Saturday, September 27, 2008

PAUL NEWMAN (1925-2008)

Forget the comparisons to Marlon Brando or James Dean. Paul Newman, you were a class act. In your roles as Henry Gondorff, or Luke Jackson, or Eddie Felson, you always inspired me to know that sometimes, when you're ensnared in a broken system, it's okay to do what you do, outcomes be damned.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

An Homage to the Master

I love Tina Fey. I love Amy Poehler. I loved BABY MAMA. It was irreverent. It was fresh. It was funny.

But I come not only to praise BABY MAMA. I come also to praise the scene-stealer. I come to praise the ridiculous one. I come to praise the master. I come to praise the funniest man ever. Today, I'm here to praise Steve Martin.

Steve has a somewhat small part in BABY MAMA. He plays Barry, the Zen-Master President of a Fresh Market-ish grocery chain. He's Tina Fey's boss. And he's freaking awesome.

Steve Martin is classically zany and he's always been at his best when he's at his zaniest. I was on a big kick a few months ago where I listened to his comedy albums from the late '70s and they are genius. This was when I was doing landscaping. I would be walking around a yard spraying some dangerous chemical, listening to Steve and if anyone was watching, they would have seen me giggling uncontrollably (and probably spraying Round-Up all over somebody's yard). This stuff is ridiculous and silly and goofy and hilarious. An example:
I am so mad at my mother! She's 102 years old and she called me last week because she wanted to borrow 10 dollars for some food! I said, "Hey, I work for a living!" So I loan her the money, I have one of my secretaries take it down and yesterday she calls me and says she can't pay me back for awhile. I said "What is this bullspit?" So I worked it out with her - I'm having her work on my transmission. And if she can't fix that I'm having her move my barbells up to the attic.

"I love money. I love everything about it. I bought some pretty good stuff. Got me a $300 pair of socks. Got a fur sink. An electric dog polisher. A gasoline powered turtleneck sweater. And, of course, I bought some dumb stuff, too."

Back to BABY MAMA for a minute. My favorite Steve Martin part comes when Tina Fey's character does something good for the company and Steve says "Congratulations, Kate. I want to reward you with five minutes of uninterrupted eye contact." It would be so stupid if anyone else did it, but Steve had me giggling like a schoolgirl.

Maybe that's what so great about BABY MAMA. Yes, Tina and Amy carry the movie and both are hilarious. But they also fill in the gaps that other comedies leave empty. Those small moments that could have been just plot devices, BABY MAMA cracks you up with. Watch it just for Steve Martin (Barry) telling Amy Poehler's character the secret to success. Watch it for the chocolate poop. Watch it for the best joke about PAM of all time. Watch it because it's funny.

BABY MAMA gets 4 farts in a purse out of 5.


pepe guzman says: "I could have done without all the singing."

the hamster says: "I could have used a bit more racial humor. And swearing."

neither of us apologized for enjoying this.

3 cranial V-chips out of 5.

it's just f#&$*ng funny.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

WHICH ONE IS THAT? I GET THEM ALL CONFUSED.... - john barber's wife's husband

dear john,

i received your text message this morning concerning my text message this morning. because we designed this here website as a way to give back to the community, to restore hope to a consumeristic america hopelessly trapped in a filmatic foxhole of explosive blockbusters and romantic comedies and sundancely festive independent mumbo-jumbo jobs - because we have accepted the responsibility to reintroduce the goodness of bad movies - i decided to reply to your text message publicly on hockey mask inc.

to answer your question, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD ...

- is the one where the punk kid (thom mathews from FRIDAY THE 13TH VI) gets the job at the medical supply company that ships skeletons and half-dog carcasses to would-be doctors. oh, and they also have tanks full of zombies in the basement. seems that the government found a way to reanimate life back in the day, only it didn't work as the government planned. so instead of storing the tanks of preserved zombies in some arizona hangar 18 style secret compound, they just put then in the basement of this warehouse in louisville, kentucky, where, surely, they'll remain safe cause, face it, it's louisville.

- is the one that makes tons of references to george romero's films. these references are half complimentary and half "yeah-we-can-do-that-better." unlike romero's undeadlies, RETURN features zombies that run wicked fast, talk intelligently when strapped to tables, and represent zero social commentary. in fact, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD plays much more like a wicked step-brother of michael jackson's THRILLER video than anything closely related to romero. making deep connections between RETURN and romero would be like comparing TEEN WOLF and DANCES WITH WOLVES because they're both about dudes finding their mojo through canine like behaviors.

