I have always gravitated towards classic horror. Give me a creaky old Universal or Hammer horror film any day of the week. However, I can also appreciate modern-day horror. Back in the 80s, I would watch countless horror flicks on HBO with whoever the latest slasher was. By the 90s, with my wife not being a horror fan and the arrival of parenthood, the gory movies were left unwatched for the most part. However, as my kids grew up and love to be scared, I soon began to watch the Saw franchise. Now, I’m not a fan of so-called torture porn but if the plot is unique or the movie is presented well, these can be guilty pleasures of mine. Back in 2009, I was very interested in The Collector but it disappeared after one week in the theaters. I did a blind buy when it came out on DVD in 2010 but as of a couple days ago, it remained unwatched. That is until I discovered that The Collection I had been seeing trailers for on TV was actually a sequel. My son Joey had already seen the first part so I had to do some catch-up before we hit the theaters to see it.
The Collector (2009) is indeed very gory with very little plot. It centers on our main character Arkin O’Brien (Josh Stewart), a handyman by day and safe cracker by night. His wife is in debt and needs money or she’s leaving town with their daughter. Having befriended his latest clients, he knows where the family safe is so he has until midnight to get her the money she needs. Upon breaking in, he soon discovers that the family was already visited earlier that evening by The Collector. We eventually learn that he was the exterminator who worked the house earlier in the day. He has rigged the house with deadly booby-traps and is torturing the family one-by-one. Arkin tries to save them but he is always one step behind or they choose not to listen to him. Meanwhile, somewhere in the house is a little girl, who he bonded with earlier and who reminds him of his own little girl. The movie has a feel of a Saw movie with all of the grotesque traps and gritty atmosphere. No surprise as the movie was written by Marcus Dunston and Patrick Melton, writers of Saw IV, Saw V, Saw VI and Saw 3D: The Final Chapter. I will say that The Collector (Juan Fernandez de Alarcon) has the possibility of being a new franchise slasher. He’s behind a mask, has insane eyes, childlike mannerisms that turn to maniacal madman and there is enough mystery as to why he’s doing what’s he’s doing. By the end of the movie, the police have arrived but we don’t get a happy ending at all. Spoiler alert, Arkin escapes only to be recaptured and placed inside a red box, which seems to be where The Collector places one victim from his previous crime to use as bait for his next. The movie was originally filmed by Dimension Pictures but when they ran out of money to release it, Lidell Entertainment purchased the rights. Although it did have a very brief theatrical run, it received less than favorable reviews and earned less than $8 million. However, with a budget of only $6 million, it made enough to do a sequel.
The Collection (2012) surprised quite a few people. Nobody seemed to know this was coming out and everyone is surprised that it was even made. However, as far as sequels go, it’s actually very good. Picking up right where the first movie left off and expanding on the storyline. We come to find out The Collector has left a trail of bodies and apparently kidnapped some 50 people. A nationwide manhunt is underway. As our movie begins, Elena Peters (Emma Fitzpatrick) is the sole survivor of what has to be one of the bloodiest and highest body count massacres for a screen slasher to date. We discover Arkin is alive and being used as the bait. He escapes only to be captured by men working for Elena’s father (played by Christopher McDonald). They want Arkin to take them to The Collector. As he marked his arm to track the way to his lair, he takes a team of mercenaries to an abandoned hotel (although why he didn’t offer that to the police is major plot hole). What follows is a game of cat and mouse that includes a victim working for The Collector, horrific zombified victims and a menagerie of experiments presumably conducted by The Collector. It’s just as gory and extreme as the first. By movies end, we discover who The Collector is and Arkin seemingly gets his revenge…at least until the sequel.
I have to admit these movies were very gory and to a degree unoriginal. That said, they are officially guilty pleasures of mine. I like the tense and creepy feel of the movie, never knowing what was coming next. The Collector (played by Randall Archer in the second movie) definitely has some unique qualities that could earn him a spot alongside legends like Leatherface or Jason. These movies are not for the squeamish and if you are turned off by the Saw franchise, you should avoid these movies. They are not perfect by any means but they are better than a lot of the direct-to-video junk that’s released these days. If you enjoyed the originality that the first Saw movie offered, give these two a try.