from The Princess Bride or as Harry from Harry and the Hendersons. Carrie plays a guy tied to a pipe. Across the European bathroom, there is another guy tied to a pipe. They both have SAWs. Whoever likes their life the most is supposed to cut off their foot and kill the other guy. It’s a life-liking race.

Meanwhile, Danny Glover is a cop obsessed with arresting the albino wizard. To get Danny Glover signed-up, I told him we were making an African American themed sequel to Dances With Wolves. Keeping him around post-lie was difficult, though. We had to pull an “Uwe Boll”: constant roofies. (Ironically, while this method is named after Dr. Boll, he wasn’t actually the first to use it. That would be Sidney J. Furie, the guy who got Gene Hackman to be in Superman IV.) The drugs necessary for this method tend to mar the performance you get; but without it, you’d have no Oscar nominees in your soft-core trash.

Anyway, the brunt of the film asks, can Danny Glover save Wesley Henderson in time? The answer is no. There is nothing anyone can do that hasn’t been thought of by the albino wizard. Everyone dies in the end because none of them want to live bad enough. Wesley Henderson cuts his foot off but lets himself bleed to death. Danny Glover survives a throat cut, but his Lack of Lust for Life distracts him from a booby-trap which blows his head off.

And at the end of the film we find out that the cancer actually prolongs the albino wizard’s life, but only if he kills people. Realizing that the cost of his newfound love for life is taking life from others, the albino wizard opens his own chest and cuts out the cancer once and for all.

Doctors performing his autopsy find a wax-covered videotape in his stomach labeled: “HBO’s Real Sex vol. 2-6, 8, & 11-13.” They watch the tape to confirm the label’s validity. The label is proven valid. His funeral is attended by a heroin addict/wrist-cutter girl, a tricycle riding doll, and a monk with a pig’s head. I don’t understand how anyone could not like this film.

(three stars)

Sam Strange Remembers…has been a CHUD blog since June 2008. Click here to read the archive.