Friday, October 30, 2009

Area man, 41, ready for another year of trick-or-treating

By Ken Devine

WEST SALEM, OR—For most adults, Halloween is marked as a day of giving candy to kids. For Timothy Higgins, it's a chance to be that kid.

This Saturday will mark the 36th-consecutive year that the creepy 41-year-old hits houses up for candy. On this Halloween the soft-spoken West Salem native will be amongst trick-or-treaters a quarter of his age or more—just as he's been during the last decade.

"It's just something that I never really grew out of," the only child admitted sheepishly. "My parents never told me I was too old to keep doing it, but then again I never really told them where I was between the hours of 6 and 8 p.m. every Halloween night."

Higgins, a Print Specialist at Kinko's, says that the real trick in treating himself year after year is in his costumes. His wiry 5'4" frame and tender voice allow him to blend right in with tykes and middle-schoolers alike, and he always wears a mask to conceal his true age. His favorites include the alien, evil clown, and Scream masks, but this year the lifelong singleton wants to cut down on the creep factor with a new Obama one.

"I'm trying to be a little more approachable because I think that helps with any single moms who are out with their kids," he surmised. "Each year I ask Sheila at work if she wants to go with me, but she always gets this disgusted look on her face and tells me to 'grow the hell up.' I like Sheila."

Despite the fact that most parents forbid their kids from trick-or-treating by the time they reach high school, or that independent groundless speculation has verified that more people call the cops on oversized trick-or-treaters than they do for any other incident during the year, the candy-obsessed Higgins is unafraid.

"I realize there are risks, but I've been doing this for too long, and I know the neighborhoods like the back of my hand," he said. "Plus, I haven't grown since the eighth grade, so no one's ever really pinned me as an undersized, middle-aged man masquerading as young boy in a gorilla suit."

"But there is one old lady at the end of the block who always stares at me for a while before slowly dropping a couple Good & Plentys in my pillow case," he continued.

"God, I hate Good & Plentys. They're worse than Sugar Daddys."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Struggling ‘Saw’ franchise extended through 2021

Get busy livin': Jigsaw’s made his choice

By Ken Devine

NEW YORK—The twisted serial killer Jigsaw will live to see many more Halloweens, says Lionsgate, who announced today that there are currently 12 additional films planned in the unceasing Saw franchise, which has become a Halloween tradition since 2004.

The news comes despite the framing of the just-released Saw VI, which was widely believed to be the final installment in an already dragged-out horror series that could have well ended after two movies.

Moreover, the announcement flies in the face of the diminishing, half-life box office earnings of successive Saw movies, with public interest and originality almost as dead as the blood-drained and footless Cary Elwes at the end of the first film.

The call for a dozen more pieces to an increasingly complex, flashback-furthering puzzle also seems to pose a storytelling challenge, considering that Tobin Bell's gravely voiced archvillain died at the end of Saw III. By 2021, Bell will be a 78-year-old filming flashbacks for a character who was killed 14 movies prior.

"Jigsaw's back story is far from over," insisted Saw VI co-writer Patrick Melton. "If we delve into his troubled childhood, there's all kinds of directions you can go. Did he capture school bullies and rip their fingernails off with rudimentary classroom devices? Was he physically abused by his stepfather when he was 6? Is he even really dead? We're on the tip of the iceberg here."

In each film, Jigsaw physically and psychologically tests the will to live of his ungrateful victims using death traps that serve as ironically symbolic representations of their real-life vices. Some opt to perform a horrific act of self-sacrifice to save themselves, but most die trying.

According to Saw co-producer Leigh Whannell, the games have just begun.

"If you thought after six movies that we'd exhausted every possible way to inhumanly torture, dismember and eviscerate victims with barbaric, vomit-inducing death traps, think again," he chuckled. "I guess we’re all pretty fucked-up in the head, especially when you get us all together in a room watching Seven for the 800th time."

Despite the poor performance in theaters and waning interest in the formulaic franchise, Saw has garnered enough of a cult following to keep it afloat in theaters—barely.

"We're not sure who, but someone is paying to see these movies," admitted Paul Dergarabedian of "Like we saw with the Hostel films, there are enough sickos in the world who get off on the torture-porn genre. And now they'll be able to get their fix every Halloween for the foreseeable future."

With so many future films slated, continuity issues may arise with the 67-year-old Bell, a self-admitted misanthrope who has loyally agreed to reprise the role of Jigsaw until he finds himself on his own deathbed.

But in a case of life imitating art, Bell's contract permits him to commit such cruel and heinous acts in reality only if he's ever diagnosed as terminal—much like Jigsaw’s alter ego, John Kramer.

"It was the only way to keep him coming back," said original Saw director James Wan. "Tobin loves doing these movies as much as we do—maybe more. If he's serious about actually orchestrating an elaborate, fail-safe plot to punish anyone who's ever pissed him off, I can't think of a better way for a sick old man to go out."

