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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

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Halloween Edition- Masked Murderers

Gunfights and Films - Halloween Edition- Masked Murderers

We're getting even closer to my favorite time of year. Today we'll take a look at two films that are psychologically terrifying and completely unnerving. Both films involve nefarious characters in masks and extreme violence. Saw went on to become it's own franchise while The Purge has since had a sequel. I still can't watch either one of these movies alone, at night. The Purge speaks of a world that retains order by having yearly chaos and Saw makes victims of his games embrace their lives anew, if they live that long. When I'm looking for a good scare that will give me at least a dozen panic attacks I definitely put either one of these on. Let's take a look at these thrillers today.

Released in 2004, this film begins with photographer Adam Faulkner waking up in a bathtub filled with water. In his instinctive flailing, his foot catches and removes its plug; as the water drains a glowing blue object can be briefly seen to be washed away with it. After a few cries for help it is revealed that he is not, in fact, alone. Surgeon Dr. Lawrence Gordon  is on the other side of the same room, and soon finds the switch to turn on the lights.

Both men are inside a grimy, dilapidated industrial bathroom, chained to pipes at opposite corners of the room. Between them, out of their reach, is a body lying in a pool of blood, holding a revolver and a microcassette recorder. Both men discover envelopes in their pockets which contain microtapes; Gordon also holds a bullet and a key that does not unlock their shackles. Adam, with Lawrence's help, manages to snag the player from the body with which they play their tapes. Both tapes have the same voice, distorted by a pitch modulator. Adam's tape refers to him as a voyeur and asks him ominously, "Are you going to watch yourself die, or do something about it?" Gordon's tape reveals he must kill Adam before six o'clock which is within seven hours, as is evident by a clock on the wall, or his wife and daughter will die and he will be left in the bathroom. The tapes conclude with the eerie goodbye of "Let the games begin..." Hacksaws are later discovered in the toilet tank but  neither is sufficiently sharp to cut chain, and Adam snaps his in frustration. Dr. Gordon realizes that the saws are meant instead for their own ankles, which, if sawed through, would free them from their shackles.

The film then presents flashbacks of their captor's previous victims: Paul and Mark. Both men failed to escape, and hence had pieces of skin cut from them in the shape of a jigsaw puzzle piece; thus the reasoning behind  referring to him as the "Jigsaw Killer" by the detectives Tapp, Sing and Kerry who investigate the murders. Back in the bathroom, Dr. Gordon comments that they are dealing with a misnomer, as the killer never directly murders his victims nor places them in situations where death is unavoidable. In yet another flashback we are shown the police interrogation (with Dr. Gordon witnessing behind a window) of Jigsaw's only known survivor, a highly traumatized heroin addict named Amanda Young, who believes that her experience in the test has made her a better person in the end.

After a brief sequence where Adam and Dr. Gordon discover a hidden camera, another flashback sequence shows Gordon's last moments with his family, and their subsequent abduction. Another flashback shows an attempt by Tapp and Sing to illegally break and enter into what turns out to be one of Jigsaw's lairs. The two discover a man tied to a chair with two drills mounted on each side. Before the Detectives can secure Jigsaw's arrest, he starts the drills. While Tapp subdues Jigsaw, Sing attempts to save Jeff. Though Jigsaw helpfully points out a box that contains the key to release Jeff, the box in question is seemingly endlessly filled with keys; Sing shoots the drills instead, but the gunshots distract Tapp long enough for Jigsaw to escape, who slashes and permanently scars Tapp's throat in the process. While Tapp recovers from his deep knife wound, Sing pursues Jigsaw and is killed by multiple shotguns set on a tripwire.

His partner's death has a permanent effect on Tapp, and what was already an unhealthy fascination with the case deepens into an obsession that leads to him being discharged from the police force. Convinced from a piece of evidence from earlier in the film that Dr. Gordon is the Jigsaw killer, Tapp moves into a house across the street from Gordon's and monitors it with video surveillance.

