Category Archives: Gore



Director James Wan

Starring Cary Elwes, Leigh Whannell

Scott’s Review #1,285

Reviewed August 4, 2022

Grade: A

One of the many reasons that I love the horror genre so much is how it changes and develops over time. Many classic horror films are influential to more modern ones and that’s all well and good.

But then sometimes a new idea or style comes along that throws everything topsy turvy and influences other films for years to come.

Saw (2004) is one of those films. It smacked everyone who thought they knew horror films upside the head with a relentless and pulsating gore-fest.

I was fortunate enough to see the film when it premiered and boy was it the ‘water cooler’ film of its day. The clever writing and intricate plot and set pieces were unheard of in a world of maniac-wielding knife setups and redundant endings.

It invented the grisly ‘torture porn’ moniker that became popular with films like Hostel (2005) and many more that would come after it.

The Saw franchise ultimately produced perhaps one too many sequels that left it feeling stale and exhausted, but what an influence the original Saw had, and continues to have.

I still remember the hold the film had over me and how much it resonated in nastiness, butchery, and enough creative killings to last a lifetime.

Needless to say, it’s not for the squeamish or faint of heart, and watching Saw now knowing the surprise twist doesn’t pack quite the same punch that it did in 2004, but I’ll never forget how I felt when first watching this film.

The twist ending is unforgettable.

Events get off to a kick-ass start when two men awake in peril. Photographer Adam Stanheight (Leigh Whannell) and oncologist Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes) who do not know one another, regain consciousness while chained to pipes at either end of a filthy bathroom.

As the confused men realize they’ve been trapped by a sadistic serial killer nicknamed “Jigsaw” and must complete his perverse puzzle to live, flashbacks unravel the mystery of other character connections.

Meanwhile, Dr. Gordon’s wife (Monica Potter) and young daughter (Makenzie Vega) are forced to watch his torture via closed-circuit video.

A massive clue to the puzzle that Saw presents is lying right there in the bathroom but of course, the unwitting audience knows none of this. The fun of the film is to sit back and let the filmmakers slowly unpeel the onion and reveal the who’s who of the backstory.

And let the blood drip.

Unlike legacy films like Halloween (1978) and Friday the 13th (1980) or even later efforts like Scream (1996) that brought thousands of rabid horror fans back to movie theaters, nobody is being chased with a knife in Saw.

It’s much more cerebral than that.

Who can ever forget the sound of Jigsaw’s grave voice pouring out of a tape recorder stating “I want to play a game” in a robotic tone? It is still as ominous a sound as one could imagine, and the big reveal still comes as a genuine shock.

Most of the characters have secrets to reveal and most of those secrets are dirty.

Director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell who also stars in Saw, brilliantly craft a web of deceit amongst their players. The characters who suffer the most have committed a hateful act of deception or schemed their way to benefit based on someone else’s ruin.

In perfect form, all the victims almost deserve their fates like being caught in a shotgun trap, shot in the chest, or being forced to ‘saw’ off their foot to escape death.

The final reveal is downright freaky and will make the audience quickly rewind the events of the film in their heads. The character thought to be the main killer, and wonderfully played by creepy actor Michael Emerson (star of television’s Lost) is merely a pawn of someone more sinister.

Saw (2004) savagely hacked its way into viewers’ heads with a sophisticated, plot-driven experience with a film style enhanced by an independent look.

It’s had its day but it must never be forgotten for the influence left behind.



Director Eli Roth

Starring Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson

Scott’s Review #951

Reviewed October 24, 2019

Grade: A-

During the early 2000’s the traditional horror genre catapulted into a sub-genre commonly referred to as “torture porn” led by the Saw franchise, debuting in 2004.

Hostel (2006) takes note and creates a terrifying production that holds up arguably the best in the bunch.

With Quentin Tarantino serving as producer and Eli Roth (Cabin Fever-2002) as the writer and director chair, one knows something memorable is in store.

The film is hardly everyone’s cup of tea but a delight for horror fanatics.

American college students Paxton (Jay Hernandez) and Josh (Derek Richardson) travel across Europe seeking adventure and dalliances. They are advised to visit Slovakia, where they are told the women are beautiful, picking up a new Icelandic acquaintance, Oli, along the way.