- is the one where the zombies come to life because of an acid rain created by dudes cremating reanimated dog parts and cadavers at the medical supply place. and those bits came back to life because one of the bozo employees leaked the zombie preservation gas out of the government holding tanks in the basement. of all the zombie films i've seen, this is the most likely story of reanimation yet. in fact, i thought i was watching C-SPAN for a minute there.

- is the one with the punk kids who party in the cemetery. i freaking love the punk kids. you've got everyone in this clique from the hardcore british punk rocker to the flock of seagulls new waver. you've got an annie lennox wannabe and a bangles reject. and, of course, you've got the token black punkster with long jerry curl locks. but the one thing all these kids have in common is that they want to party.... even if it kills them. (that's a good tag line!)

- is the one with the legendary tar man - who might be the coolest monster creation in all of film history. for the life of me, i can't imagine how they pulled this dude off so well in 1985 on a small budget. they'll never make another tar man this good.

- is the one i watched with my dad when i was, like, eight years old, and it gave me nightmares for nearly two years. i think i finally stopped sleeping with my lamp on at the age of 14.

- is the one where the annie lennox wannabe with the bright orange hair says - right before she vegas showgirl dances on a gravestone - that being surrounded by a group of ugly old men who eat her alive would be the most horrible way to die. and then it happens! this is the power of positive self-talk.

- is one i would buy on the clearance rack at half priced books in a heart beat. RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD is the most fun zombie film i've ever seen, probably because it makes zero effort to work as a horror or suspense film - it's just pure punk rock and ridiculous special effects.

- is definitely a 5 brain buffets out of 5 kinda film. forget ever making a remake of ROTLD - this is classic monster cinema at its finest. 

let me know what you think. i'm chomping at the skully bits for your thoughts.

- hamster

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


With all due apologies to my popcorn bag brethren....

In watching Part 2, I felt like in some ways I was watching the student film version of Part 1. The shots were choppier; the build-up was far less terrifying; the entrapment of the various counselors was way more predictible. Case in point: I never saw Kevin Bacon's demise coming, but when Ralph leaned up against the tree, it was just a waiting game. The fact that Jason is running around with a bag over his head didn't help matters--there's an interesting analysis to be done about why Jason feels compelled to cover his head at all times...but another time perhaps.

In the last set of explorations of FTT, the point was made about the first-person POV of the killer, that it produced the effect of having the audience view the world through the killer's eyes. In this way, the audience was unable to maintain a truly critical distance from the movie; I could never fully pull away from the movie and remind myself, "Yep, there's a camera operater back there, and Jed's probably drinking a beer while holding the boom mike." By giving us the killer's eyes to look through in Part 1, the audience becomes a complicit party to the violence that ensues.

At first glance, I thought the filming was just sloppy with regards to this technique's use in Pt. 2: there are times when it's unmistakably Jason, but there are times when the audience winds up looking through the eyes of Ralph. But then I realized there may be something more going on: the first-person POV is preserved on occasion for Jason, but in truth, other people's gazes become in this film the first-person POV. For example, instead of only entering the picture through our vision, Jason enters the picture and becomes visible to the viewer through reflections on the side of the screen, through the gasps in his victims' recognitions, through glimpses in panes of glass. In other words, the first-person POV becomes everywhere: instead of simply the audience's direction vision being Jason's POV, all directions become Jason's POV. Multiple points of vision in the movie becomes co-opted by Jason, and reveals Jason's power and terror.

I have to confess that this one wasn't nearly as scary for me. I kept thinking of The Elephant Man while watching this, or waiting for Cher to come in and put her arms around Jason and tell him that it really was going to be okay. I'll be eternally grateful to get this hour and half of my life back at some point.

One and a half Oedipal transferrences out of 5.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Top Ten Things About Friday the 13th 2

10. The Gross – Made for only a million or so bucks, Part Deux earned well over 21 million. Not a bad margin, eh? This paved the way for all of the crappy slasher wanna-bes from the last twenty years. Yay for ‘Gross’ puns!

9. The Severed Head – There are lots of them here, but the one we see most often is Mama Voorhees, first in a refrigerator in suburbia, then as the centerpiece to a shrine in the woods. That Pamela really gets around.

