#055 James Wan: Saw vs. Dead Silence w/ guest Spencer Roberts and Matthew Kerr de Salles

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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare James Wan’s best and worst rated films, Saw (2004) and Dead Silence (2007), respectively. Nate thought Dead Silence needed more CGI tongues, Austin talks about his time marathoning the Saw franchise, and Spencer and Matthew are both terrified of dolls.

Check back Sunday, March 26 at 7pm PST where we will compare Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men (2006) and Great Expectations (1998), his best and worst rated films.

Also check out this interview of James Wan and Leigh Whannell on making Saw:

Dead Silence Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: A young widower returns to his hometown to search for answers to his wife’s murder, which may be linked to the ghost of a murdered ventriloquist.

  • Ratings: IMDb 6.2 | RT 21% C / 51% A
  • Released: 2007
  • Director: James Wan
  • Writer(s): Leigh Whannell (screenplay), James Wan & Leigh Whannell (story)
  • Cinematographer: John R. Leonetti (The Conjuring, The Mask, Insidious)
  • Notable actors: Ryan Kwanten, Amber Valletta, Donnie Wahlberg, Michael Fairman, Joan Heney, Bob Gunton, Laura Regan
  • Budget: $20 million
  • Box office: $22 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • During the climax, in the storage area with all 101 dolls, you can see Jigsaw’s doll from the “Saw” films sitting on the floor, and Edgar Bergen’s doll Charlie McCarthy on one of the shelves. The doll that Detective Lipton throws over his shoulder in this scene is a replica of ventriloquist Jimmy Nelson’s doll, Danny O’Day.
    • There are two different versions of the “Mary Shaw” poem. In the movie the poem goes, “Beware the stare of Mary Shaw. She had no children only dolls. And if you see her in your dreams, be sure you never, ever scream.” On the trailer it was, “Beware the stare of Mary Shaw. She had no children, only dolls. And if you see her do not scream, she’ll rip your tongue out at the seam.”
    • “Billy” was not only the name of one of the dummies in this movie, but also the name of the puppet used by the Jigsaw killer in the “Saw” movies, also created by Leigh Whannell and James Wan.
    • The film was made into a haunted house at Universal’s “Halloween Horror Nights” in 2007 in Florida.
    • The film is dedicated to producer Gregg Hoffman. He died 2 years before the film had its theatrical release.
    • Leigh Whannell was so unhappy with the finished product, due to studio interference, that he decided to write all future scripts on spec, as opposed to pitching an idea to a studio and then being paid to write the screenplay, as was the case with this film.

Saw Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: Two strangers awaken in a room with no recollection of how they got there or why, and soon discover they are pawns in a deadly game perpetrated by a notorious serial killer.

  • Ratings: IMDb 7.7 | RT 48% C / 84% A
  • Released: 2004
  • Director: James Wan
  • Writer(s): Leigh Whannell (written by), James Wan and Leigh Whannell (story)
  • Cinematographer: David A. Armstrong (Pawn, On the Inside)
  • Notable actors: Leigh Whannell, Cary Elwes, Danny Glover, Ken Leung, Dina Meyer, Paul Gutrecht, Michael Emerson, Benito Martinez, Shawnee Smith, Makenzie Vega, Monica Potter
  • Budget: $1.2 million
  • Box office: $103.9 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • According to the DVD commentary director James Wan points out that many of the scare scenes in the film were nightmares he and Leigh Whannell had as kids.
    • All of the bathroom scenes were shot in chronological order in order to make the actors feel more what the characters were going through.
    • One of the most profitable horror films of all time.
    • Filmed in 18 days.
    • Director James Wan took a gamble and took no “up front” salary for the movie and opted for a percentage instead.
    • James Wan did not intend to make a torture porn film. It’s not really until the sequels got into gear that the films got what he describes as “more explicitly nasty”.
    • The sequel Saw II (2005) was approved for production the weekend this film opened.
    • Casting director Amy Lippens chose her ex-husband in the role of Mark, the man who burns himself alive.
    • Film’s pre-production was only five days; it was shot and cut at the same time in 18 days (all of the bathroom scenes were shot in six days). The actors had absolutely no rehearsals. The rehearsal takes were actual footage for the film.
    • James Wan wanted the camera movements to reflect the two main characters emotions and personality. He filmed Dr. Gordon with steady controlled shots and Adam as hand-held shots to capture their emotions of the situation.
    • Jigsaw’s puppet was completely made from scratch by the films creators (it was not bought at a store or a puppet that was altered).
    • The MPAA originally rated the film NC-17, due to the film’s tone; director James Wan had to remove some content to secure an R rating.
    • In post-production, James Wan discovered that he didn’t have enough shots or takes to fill out most of his scenes. So he and editor Kevin Greutert created their own filler shots by doctoring some of them to make them look as if they were filmed through a surveillance camera.
    • Originally intended for a straight-to-video release. After positive screenings, it was given the nod to become a premier movie.

Intro music: Calm The Fuck Down – Broke For Free / CC BY 3.0


The Best and Worst of the Best Podcast is a show where host’s Nate and Austin compare a film director’s best and worst rated movies to see where they went wrong.

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