They encounter a strange Dutch businessman, a pack of rebellious street kids, two Asian girls, and two gorgeous European women, Natalya and Svetlana, as they travel.

When Oli disappears, and Paxton and Josh are drugged by the girls, events turn gruesome as the young men find themselves in a horrific remote dungeon facility where tourists are accosted and sold to willing buyers who brutalize and experiment on the victims.

Paxton must figure out a way to escape his peril and try to save any of the others before it is too late.

Hostel portrays the loneliness and insecurity of traveling abroad successfully as confusion and disorientation are commonalities that anyone who has traveled to a foreign country can relate to. The country of Slovakia (as an aside the film was shot in the Czech Republic) looks eerie and desolate with a quiet and cold tone.

As the group is preyed upon by a mysterious organization that tortures and kills kidnapped tourists, the thought and realism this conjures up adds to the fright.

In a unique measure, Roth turns the traditional gender stereotypes upside down. Based on an unbalanced scale females are killed much more often in horror films than males are. A refreshing point is the three principles are males, not females and we wonder which ones will “get theirs” and how.

Similarities thereby abound with Halloween (1978) when the trio were females and audiences watched their daytime adventures while salivating at the thought of the antics that would transpire when darkness finally falls.

Hostel kicks into high gear during the final thirty minutes once the blood-letting begins to take place. The dark and dingy dungeon is laden with corpses, severed limbs, and blood.

A melancholy scene occurs when one character, alive yet pretending to be dead, is affixed in a position where he must stare into the dead eyes of his friend. In another scene, one character must cut off the dangling eyeball of another so that they can escape the dungeon.

The scenes have equal power in different ways.

A slight irritant to Hostel is the prevalence of homophobia throughout the film. When the guys get into a scuffle with a long-haired bar patron and use a homophobic slur or a scene in which Paxton states “that’s so gay” as a negative seems unnecessary.

Is this to make the main characters less sympathetic or for the viewer to hope that they suffer a horrible fate? Or is Roth just known for homophobia?

In 2006 the LGBT community was becoming prominent in the film, so the inclusion is off-putting and out of line.

Hostel (2006) remains a superlative horror film that is a shock-fest and is still one of the best of its decade. The gruesome scenes still resonate well and watching the film more than a decade later it feels as fresh as when released with only the homophobic slurs needing to be removed.

Influence by Tarantino is always a fine element and his stamp is all over the film.

Followed by two sub-par sequels that tread the same blueprint of European travels gone deadly.

Saw V-2008

Saw V-2008

Director David Hackl

Starring Tobin Bell, Donnie Wahlberg

Scott’s Review #532


Reviewed December 1, 2016

Grade: B

The Saw franchise films are fun, bloody, late-night flicks.

It is quite helpful if you see them close together, and in sequence, as they either continue or backtrack to previous films- past knowledge is very helpful.

Saw V (2008) is no exception, as we learn the hows and the whys of serial killer Jigsaw, an apprentice, and detective Mark Hoffman.

What would possess this man to follow in the footsteps of Jigsaw?

In their heyday, the Saw films were intriguing and more cerebral than the standard slice and dice ’em offerings.

I like these films because there is usually a plot twist or some other surprise connection to an earlier entry to look forward to.

Also, the victims are not merely innocent but are in the wrong place at the wrong time, nor are they killed for the sake of killing.

They typically have embezzled someone, maimed an innocent party, or caused someone pain in some fashion, so the audience does not feel sorry for them, making their various tortures tolerable to watch, if not satisfying.

In Saw V, as far as the kills go, we are treated to somebody being sliced in half, a decapitation, another blown to bits by a detonating bomb, bloodletting, a crushing to death, and various other forms of mutilation.

This is all well and good, but by Part V in a franchise, even the most clever of stories run out of gas, and by this point, the series is feeling a little tired, although still enjoyable for the puzzle of story connections.

Saw V (2008) is a very bloody film, so not intended for the squeamish.

