Saturday, November 27, 2010

The XXX-Factor: SAW: A HARDCORE PARODY (2010)

Confession time: I’ve only seen the first two SAW films.  I enjoyed them for what they were, but oddly had no desire to see rest of the series.  Maybe it is my old age or the realization that the series writers are just making it up as the go along.  Regardless of my puny participation, the SAW series has gone on to become the highest grossing horror series of all-time, having amassed over $839 million worldwide with the release of the seventh entry (“in mind-blowing 3D!”).  Of course, I’m sure the producers and filmmakers hadn’t felt like they were truly successful until a porno spoof was made of their cash cow. Well, their dreams have been answered.

SAW: A HARDCORE PARODY centers on a bizarre series of torture slayings in the adult entertainment industry.  Pudding-lovin’ Detective Roush (James Bartholet) and his partner Detective Humpsey (Syren De Mer) are on the case and start off by interviewing lone survivor Amber Rayne (playing “herself”).  Right here the film lets you know level they are working on as she is laying in the hospital bed ass up and cringes at revealing her real name of Gertrude Vagina.  Oh boy.  Anyway, she recounts a tale of horror about waking up in black room strapped to a wooden horse with a mechanized dildo in her ass and a naked dude in a gas mask in front of her.  A creepy puppet pops up on a video screen and informs her she is being punished for her years in porn.  She has a set amount of time to get the guy in front of her off and she must hurry as the machine behind her is also attached to strangling collar around the guy’s neck.  If she fails, he dies.  And who is this guy?  “I’m your biggest fan,” he says, to which she replies while checking out his manhood, “You’re certainly not my biggest. I’ve seen bigger.”  She succeeds right before the guy is killed and she is freed.  The only info she can offer the cops is when she left, she remembers “I looked behind me and there was a green door.”  Porn humor, yay!

We then cut to cutie Lexi Belle deciding to get it on with the 30-year-old pool boy. Her husband arrives home from Iraq and is furious.  “I’m really lonely and I needed cock really bad,” she says.  AND CUT! Yup, we are on a porn set and director David Lord is figuring out how to make this threesome logical.  After the hot-n-heavy session, Belle goes to take a shower and is abducted by a man in a cloak.  No PSYCHO joke? Booooo!  Meanwhile the detectives visit Captain Ron (the ubiquitous Ron Jeremy) to fill him in on their investigation.  He comes up with a clever idea that one of them should go undercover as a porn star, to which female half refuses.  So, yes, we get the ugly male cop going undercover as Stubbs Rubenstein.  Before leaving the office, Humpsey asks the Chief where his secretary is.  “I sent her down for the old foot long.  She’ll be coming soon,” he says wryly.  When the coast is clear, the secretary (Ginger Lynn) pops out from under the desk and they get it on.  It is not a pretty sight, trust me.

The film then jumps to Lexi Belle waking up strapped into an electrified chair.  The clown on the screen tells her she has one minute to spell out a euphemism for blowjob with the letters in front of her. She is so close to spelling out “fellatio” but drops the “o” and is killed.  Roush then gets his first undercover scene as he gets it on with Emy Reyes. Afterward, he questions her for information and she recalls seeing Lexi Belle carried out of a building and placed in a trunk.  That, it would seem, is normal for Belle’s career but Reyes says she became alarmed after Belle hadn’t updated her Twitter for a couple of days (actually funny and the film’s comedic highlight).  Director David is so impressed with Roush’s “performance” that he invites him to another shoot.

Back at the office, Roush and Humpsey review a tape of the first murder of three porn stars.  Evan Stone had an explosive device placed in his chest and is forced to keep it up with Asa Akira and Britney Amber for 40 minutes (the horror!) for his years of making “men feel inadequate.” The girls, in turn, have explosive collars around their necks which will detonate if he fails.  The trio tries their best but he finishes 2 seconds before the allotted time.  Ouch.  There’s nothing worse than a 39 minutes 58 seconds man.  What interests the detectives are the numbers 31253 painted on the floor.  What could that mean?  Anyway, Roush heads for his evening gig while Humpsey goes to tell the Chief about their findings.  In his empty office, she sees a plaque on his wall and his badge number is 31253!  Yes, the Chief is the killer and Humpsey rushes off to the warehouse location to save the day.

Did I just spend four paragraphs summing up a porn film directed by a guy named Dick Chibbles? Yes, apparently I did.  SAW: A HARDCORE PARODY is really a mixed bag.  On the positive side, I appreciated the attempt to merge the SAW landscape into the porn world.  And how can you not love the fact that Ron Jeremy is the killer and the reason he is doing this is because modern porn “lost its passion, its lost its artistic attitude of what is hot.”  Did they really make a self-reflecting horror-porn parody?  Be still my heart, it is a dream come true.  THE PLAYER (1992) of the porn world! Well, not so fast there.  Despite an admittedly clever premise, the film stumbles greatly on the execution.  For example, I praised the idea of Jeremy as a video vigilante looking to redeem the sexy world of sinema, but, unfortunately, he delivers his character's passion with all the zeal of ordering a pastrami sandwich. I won’t cut Jeremy slack either because you know he can do better. Additionally, the production values (in a porn world context) are a bit iffy. The sets have some effort put into them, but are marred by some shoddy videography and bleeding lighting.

Just like the production values, the performances are all over the map.  Leads Bartholet and De Mer are actually good as the detectives, although he might be a bit too goofy.  There is also some cruel injustice in seeing him perform in a scene (he looks like a cross between Danny McBride and Ricky Gervais) and her role is non-sex (she is shown nude during an amusing daydream bit).  And for a porn, there is a decidedly amount of unsexy sex.  Belle, Akira and Amber are all fine in their scenes, but again things are undermined by uninspired direction and flat camerawork.  The production definitely would have benefited if they tried a bit harder to ape the SAW series style (other than setting up colored lights).  I would have loved to have seen what FRIDAY THE 13th PARODY director Gary Orona would have done with this material.    
It ain't 1984 anymore... :-(
Perhaps the most shocking thing about this film is the appearance of porn legend Ginger Lynn.  If you grew up in the 80s and were a prying teen male, Lynn was the reigning queen of hotness.  She was damn sexy and matched that with what appeared to be genuine gusto. Lynn left the industry in 1986 to focus on mainstream work and succeeded in the b-movie world with stuff like VICE ACADEMY (1989), where she got to show off some good comedic timing.  She made a brief return to the industry in 1999 for three films and got gigs in more mainstream stuff in the new millennium.  A porn return was inevitable and she came back to the industry in 2008.  I call this return “shocking” because she has clearly aged.  It is like when you heard Marilyn Chambers was coming back to porn and, when you finally saw it, realized that porn women are real women and age too.  Dammit!  That is not to say Lynn has lost her fervor, as she retains her trademark enthusiasm.  It is just a really surreal “get off my damn lawn” moment watching the 47-year-old Lynn mimic the motions of the 24-year-old of long ago. Damn, where is my hot tub time machine?

Moments of Clarity:

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