8. The Mask – Again, as with Part 1, we’ve got no hockey mask yet. No, young Jason has chosen a burlap sack for a mask this time. How do you get the eye holes to stay lined up all the time? Seems like it would slip too much. Should have gone with a slice of bologna with eye holes cut out.

7. The Skinny Carrot Top – The comic relief is usually the first to go. This loser gets off easy. He gets to spend the night pounding brewskies in a local dive getting rejected by 40-year old drunk chicks. There are worse ways to pass the time, I guess.

6. Crazy Ralph (again) – Nobody deserves a garroting. Especially not Crazy Ralph – all the guy did was warn folks that they were gonna get butchered. Who’s Crazy now, huh?

5. The Nonsense – So let me get this straight. Jason, who’s never left the woods in his entire life, somehow finds out where Alice lives, breaks into her house without her noticing, stows his mom’s noggin in her fridge, and jabs an ice pick into her temple. All while he’s, what, 12? No car, no clothes, no command of the English language – how did he find her house? Did he look her up in the White Pages – he can’t read! Did he follow her car from the hospital? On foot? Then he found his way back to Camp Crystal Lake to erect his little mommy-shrine? Come on.

4. The Final Girl – Ginny is far superior to Alice (from Part 1) for many reasons. She’s resourceful, she’s intelligent, she’s blond, and she’s not afraid of sharp objects. Poor Alice was forever trying to whack Pamela Voorhees with sticks and poles and whatnot, whereas Ginny goes for the machetes and pitchforks pretty quickly. She ends the film pretty much the same way as Alice, but I’m way more confident that Ginny will thrive in the outside world.

3. The Disguise – Ginny is feeling from Jason, and (miracle of miracles) just happens to run right into Jason’s Ziggurat to Mama. She stumbles in and processes what’s happening pretty darn fast. Then, donning Pam’s sweater (that thing HAS to be crawling with nastiness) and assuming Mom’s identity, she begins to bark at Jason “Jason, mama is talking to you!” It works. For a minute. I bet that sweater would sell for a small fortune on ebay…

2. The Face – We get a good look at Jason’s mug as he jumps though a window at Ginny. He’s deformed, demented, and just plain ugly. Now, let’s review what we know about Jason. He was a camper at Camp Crystal Lake and, while his counselors were breaking a couple of the commandments, he drowned in the lake. So how did his face get deformed anyway? Did he have an encounter in the forest with a surly bear? Maybe he was born that way and the counselors wanted him to croak…

1. The Ending – The mysterious, mysterious ending. “WHERE IS PAUL?” I don’t know Ginny, I don’t know where Paul is. For that matter, where’s the last hour and a half of my life? Have you seen that, Ginny? WHERE IS MY LIFE?


Welcome (Again) Camp Crystal Lake Counselors!

Yes! The rumors are true: Camp Crystal Lake is reopening! And this year, it is our goal to keep all the counselors alive long enough to actually see the first wave of Camp Crystal Lake campers. Now, we realize that CCL staff have not personally met campers since 1958 - and that's just plum unacceptable! This year we will change all that. And your survival sums up the entire purpose of this newsletter.

We hope that you have thoroughly reviewed the first Staying Alive At Camp Blood Newsletter. There are helpful hints and tools in that resource we will not repeat here. Instead, we intend now to add to our previous attempts to keep you alive throughout the entire weekend. 

One quick announcement: Crazy Ralph will no longer be with us at Camp Blood. We loved Ralph. We treasured his little black vest and blue bicycle. We even appreciated his kooky sense of prophetic doom. We asked Ralph to write a camp song for us last year: 

At Camp Blood, 
you're all doomed, 
you're all doomed, 
you're all doomed, 
I tell ya!
And at Camp Blood, 
I hide in pantries, 
hide in bushes, 
hide by trees
to look at ya pretty little girlses 
in your nekkid midnight swims
 or your screwing midnight hims
cause I like to see that stuff
when I can roll up on it
in time on my bike, ya.

(We're still working out the rhythm. Ralph was a prophet, not a song writer). As the sentiment above reveals, Ralph took to some Peeping Tommery here recently, which got him piano-wired to a tree by way of his voice box. Shame. We will miss you, Crazy Ralph.