Saw VI-2009

Saw VI-2009

Director Kevin Greutert

Starring Tobin Bell, Shawnee Smith

Scott’s Review #518


Reviewed November 12, 2016

Grade: B

The Saw movies are a fun experience. They are like watching a puzzle form and there is usually some sort of twist or reveal at the end of each film, making them enjoyable.

John Jigsaw’s torture legacy lives on in this film.

This installment picks up where Saw V left off and there are many flashback scenes to earlier installments so things make sense and all come together.

The twist, however, is not as interesting as earlier ones, but the kills are extremely gory and the reasons behind the victims are always interesting.

In typical fashion, the victims deserve, in some way, their punishments, either causing someone else’s death or ripping someone off in their past, so the brutality is not exacted on the innocent.

Deaths and torturous methods such as a severed arm, busting temples, cages, hydrofluoric acid, and needles are all used readily.

For any Scream Queens reality show fans, Taneadra Howard has a role in this one.

Saw VI (2009) is a decent movie, but not as good as other Saws.



Director Gideon Raff

Starring Thora Birch

Scott’s Review #140


Reviewed July 28, 2014

Grade: C-

Train (2008) is a horror, torture film that has very similar elements to Hostel (Americans alone in an eastern country- in this case, northern Russia) and plotted films that were all the rage at this time.

The premise is fairly interesting- the college wrestling team misses a train in northern Russia due to late-night partying and has to take another one where they are systematically accosted, tortured, and dismembered by a strange Russian gang and have their body parts implanted in needy people who are passengers on said train.

However, the film fails on many levels. The bottom line is the film is not very compelling. It is purely plot-centered and has no character development.

Who are the athletes? What do they care about?

In the horror genre, one can make the argument that who cares about the characters, but it would have been nice to have a little background on them.

Also with horror, suspension of disbelief is mandatory, and I can almost buy the villains legitimately doing the surgical transplants for money (one bad guy’s claims that they are torturing the athletes to help save people is silly), but why they rape and torture the athletes before removing their body parts is never explained.

The film has an incredible amount of plot holes- why is the wrestling team male and female? Why do they perform the transplants on a train? How can an eye transplant recipient need no recovery time before he can inexplicably walk around with perfect eyes?

The list goes on and on.

I will give props to the torture scenes, which are cringe-worthy in their gross-out aspect. I didn’t think Thora Birch was successful as the lead actress in the film- a shame since she had so much career promise in American Beauty in 1999.

Train (2008) is a pale retread of the Hostel franchise, but nowhere near as interesting.

Blood Feast-1963

Blood Feast-1963

Director H.G.Lewis

Starring Thomas Wood, Connie Mason

Scott’s Review #100


Reviewed July 10, 2014

Grade: B-

Blood Feast (1963) is the debut film by horror master H.G. Lewis, who invented the gore genre.

The film is simplistic and makes his later films almost seem a big budget.

This film is not meant to be taken seriously and anyone who does is completely missing the point. It is exploitation, but completely over-the-top, with wooden performances for laughs, specifically by Connie Mason, who stinks.

The story involves a demented caterer who is hired by a mother to cater an Egyptian-themed dinner party. He, of course, uses real body parts to complete the meal is obsessed with some silly curse, and owns a female Egyptian statue that talks to him.

The kills are laughing out loud in their basic shock value and all the victims are women.

One victim’s tongue is torn out, as another is whipped to death, which, in a more modern film like Saw would be horrific. But the kills are so comedic, and the gore blood so amateurish, that the audience cannot help but chuckle.

The highlight for me was the intentionally (let’s hope) horrendous acting by all involved.

I much prefer H.G. Lewis’s later films, but this blueprint is a nice introduction.

2000 Maniacs-1964

2000 Maniacs-1964

Director H.G.Lewis

Starring William Kerwin, Connie Mason

Scott’s Review #79


Reviewed June 28, 2014

Grade: B

Two Thousand Maniacs is a 1964 offering by gore director H.G. Lewis set in the South.

The premise of the film surrounds a southern town, ironically named Pleasant Valley, slaughtered and destroyed during the Civil War, and is resurrected every 100 years to enact revenge on northerners who are unlucky enough to stumble upon their town.

Five nice-looking, fashionable tourists, headed to Atlanta, are duped by local townspeople into making a wrong turn and given the hero’s welcome by the town folk for a festive centennial celebration.

