Horror Ten Spot: Marcus Dunstan's Best Movie Moments!
Marcus Dunstan is one sick f*cker, and we mean that in the best way possible. The scribe behind FEAST 1-3, SAW IV-VII and PIRANHA 3DD - not to mention writer/director of THE COLLECTOR and his newest trap-and-torture ditty, THE COLLECTION - has been pushing the gore-brimmed envelop of what an audience can tolerate for the past decade or so. And for that, we love the man. As you may know, THE COLLECTION opens this week, and to show our support for such hardcore horror, we're feting some of the best onscreen moments (deaths or near deaths) directly inspired by Dunstan's pen. Or lens. Warning, what follows ain't for the faint of heart. Proceed with caution friends, this shite's getting messy!
"You learn this in the Marines?" "No, Rambo III!" - Legendary genre mainstay Clu Gulager utters such a line in FEAST III, doing so during a death scene as silly as the line spoken. When Clu's character tries to cauterize a bad flesh wound on a fellow survivor, he packs the sucker with a powder keg of explosives. Then, upon delivering that fist-pumper of a line, an incendiary chemical reaction sets off and blows the dude's arm plum off his torso...a geyser of blood rains down all over the joint. Both hilarious and breath-taking in one shot!
I'm awfully tempted to cite Henry Rollins' unceremonious death in pink sweats, but to be honest, the comedic repetition of Judah Friendlander getting sprayed time and time again by a putrescent vomitus in FEAST is too good to omit. As hardened horror fans, we all often get a kick out of the different ways people are killed onscreen. Here though it's the opposite, and the humor is derived from the fact that Beer Guy, no matter how sodden in toxic puke he becomes over the course of the picture, never fully succumbs. Makes me smile every time I see it!
Let's be honest, few things are better than watching a child get savagely mutilated on screen. Straight therapy! Well, in the cartoonishly ludicrous FEAST 2, Dunstan takes this conceit to the extreme. Oh you didn't see the flick? No worries, I'll give you the quick gist. When trying to escape a nasty, mutated creature with blood on the mind, a man ingeniously tosses the baby into mid-air, where it sails across the sky for like 30 seconds in slow mo, only to land face first on the asphalt where it's scooped up and eaten by the odious monster. Pure hilarity!
Marcus sure wasn't winning many friends with PETA after this one, and as a cat person myself, I can't fully forgive the psychic scars incurred by the ignominious cat melting scene in THE COLLECTOR. Funny, kill all the humans you want onscreen, no prob, add an animal to mix, deep sympathy is found immediately. That said, there's a hint of black humor to this one as well, as Arkin struggles to save the little bugger from a caustic glue. No such luck. Nor are there nine lives, as the cat ultimately gets its head squashed into a red sticky matter.
I can only imagine, or hope really, that Dunstan found inspiration for this next grisly trap from a dastardly woman who in the past did him wrong. I'd like to think of it as a fantasy playbook for how to treat any vile ex-girlfriend. Oh the therapy of movies! When a poor blonde has her Goldilocks spooled into a gnarly gear-mechanism, a slow build culminates in the bitch getting her wig peeled from her hairline and beyond. As the gears tighten, her scalp shreds, leaving a leaky tress pouring a deep red all over her pretty little face. Better, the bitch lives to suffer the vanity.
As ingenious as Jigsaw proved himself to be time and time again, he often harkened to historical bouts of butchery as well. Dude goes back to the future. In likely the most memorable death from SAW V, Jiggy goes finds inspiration in the 19th century, Spanish inquisition style, by swinging a ruthless pendulum upon a bound and helpless victim. The setup is expert in its suspense, the pay off offers a grisly beauty, the image is damn near everlasting.
As wince inducing as most of the SAW traps are, anyone who's spent as much extended time at the dentist as I have can appreciate just how grueling the fish hook trap in SAW 3D is. F*ckin' hectic! When a hapless lass is bound to some elaborate contraption, different drill-points applied to her neck and throat, a dude has to successfully fish a key out of the girl's stomach. Of course, attached to fish hooks, the girl's innards are not only diced up, when homey ultimately fails, the drill-heads pierce the chick's throat. Talk about insult to injury!
Taking a page out of Mitchell Lichtenstein's hilarious horror farce TEETH, John Gulager's ups the ante in terms of nut-biting terror in PIRANHA 3DD, which reunited the director with Dunstan and co-scribe Patrick Melton. Y'all know the deal...when a baby piranha slithers its way into the vag of a nubile teen, the slimy little fucker proves to be the best damn contraception ever. When the young lady is getting busy in bed with her man, uh yeah, the toothy flesh-eater sees light at the end of the tunnel. Turns out it was some dude's piece.
I would have loved to be in the writing room when Dunstan and his writing partner Patrick Melton came up with this one. Good god! Near the end of SAW VI, we're treated with an awfully foul but tremendously inventive fatality involving acid injections. Trapped in a large caged corridor, a man is suddenly impaled in the back with a multi-pronged tube. Acid is then dispensed, and it isn't long before the man is basically boiled into a bloody pulp, his guts spilling and bubbling into a liquefied goo all over the floor. Shite's no joke!
WARNING, THIS ENTRY CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE COLLECTION, IN THEATERS TODAY. That said, if you've been plumbing some of the behind-the-scenes and promo material for the film, you may already know the deal. Ever on the quest to raise the bar, Dunstan's opens his new film with a massacre of jaw-dropping proportions. Thing is, he doesn't just wipe out a whole nightclub with a giant meat thresher, he wipes out an entire plotline we think we're going to follow for the rest of the movie. He pulls a Janet Leigh in the opening act, letting more blood than a small war.