Alright, alright. Let's get to it. After much deliberation, here's a list of things that WILL and WILL NOT get you killed at Camp Blood:

- drinking Heineken at the local tavern WILL NOT get you killed, but it also will not win you many cool points;
- peeping on couples in cabins WILL get you killed (poor Ralph);
- arm-wrestling the dude in the wheelchair WILL NOT get you killed, but going to your cabin to grab your secret-weapon brown panties to screw the guy in the wheelchair WILL;
- answering a booty-call on the second floor of the counselor lounge WILL NOT get you killed, but - again - skip the afterglow;
- approaching a bed on the second floor of the counselor lounge that is covered in blood and lumped up with two "sleeping" bodies WILL get you killed; 
- as always at CCL, skinny dipping WILL NOT get you killed;
- stealing the clothes of skinny dippers WILL NOT get you killed, but stepping into inverted suspension dangling traps while escaping with skinny dipper clothes WILL;
- parking your wheelchair near a really long flight of stairs WILL get you killed;
- keeping clean during menstrual cycles, according to camp director Paul, WILL at least keep the bears away - but, maybe not the maniacal killers.

If you find yourself pursued by a maniacal killer, we have discovered a few helpful DO's and DON'Ts:

- if you think there is someone in a dark room with you and your boyfriend DO scream at the top of your lungs, "Paul, there's someone in this fucking room!", but then DON'T just stand there when the maniac starts rolling on the floor with your boyfriend. DO grab something and, for God's sake, DO knock the shit out of him! 
- DO try the red Volkswagon Beetle to escape; DON'T be surprised when it doesn't start; DO use the car door to knock the hell out of the killer trying to stab you with a pitchfork dangling over the top of the car.
- If a maniacal killer chases you into the woods DO hide behind a bush and kick him in the jimmy when he comes around the corner, but then DON'T leave him there holding his johnson. DO beat the snot out of the joker while he's down!
- DO try to hide in a cabin, but DON'T hide under the beds. there's rats in them cabins and one might join you under the bed which will cause you to piss your pants and give away your position. 
- If your peepee on the floor gives you away, and the killer falls off a chair while trying to stab you standing on a chair with a pitchfork, but miserably falls instead, DON'T toss the killer's pitch fork UNLESS there's a chainsaw nearby.
- DO grab the chainsaw, but DON'T toss the chainsaw and run just because the fright of you caused the killer to trip over his own feet.
- DON'T take refuge in scary makeshift cabins in the woods.
- if you DO take refuge in a scary makeshift cabin, quickly find the first dead person you can, put their clothes on, and impersonate them to the killer. Especially if that dead person is the killer's beheaded mother! Yowsers!
- when your boyfriend comes to save you - again - because he's valiant and dumb enough to try to save you after you left him wrestling a cult classic killer already - DON'T just stand there - again. whack that mo-fo!
- after you have whacked that mo-fo - finally - DO go back to the cabin where you pissed yourself. yes, the killer will come back to find you, but that's also where you dumbassedly left the pitchfork the first time. so, you know, redeem your own mistakes, sista.

Okay, this should help you stay alive at least until the campers arrive. We will not actually be able to tell you what to do WHEN campers arrive until we have reviewed the camp tapes from our sixth camp season. Until then, I mean, good luck, y'all.

- Ginny

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Where's John Schneider When You Need Him?

[Read this in your best Waylon Jennings voice]
Looks like one of them Duke boys has got himself into trouble again. While Bo is off who knows where, Luke got himself into hot water with some ants. No, not Boss Hog's mama's sisters, I'm talkin' about some real creepy crawlies here. Don't know how he's gonna get himself out of this one - maybe Cooter or Enis will show up and save the day.

Here's the lame-o synopsis of THE HIVE: On some unnamed tropical island (or something - it's never really explained), the natives are being killed by some really mean ants. These ants are mean, I mean, they are seriously mean. They kill a baby. Mean, I tell you!

So then some experts in ant-killing are brought it (one of whom is the horribly fantastic Tom Wopat). They use some sort of fancy weaponry that kills ants, but leaves everything else untouched. The ants ambush Wopat and his buddy, and one of them burrows into Tom's inner ear, where it does... something. It's really unclear what the ant is doing - occasionally Luke Duke acts like he's in a lot of pain, but it doesn't seem to mean much.