The welcome is, of course, a guise for a sinister plot to dismember and barbeque the tourists as part of the feast of the celebration.

The film takes a bit to get going, there is no killing until 30 minutes into it but then kicks into high gear as some of the most graphic, brutal deaths ensue.

A woman is tied to a platform as one townsperson after another attempt to hit a bullseye so that an enormous boulder falls, carnival dunk-tank style, stoning her to death.

Another victim has each limb tied to a horse as they gallop in different directions, thus dismembering him.

Still, another is forced into a barrel laced with nails and sent rolling down a hill.

Another has her thumb and arm chopped off and served for dinner.

These are gruesome deaths.

Certainly, a film like this is done for fun, thus the term horror-comedy, but surely heavily influenced other macabre films that followed- The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) and Deliverance (1972).

The southern rednecks are played to the hilt by mostly real townspeople and the cheerful song “The South will rise again” sticks in the viewer’s mind long after the film ends. The entire tone of the film is bright and cheerful, and the townspeople, on the surface, seem happy-go-lucky and warm. They even kill with charm.

Two Thousand Maniacs (1964) is a fun, splatter film from one of the genre’s most revered filmmakers.

Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat-2002

Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat-2002

Director H.G. Lewis

Starring J.P. Delahoussaye, Christy Brown

Scott’s Review #65


Reviewed June 24, 2014

Grade: B

Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat (2002) is a sequel to the original Blood Feast from over thirty years ago.

It is not necessary to see the original before seeing this film (I hadn’t). The original killer’s grandson is the gruesome caterer/maniac in this installment.

Director H.G. Lewis heavily influenced John Waters, who has a fantastic cameo as a perverted reverend. This movie is so over the top and campy that it is not to be taken at all seriously.

The premise, if one can call it that, involves a lunatic caterer intent on using various female body parts to concoct a scrumptious meal to serve at a wedding.

The film is more of a comedy than a horror film in the traditional sense.

The victims are bubbleheads, mispronouncing words and traipsing around in skimpy outfits (or less) for no reason. The mean-spirited mother of the bride is a delight.

Scenes of taste testing and the presentation of “ladyfingers” are hilariously creative.

Campy in every way and poorly acted, but good late-night fun.

The Gore, Gore Girls-1972

The Gore, Gore Girls-1972

Director H.G. Lewis

Starring Frank Kress, Amy Farrell

Scott’s Review #12


Reviewed May 14, 2014

Grade: B+

The Gore Gore Girls (1972) is a fun, late-night, campy horror film by the “Godfather of Gore”, H.G. Lewis.

An unknown assailant is hacking strippers to bits using very unusual methods. An investigator is hired to find out whodunit.

It’s an entertaining experience and I love the use of the whodunit mixed in with horror. I enjoyed the outcome when the killer was revealed.

Influenced by John Waters (even the music seems identical!) it’s a hearty viewing of wildness, merriment, and debauchery.

Comedian Henny Youngman appears, though he later denied being in the film.

The strippers are over the top and unique and the investigator (sort of a Sherlock Holmes type) is wonderful to watch.

Quite a low budget as the audio is tough to hear at times and the video fuzzy, but this only enhances the fun.

Continuity errors for miles, but it hardly matters.

The Gruesome Twosome-1967

The Gruesome Twosome-1967

Director H.G. Lewis

Starring Elizabeth Davis, Gretchen Wells

Scott’s Review #8


Reviewed June 17, 2014

Grade: B+

This offbeat treat is an incredibly strange, super-low-budget horror film from influential director H.G. Lewis.

This film is an enjoyable, campy, midnight-movie type of experience. The acting is completely over-the-top and played for laughs, purposely.

It felt like watching a horror version of a John Waters film and the atmosphere and acting style surely influenced Waters.

Shots were added to fill the running time to warrant a film release. KFC and Michelob products are placed and one favorite scene is a sorority-type slumber party as the girls danced while eating KFC.

The 7-minute intro of the talking foam heads is wonderfully strange and not to be missed.

While campy, there is one intensely gruesome scene towards the beginning of the film and a must-see for cult horror and/or late-night film fans.