I like a good horror movie, make no mistake. Even a good slasher movie. However, it seems like the trend in films lately is to just inundate the audience with gore, vomit, and unsettling situations. Movies like Wolf Creek, Hostel, and...wait for it, the Saw franchise. I like my horror films a bit more psychologically disturbing. My favorite horror film...heck, one of my favorite films period is The Shining (Kubrick's, of course...not the made for TV mini-series). I like imagery that disturbs because it's foreign and unknown, not imagery that disturbs because it's a situation I could actually imagine myself in. For example: elevator emptying blood into the hallway = good disturbing. Girl wading through a pit of used syringes = not my cup o' tea.
So, it should come as no surprise
that I'm not a huge fan of the aforementioned Saw movies. In fact, I only saw the first one. While the premise was intriguing, the various plot inconsistencies and overall lackluster production values (including Cary Elwes wearing way too much make-up) turned me off. So it may be something of a surprise that the Jigsaw Killer was one of the figures in NECA's Cult Classics Series 5 that I was really looking forward to.
See, as much as I didn't like Saw, it had a few disturbing things going for it. First off, you gotta love that freaky puppet, kind of Jigsaw's inanimate envoy when he can't physically be present for his gruesome "games." Second, I'm a sucker for people wearing pig masks, which just happens to be one of Jigsaw's favorite disguises. Thankfully, NECA has packaged both of these elements into their Jigsaw figure, although if pig faces aren't your thing, NECA also offers a standard, hooded-old-man version of Jigsaw.
Obviously, I opted for the pig-faced variant. The sculpt, as done by Craig Campbell and Michael Sanbothe, is very well done. Campbell also worked on CC5's Ash figure, as NECA clearly reserved the big guns (Kyle "Tankman" Windrix) for the long-awaited Hannibal Lecter figure. Still, Campbell and Sanbothe shine on this figure, and it's nice to see them get some credit for it right on the package.
Jigsaw's robe is done well,
and NECA's penchant for over-texturing (is that a word?) isn't terribly distracting here. He's got pretty standard pants under his robe, and some pretty serviceable boots and gloves. His anime-style spring-out wrist blade (used in the first film to slash Danny Glover's neck), is present and non-removable. It's more than just a blade; there are some springs and a rail sculpted as the blade disappears into the sleeve. It's a cool detail, even if the idea of the blade is goofy.
What really draws attention to this guy, however, is obviously his hideous head.
Unlike the standard figure, his hood is sculpted down around his shoulders, and he sports a mask that appears to be a real pig's head topped with a mop of greasy black hair. The eyeholes are black and empty, with some sickly yellow substance pouring down from them. The mouth is stitched up, and there's ragged flesh where the mask meets the neck, adding to the illusion that this is an actual severed porcine head, rather than a fake mask. Pretty sick. The stringy hair is your typical NECA hairpiece, which is usually fairly below average, but it works very well since this is supposed to look disgusting and ratty.
The paint is pretty good, with the majority of the application consisting of a matte black for the robe, pants, gloves and boots, and a glossy cool red for the lining and cuffs. The blade is your standard silver. The head is particularly well done, with subtle differences in the flesh areas, including the slightly darker nose and the aforementioned sickly yellow dripping from his eyeholes.
His articulation is typical NECA fare, with a balljointed head (limited by his scraggly hair), balljointed shoulders, pegged NECA-style elbows (or "NECA arm," as the kids call it), peg wrists, a peg waist, and peg ankles. It takes a while to get the ankles to line up right so that the feet are flat on the ground, but it can be done. The elbows may initially appear useless, but can be manipulated for some subtle shifts in the pose. The balljointed shoulders are the most useful, though I'm not crazy about the visible pegs. Ash has these also, along with many of the figures in SOTA's upcoming Now Playing Series 3 figures, and to me this is something that action figures have moved past a long time ago. If Marvel Legends can have balljointed shoulders without visible pegs, then specialty market figures certainly should be able to hide them.
Cult Classics figures rarely skimp on the accessories, and Jigsaw has one of the greatest accessories of any CC figure ever - the best accessory of 2006.
It's his sidekick, Billy the freakish puppet, complete with his tricycle! His sculpt is great, and he actually has more articulation than Jigsaw himself, as weird as that may seem. He's got a peg neck, balljoints at the shoulders, pegs at the wrists, balljoints at the hips, and peg joints at the knees and pant cuffs. For those keeping count, that's one more joint than Jigsaw. If you turn his left knee (the bent one) all the way around, you can get both legs straight enough that, with some tinkering, he can stand up on his own. However, his standard position is meant for him to fit on his tricycle, which he does rather well. His feet can reach the pedals reasonably well, and his hands are sculpted to grab the handlebars. The wheels are solid clear plastic, painted to look like they're thin wheels connected by even thinner spokes. The effect varies in how convincing it is, but it's better than broken spokes.
Cult Classics series 5 is probably the pinnacle of what NECA has offered thus far. They've really come a long way since being widely ridiculed as a McFarlane clone. Series 5 gave us two versions of characters McFarlane had previously released in their Movie Maniacs line, only NECA's done them better. They've also given us a figure McFarlane was never able to get around to making in Hannibal Lecter... and, I guess there were probably some people who like Saw, too. But even if you're not a Saw fan, you may want to snatch this variant up, for his wicked pig head and his equally wicked trike-riding puppet.
What do you like better: Saw-style gruesomeness or horror that's actually scary? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.