Anyway, then we learn that the ants are really smart and they just want to be loved. Tom Wopat tries to nuke them, then an alien flies away. Seriously.

I love bad movies. I really do. But this one is just awful. The effects are the worst I've seen (and I've seen ICE SPIDERS and MONSTER ARK) - these Sci-Fi Network pieces of junk are so bad that MST3K would reject them. This methodology - slap together a silly story, cast a somewhat well-known actor, cheese up the effects a bit, and cash in - is a tried and true method in the horror world, but this is so bad that it's borderline offensive.

I don't have a lot to say about THE HIVE. There's just not much there. It's bad. Real bad. But on the bright side, you get to see Tom Wopat get blowed up. So you got that going for you, which is good.

THE HIVE gets one alien ant farm out of five.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


pepe guzman suggested we watch the first ten minutes of SON OF RAMBOW, just to get the flavor of it. unfortunately, the entire lot of us - pepe, pepe's bride, me, my bride, tito, tito's bride, and the Holy Ghost who probably warned us but who we all ignored - sat through the entirety of the entire film, which felt as ridiculous and redundant as the end of that last sentence.

where this film could have been cute, it was depressing. and where it could have been creative, it was dull. and where it could have been innocent and gushing over with naivety, it was oppressive and filled with a violence it could not redeem.   

pepe and i, for all our love and beers, rarely agree on art. we particularly disagree to disagree on films and the music of ani difranco - i just love loving her and he hates me not hating her. (okay.... wait, a minute.... i take that back.... we laughed our asses off together at SUPERBAD, and neither of us can quite get enough ricky gervais. these are rare instances though, i can assure.) however, we both stood up from last night's flop and collectively said: stupid. then we pounded fists.

this morning tito and kristen waxed eloquently of their dislike for the SON OF RAMBOW while pepe and i enthusiastically concurred. i've not asked pepe's bride, but my bride insists that the SON OF RAMBOW was "cute" and "entertaining." i'm not sure what film she watched while we sat through a grand concept poopooed by a horrible execution. 

i will say this: the kids in SON OF RAMBOW were great. they were totally fabulous. they did everything they knew to do and then some. i mean, really, take those kids out and fatten 'em up on dairy queen dilly bars. they were not to blame here. in fact, i'll go so far as to give the kids a whopping 5 scabs out of 5 - bless their little hearts and keep them away from the paparazzi. 

as for SON OF RAMBOW, which made a mockery of one of my favorite films - FIRST BLOOD - i give 1 burning record player out of 5. seriously, we should have watched THE MUPPET MOVIE.

ps. tito, that last link was for you.

Monday, September 1, 2008


to echo myles, my hesitation in even discussing the SAW films is that no one will read this. and i find that unfortunate. i'll openly confess before everyone here this day: i am a SAW fan. i like these movies. i like these characters. i like the way these films have evolved from simple crime dramas into their own twisted mythology. and i like the way there's a little bit of something for everybody in these films.

for literature majors and english teachers, the SAW films offer unending lessons in character development, the juggling of multiple themes inside a single text, and the role of the modern deity. for theologians and philosophers, the jigsaw saga gnaws at issues of mortality and abundant existence while constantly calling into question the wages of sin and the value of a life lived at tip-top moral capacity. for film-lovers and film-makers, SAW amounts to one horrendous mini-series revealing what happens when two friends sit up drinking beer and one says to the other, dude, if you could make a film with a super limited budget, what would you do?

the question seems insignificant until one steps back to view the panoramic totality of the SAW mythology. and i do not use the word "mythology" lightly here. when james wan asked leigh whannell - what film would you make - whannell answered (perhaps unintentionally) with a tale of gods and goddesses, aware of their own brevity, calling into judgment the morally wayward while offering new life through purgatorial sufferings. viewers may easily overlook the mythological aspect of the SAW films. upon seeing the violent traps and the tormented faces of the "victims", critics quickly chock these films up to one more ridiculous franchise of the horror genre; nevertheless, despite our initial reactions, there could be more happening here, something beneath the surface worth viewing through various lens. with these deeper elements in mind, i believe the SAW mythology begins with amanda young's (shawnee smith) introduction in the first SAW film.