Back in the bathroom, Gordon and Adam discover a box holding cigarettes, a lighter and a note suggesting he dip a cigarette in poisoned blood from the body and uses it to kill Adam. Gordon and Adam attempt to fool the camera by faking Adam's death with the un-poisoned cigarette, but a strong electric shock is sent through Adam's chain, proving Adam to still be alive. The box also contains a cell phone which cannot make calls, but receives one from his wife Alison, who tells Gordon that Adam knows more than he is revealing. Adam explains that he had been paid by Detective Tapp to spy on Gordon, and has witnessed him going to a hotel with the intention of cheating on his wife. In fact, Gordon left the hotel before doing anything, but this is between Gordon and the other woman, Carla, and no mention is made of possible previous encounters. In the pile of Adam's photographs which he hid from view of Gordon when found with the hacksaws, the two find a photograph of an orderly at Gordon's hospital named Zep, seen through Gordon's window after he left the house. Just as this realization is made, however, the hour of six PM strikes.

Alison manages to free herself and take control of Zep's handgun, however she is soon overpowered. Shots are fired, which attract the attention of Tapp, who wounds Zep. He is unable to keep him from leaving the house, however, intent on killing Gordon; who is only aware of the sounds of screaming and gunshots. Flung into a state of desperate temporary insanity, he follows his instructions by sawing off his foot and shooting Adam with the revolver held by the body in the middle of the room and the bullet found in his envelope.

Zep arrives, pursued by Tapp, however Zep manages to shoot Tapp fatally. He then enters the bathroom but tells Gordon he's "too late," because "it's the rules." Adam recovers from his gunshot wound, which was in fact non-fatal, and kills Zep with the toilet tank lid. Gordon crawls away to seek medical attention, promising to return with help.

Adam searches Zep for a key to his chain and instead finds another micro-cassette player. As the climatic theme of the series, "Hello Zep", begins, the tape informs Adam, that Zep was also following instructions under pain of death. As soon as Jigsaw's familiar voice ceases, the body lying in the center of the bathroom lets out a long breath. As Adam watches, his face frozen in horror, the dead man peels off the latex that gave the appearance of his head wound and then slowly rises to his feet. He is John Kramer, a terminal brain cancer patient of Gordon's; he is seen, briefly, in the same flashback where Zep is introduced. Jigsaw/John Kramer, whose voice is in fact quite weak, informs Adam that the key to his chain was in the bathtub all along; a quick flashback replays the opening scene of the movie, where an object is seen to disappear down the drain with the water.

Adam reaches for a gun to shoot John, but is stunned with electricity, triggering an extended flashback sequence that runs through the vital shots of the movie in roughly 30 seconds. Just before he flicks off the lights in the bathroom for the last time, John repeats a line he said to Amanda immediately after she escaped: "Most people are so ungrateful to be alive. But not you. Not anymore." John then shouts: "Game Over!" before slamming the door shut, sealing Adam in the bathroom forever, screaming his despair over the end credits.

Saw went onto become a major horror franchise but what's always been iconic is the mask the killer wears. An evil puppet face of sorts, it loomed in my nightmares for two days when I first saw it. The premise of fighting for your life seemed all to real. Masks tend to send a frightening and allusive message as you never know what lies underneath. But, let's take a look at some of the weapons used in this searing thriller. 

A Smith & Wesson Model 686 is found lying on the floor next to the dead body (Tobin Bell) in the room, Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes) is given one bullet and is told he has to kill Adam if he wants to see his family again, he ultimately ends up wounding Adam in the shoulder with the revolver.

Smith & Wesson Model 686 4" Barrel - .357 Magnum.

The 686 lies in the corpse's left hand.

Lawrence holds the 686 on Adam.

To watch the sequence titled "Revenge" you can do so here: 

A two-tone Wilson Combat "Protector" is used by Zep Hindle (Michael Emerson) in the gunfight with Detective Tapp, it is also briefly used by Alison Gordon (Monica Potter) when she obtains it after being held hostage by Zep, Adam (Leigh Whannell) also briefly picks it up after killing Zep and aims it at Jigsaw but gets shocked by remote and drops it.