"The set pieces are his," he added.

In order to hold the interest level of a fringe fan base while desperately avoiding the straight-to-video market for what is tentatively projected to be an 18-part series, co-producer Mark Burg all but promises more inevitable, trademark plot twists.

"Does Jigsaw have an identical twin? Did he ever clone himself? Just throwing it out there," he said devilishly.

Prepare to die: Cary Elwes, in the last movie we'll ever see him in

Burg also hinted that some long-dead fan favorites might return.

"Being the star of the first film, Cary Elwes holds a special place in all of our hearts," he said. "The critics said his performance was painful, but if you didn't tell me I was watching a movie, I would've believed he actually sawed his damn foot off to free himself from those shackles. That's real acting there."

On another note, Burg ruled out the idea of bringing back Donnie Wahlberg, who has severed all communication with Saw personnel after his detective character's head was helplessly and unceremoniously smashed to smithereens at the end of the fourth installment. This after being promised a hero's return following an unknown-fate hiatus from Saw III.

In January, production will begin on Saw VII, scheduled for an October 2010 release. Despite a brutal 28% average approval rating for the first five Saw films on Rotten Tomatoes, Saw’s creators are determined to press on.

"We make these movies for the fans, and I wouldn't say we're 'dragging it out,'” he said defensively. "If anything, I would call it 'fleshing out,' especially since we've refused to allow the running time for the last few movies to go past 90 minutes."

"Where there’s a will, there's a way," he added. "Which is pretty much the moral of our preposterously never-ending story."

Impossible: 'Saw 3D' will be the final cut for horror franchise

Never Say Die'Saw': Lionsgate Begins Developing Next Sequel, 'Legacy'

Monday, October 19, 2009

Bruins, Red Wings fighting like schoolchildren over 9-year-old miracle shooter

Detroit's Ken Holland knows prepubescent talent when he sees it.

By Ken Devine

BOSTON—The Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings aren't playing nice in claiming way-too-early draft rights to Oliver Wahlstrom, the 9-year-old forward from the Portland Junior Pirates who became an Internet sensation last week.

Wahlstrom scored a jaw-dropping, lacrosse-style spin-o-rama goal in a shootout competition at Boston's TD Banknorth Garden last Wednesday, in which he swept up the puck in stride, spun around, rotated the blade of his stick with puck on end, and whipped a backhand past a frozen, dumbfounded goalie.

With a buzz circulating throughout hockey circles, many have compared the precocious player to a pre-teen Jeremy Roenick, or even Sidney Crosby, who is now out of his teens. Walhstrom's pee wee team mostly consists of 12-year-olds.

Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli wants first dibs on Wahlstrom for the 2018 NHL Draft, which is shortly after the Cumberland, Maine native is legally allowed to drink in Canada. Chiarelli is claiming ownership solely on the basis of home ice, since TD Bank's Mini 1-on-1 Challenge occurred at the Bruins' TD Garden arena.

Peter Chiarelli's biggest pet peeve is a tangled phone cord.

"We saw him first, we saw him first" insisted the 45-year-old Chiarelli, now in his fourth season as Boston’s GM. "Finder's keepers."

But the Detroit Red Wings are also laying claim to the third-grader, arguing that they are even more justified than the Bruins are.

"Oliver likes our team better than their team—he's said that the Red Wings are his favorite," Detroit GM Ken Holland pointed out. "If he wants to play for us, he'll have a spot here waiting for him when he can hold a stick firmly with two hands."

Chiarelli, however, decried Detroit’s need for Wahlstrom in building the relatively distant future of our franchise.

"The Wings have been loaded for years, and there’s no sign of them getting any worse," Chiarelli complained. "We'll need him more than they will."

There is no legal precedent in the NHL's bylaws to stake a player almost a decade in advance on grounds of territory or fandom, according to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. However, Bettman has publicly mentioned that he's open to amending the draft articles.

"Rules are rules, but they should never prevent the next Gretzky or Crosby from living their dream," he said. "We'll take a look at things and see if there's not some resolution we can reach before 2018."

Holland added weight to his argument by noting that the famed Mike Legg, who first introduced puck-scooping goals to the hockey world in 1996, played for the University of Michigan, which is geographically closer than Boston and also in the same state.

"If Chiarelli wants to argue territory, he’ll have to think about that one," Holland said sharply.

Chiarelli fired back, though.

"Holland doesn't know about the legally binding clause in the paperwork that Wahlstrom signed for the shootout competition. Actually, I'm not even sure that the kid or his dad knows about it."

"Let's just say there might be a line in there somewhere about the 'sole property of the Boston Bruins organization' that could be interpreted in more than one way."