viewers first meet amanda at a police station where detective tapp (danny glover) questions her experience playing a classic jigsaw game. in this initial impression, amanda appears withered, her eyes sunken and exhausted. bright-red cuts highlight the edges of her swollen mouth. bruised-purple track-marks on her inner arms indicate amanda's heroin addiction. because victims are chosen for squandering life in moral waywardness, amanda's track-marks explain her unfortunate role as a jigsaw test-subject. on the viewing side of a one-way glass, another detective and a doctor - brought in as a suspect for questioning - watch amanda's testimony. the detective asks dr. gordon (cary elwes) to listen carefully to her story. even as the doctor tries to leave, the detective implores him to stay, stressing that amanda's survival offers her a unique connection to the jigsaw killer.

through this pleading for dr. gordorn's attention, audiences should clue in to amanda's importance in the film. although a secondary character in the first SAW, this focus on amanda's testimony exalts her as the central voice to both the case and the overarching story-line. so far, each of jigsaw's victims perished in devices designed to inspire the value of life into their thankless existence. amanda is the first jigsaw survivor. her reaction to surviving the game, to escaping her trap, sheds a new light on jigsaw's mission.

furthermore, survival is not the only attribute setting amanda apart from other victims: she is also the first person to visually encounter jigsaw. until now, victims have only experienced jigsaw's voice on a small tape recorder placed somewhere near their trap. the prerecorded message greets the victim by name, exposes their moral weakness, and then explains how to survive their personalized trap. in the jigsaw universe, physical pain precedes and purchases moral healing; the more suffering a victim willingly endures, the stronger one's moral fiber and zest for life will grow as a result. as mentioned, victims guided only by voice each flagged in their endurance of their test, leading to their death. only amanda, greeted by a visual recording, survives. one has to question if the visual reality of jigsaw - the divine judge's physical manifestation through the burning bush revelation of billy the puppet - empowered amanda to believe victory was actually possible. those victims left to only the gruff drone of a psychopathic masochist, possibly questioned the validity of the promise, having no face or vision to connect to their conquering moment. perhaps lack of faith in their judge, rather than lack of zeal for life, led to their failure in the jigsaw games.

amanda wakes in her personalized jigsaw game with a rusty metal device attached to her head. her wrists have been strapped to the arms of a chair. because amanda's hands are bound, hindering her from controlling a tape recorder, jigsaw greets her on a television set. jigsaw does not reveal himself in the flesh, rather he introduces himself through the disguise of a puppet. the puppet greets amanda, then illustrates the purpose of the device attached to her head. a timer, rigged to springs, holds and controls the mouth of the trap. when the timer goes off, the trap will rip amanda's jaw open at the hinges - "think of it as a reverse bear-trap." a lock on the back of the device will remove the metal trap from amanda's head; however, the only key is in the stomach of a "dead" cell mate. if amanda can get the key out of her cell mate, undo the lock and remove the device before the timer goes off, she will win the game. her prize: survival.

this scene from the first SAW film marks the precise moment where jigsaw enthrones himself as a mythological god. here, viewers witness jigsaw equating his mission with that of Jesus Christ's, as well as calling and creating his first disciple. although amanda's overall significance in the SAW universe will not be revealed until future SAW films, three moments in amanda's testimony shed a prophetic light on the genesis of jigsaw's mythology.

1) as amanda approaches her "dead" cell mate lying on the floor, timer ticking on the springs of her metal headpiece, the camera pans past white words inscribed on the grayish-green wall behind her. amanda does not notice the words. if viewers pause the screen, they will read:

If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it, but if you give up your life to me you will find true life.

this, of course, alludes to Christ's rebuke of peter in matthew 16. as Jesus tells His disciples that soon He will leave them and suffer many things, even unto death, peter - full of righteous indignation - cries out against Jesus' plan, declaring, "Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!" (Matthew 16:22). Jesus then rebukes peter, calling him "satan" and saying that peter is "not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men" (16:23). Jesus then turns to His disciples and declares -

"If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." (16:24-25).

jigsaw singles out individuals bent on self-destruction. he chooses victims who unknowingly shorten their lifespan with each and every self-indulgent choice. according to jigsaw, the wickedness of pride does not result in self-indulgence robbing the community; rather, and much worse in jigsaw's estimation, self-indulgence leads to an unappreciative, mishandling of an individual's life. ungratefulness is the worst form of wickedness in the jigsaw universe. and these ungrateful miscreants, wallowing in lives of addiction and indulgence, make up the body of believers he hopes to convert - not believers in the goodness and beauty of life, but believers in him, in jigsaw, as the giver of second chances and redemptive gratefulness.

a vital distinction must be noted here: whereas Jesus took upon Himself the suffering and shame for those He came to save, jigsaw demands that his disciples endure the consequences of their own sins in concentrated doses for themselves. also, Jesus' salvation leads to a life that benefits the believer and the community; jigsaw's false absolution merely leads to further pride and self-exaltation above the ungrateful community at large.

the scene between peter and Jesus from matthew 16 echoes between amanda and jigsaw again in SAW III, ultimately leading to the death of one of these two characters.