Wilson Combat "Protector" - .45ACP (The gun used in the film has the mag well removed to allow the use of standard magazines for 1911).

Zep and Allison struggle over the "Protector".

Zep fires the "Protector" at Tapp.

During the warehouse flashback, an Ithaca 37 is used by both Detective Tapp (Danny Glover) and then by Detective Sing (Ken Leung) who both hold it on Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) before he escapes. After Tapp is wounded, Sing pursues Jigsaw with the Ithaca, and manages to shoot him in the back with it, before he is killed by a shotgun trip-wire trap.

Ithaca Model 37 Deer Slayer Police Special - 12 gauge

Sing aims the Ithaca at Jigsaw.

Tapp aims the Ithaca at Jigsaw.

To see the scene titled "Booby Trap", which these stills are  from,  you can watch it here: 

Get your pre-Halloween weekend horror fix in by watching all the films we've featured this month. Don't forget to visit our website for scary good deals on great tactical gear:   Cactus Tactical's shell carriers.   

And, just in case you want to know what the list looks like, here are the Top 10 Traps in the Saw franchise: 

To view the list of weapons you can go here:

The Purge

 is a 2013 horror/thriller set in a future United States where the government has granted one 12 hour period during the year where all crimes are legal. Ethan Hawke stars as a security systems salesman whose family is put in danger when their home is threatened by those participating in the Purge. The sequel, The Purge: Anarchy, was released in 2014.

It's 2022 and the United States is a nation reborn ruled by the "New Founding Fathers of America." To maintain low crime and unemployment rates throughout the year, the government has instituted an annual 12-hour period called "The Purge" during which all criminal activity, including murder, becomes legal. The only rules during The Purge are that "Level 10" government officials must remain unharmed and usage of weaponry above "Class 4" is forbidden. The Purge is designed to act as a catharsis for the American people, seen as a way they may vent all negative emotions however they desire for one night with no consequences.

James Sandin  is a wealthy salesman who has made a fortune selling home security systems comprising security cameras and metallic walls preventing any possible entrance that are specifically designed for The Purge. One of the neighbors, Grace, tells James's wife Mary the neighbors have been gossiping that the extension on the Sandins' house was financed by the security systems James sold them.

At their heavily-fortified house, Mary struggles with their two children, Zoey and Charlie. Zoey is dating an older boy named Henry whom Zoey's father doesn't approve of. Zoey goes to her bedroom, where she finds Henry, who snuck into the house before the lockdown. Henry explains to Zoey he wants to convince James to bless their relationship and figured he could not be thrown out of the house during The Purge.

The Purge commences after an emergency broadcast on television. James and his family watch the events of The Purge unfold via the video monitors in the lounge. After a while, Charlie is left alone in the lounge and notices a bloody stranger, outside the house pleading for help. Charlie deactivates the security system and lets him in. James intercepts the stranger and holds him at gunpoint.

Henry appears and opens fire on James, attempting to eliminate the obstacle preventing his relationship with Zoey. James fatally shoots Henry, and in the confusion the stranger escapes to hide within the house. Zoey runs off with the fatally-wounded Henry and watches him die. James then goes off in search of his daughter and the stranger.

Later, a group of masked "Purgers" led by a character known as "Polite Leader" arrives at their home, having found where the bloody stranger is hiding. The leader suggests that the family give them the stranger or else they'll kill everyone inside. James admits that the security system was designed to act as a deterrent, but not to withstand an abundance of types of aggressive assaults.

Charlie finds the stranger and leads him to a secret hiding place. Zoey, seeking to also hide there, inadvertently stumbles into the stranger, who holds her at gunpoint but James pounds a vase on the stranger's head. James and Mary tie up the stranger and, to subdue him, aggravate his wounds, in preparation to deliver him to the attackers.

After seeing James with Zoey, the Bloody Stranger defeatedly tells James to take him outside. However, the Sandins have a change of heart after realizing they are becoming essentially no different than the purgers outside. The purgers successfully break into the household and the Sandins are forced to defend themselves. One by one, James kills the purgers, but James is stabbed by the leader. Zoey, standing on the staircase, shoots and kills the leader.

Suddenly, the Sandins' neighbors arrive and finish off the remaining purgers. Mary thanks them, but the neighbors reveal that they have come to kill the Sandins: since the opportunity presented itself, they decided it was their patriotic duty to kill the Sandins in order to vent their hatred for the family's new-found wealth. Just as the neighbors are about to kill the family, the Bloody Stranger comes to the Sandins' aid. He kills Mr. Cali with his handgun and threatens to kill the remaining neighbors if they don't let the Sandins go, which they do.

Mary decides to spare her neighbors, as too many people have died during the night and to not allow them the pleasure of not having to live with the Sandins. Grace tries to grab Mary's gun to shoot her, but Mary deflects the attack and hits Grace with the butt of her gun and smashes her face into a glass table. The surviving neighbors and the stranger leave the house and walk away as sirens outside start blaring again, signaling the end of the Purge. The Sandin family watches the emergency services arrive outside their home.

During the credits, there is audio from television broadcasts stating that this Purge was the most successful due to the record high number of murders. The broadcast also features analysis and interviews that show growing discontent and shock by the American public at the increasing level of depravity with each subsequent Purge. Despite this, the Purge will recur as normal next year.

This movie is scary in the fact that in the general direction society moves a purge isn't necessarily a far cry. The psychological thriller seems as though it could hit a little too close to home. This film made me want to prep, have tighter security measures and in general want to make sure in any type of situation I could and would be able to protect myself. So, let's take a look at the different weapons we saw in The Purge. Also, the added factor of the purgers being in masks ups the horror film anty.

James Sandin has a nice collection of weaponry but let's highlight a couple favorites.

To view the scene where they lock down and we see the gun collection you can watch it here:

James  keeps a snub-nosed Taurus Raging Bull in his safe and keeps it on him until he gives it to his son Charlie when he sends him to hide in the basement.

                                                 Snub nosed Taurus Raging Bull - .454 Casull

                                       James takes the Taurus Raging Bull out of the safe.

                                James searches for Henry with his Taurus Raging Bull ready

After giving his Raging Bull to his son, James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) switches his sidearm to a Kimber Warrior.

                                                                  Kimber Warrior - .45 ACP

James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) takes cover with his Kimber Warrior as the Purgers tear down the doors.

To watch the scene titled "Home Invasion" you can do so here:

Henry (Tony Oller) uses a IJ-70 when he tries to kill James. The "Bloody Stranger" later uses it to defend himself from the Purgers breaking into the house.

                                             IJ-70 - 9x18mm Makarov

Henry (Tony Oller) tries to kill James with his IJ-70.

The "Bloody Stranger" keeps James at bay by holding his Daughter hostage with an IJ-70. Note the adjustable sights and what appears to be a compensator on the barrel.

To watch the scene with the Stranger you can do so here:

A Ruger KP95 with a stainless slide is also seen in James's safe. Mary Sandin (Lena Headey) later takes it when she goes to look for her daughter.

                                                                             Ruger KP95 - 9x19mm

                          Mary Sandin (Lena Headey) searches the house with her Ruger in hand.

The Purge is a reminder that havoc can break out at any opportunity and we should all be prepared if the SHTF. I think that's what seems the scariest, not knowing what strangers are capable of, much less your neighbor. Stay safe out there this Halloween holiday and leaving the frightening stuff to the film makers.

To see the other weapons used in this film go to:

Let Cactus Tactical help keep you safe in times of danger by checking out what we carry here:
Sig Sauer Adaptive Carbine Platform

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Shawn in the Korengal Valley, Kunar Province, Afghanistan.

For more info on these and other weapons
Technical specs compiled from:

"The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement."


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