2) in order for amanda to obtain the key to her own freedom, she must mutilate the body of another human being. the rules of amanda's test once again set her apart from previous victims: amanda's survival and gratefulness lie contingent in her willingness to destory another human life - which fits quite cozy into jigsaw's vision for renewed life. again, jigsaw's goal is not betterment of the community; instead, he desires gratefulness of the chosen individual despite the welfare of others. amanda's test celebrates her first course in the catechism of jigsaw's faith.

this unique requirement - asking amanda to harm another, not herself for survival - asks interesting questions about jigsaw's intentions for amanda. is jigsaw testing amanda's desire to live, or amanda's willingness to host future games, to set future traps, to take life in order to save life? did jigsaw expect amanda to survive? did jigsaw see in amanda a worthy conspirator, even a bride to join his broken union of salvation? it's hard to say - particularly when considering that amanda was the first to be greeted through visual means, that she was called with Christ alluded words, and that her test demanded harm towards someone other than herself, one has to wonder if jigsaw's plan ran deeper than merely teaching amanda a lesson about gratefulness.

through amanda's story in SAW II, she reveals her survival of many trials long before jigsaw found her. perhaps jigsaw knew this. seeing amanda as immortal to an extent, jigsaw possibly set amanda's trap more as a challenge of initiation than a game of moral fortitude. this proves particularly possible when jigsaw (again revealed in billy the puppet) rides out to greet amanda after she removes her trap. this time, jigsaw does not address her in a recording - he speaks to her in real time, saying:

"congratulations, you are still alive. most people are so ungrateful to be alive. but not you. not anymore."

with these words, jigsaw pronounces amanda "grateful" and, in doing so, deems her his equal. these words invite amanda to participate in giving life to others. for jigsaw, surviving near death experiences does not allow the survivor to pursue self-fulfillment and the realization of long-sought dreams. hardly. survival means devoting one's life to converting other ungratefuls into the fold. amanda has not bought her own freedom as much as she has earned her position atop mount olympus. zeus will now consummate his hera in the ways of judging and ruling over the masses of ungrateful mortals.

3) after amanda tells her story, detective tapp asks if she is a drug addict. amanda remorsefully and emotionally confesses her addiction. detective tapp then asks amanda, in the words of jigsaw, if she is "grateful". amanda smiles at detective tapp and replies, "He helped me."

amanda's testimony confirms that jigsaw achieved his purpose in divinely affecting her life. by claiming that he helped her, she also professes jigsaw's goodness. amanda does not seem to view herself as a victim, as victims rarely view themselves helped or bettered by their trials; rather, amanda views herself as an admirer of the person who brought positive change into her life, perhaps in the same way some recall a traumatic, even debilitating accident as marking the beginning of a better, more intentionally lived life. "better" - in each sense - seems to refer to a gratefulness never evident before the defining blast. and since gratefulness is the goal for jigsaw, amanda has achieved her life's purpose in his eyes.

when gratefulness meets intense admiration, the result may look like a disturbing devotion to the source of each elated emotion. a man can proclaim himself a god through his own voice, while never achieving a divine position in his own religion. a god requires admirers, devotees, disciples. a leader can only lead once he is followed. jigsaw needs amanda. he needs someone to survive one of his games. only then - once the first victim has survived and devoted themselves to his mission - can jigsaw become immortal through his work.

the circle is now complete. the creation of a demi-god's tormented faith is set in motion. jigsaw has found and rescued his beloved, his grateful equal. and she has responded by naming him the giver of her new life, the redeemer of her moral calamity. by these proclamations, jigsaw assumes his self-enthronement and takes a bride to assist in his judgements. the genesis of jigsaw's mythology bursts into dawn at amanda young's declaration - "He helped me."