The Curse of the Completist


Purdy, purdy packaging.

Purdy, purdy packaging.

It’s dirt cheap, and it’s right there in front of me—Saw V on DVD in attractive, transparent packaging with a splash of red. I turn over the jewel case and check out the extras. Not bad, not bad. I hesitate. But after a few seconds of deliberation, I put back the DVD and move on. Flipping through the other titles on sale, I come across it again. What a relief. Now I know that there’s one more copy on the rack, in case someone grabs the first one I saw. Lo and behold, there’s even a third one. I couldn’t be safer. There’s plenty of time for me to mull over my options …

When Saw V was gearing up for its theatrical run last fall, I decided that I wanted to see it on the big screen. But I’d only seen the first two installments, which I already owned on shiny disc, so I ordered the “extreme editions” of parts three and four to get up to speed. Alas, the third installment wasn’t that good, and the fourth one just confused my poor zombie brain. So I nixed my original plan, and part five went unseen. And yet, now … it’s dirt cheap, and it’s right there in front of me.

Such is the curse of the completist. Even when a franchise has lost much of its appeal, you still feel a strong compulsion to own the movies. This explains why I have every installment of Friday the 13th—yes, even A New Beginning. If I didn’t have A New Beginning in my collection, there would be a fissure between parts four and six (the best ones!), and that just isn’t in the cards. And when I got Freddy vs. Jason, that left nothing less than a gaping pit of deficiency down to part seven. So I had to get Jason Takes Manhattan, Jason Goes to Hell, and Jason X to shore things up again. Stands to reason, really. Completist reason. Don’t try to understand it.

But there was no hole in my Saw collection. It was just incomplete, and that’s another matter. The pull of retail gravity isn’t quite as strong in those cases. I was able, in fact, to resist temptation—a minor, but significant, victory for the weak-willed completist. (Is there any other kind?) Why subject myself to the continuing, maddeningly contrived exploits of Jigsaw, who died in part three anyway? I walked out of the store with the deluxe edition of Superman: The Movie instead. (Four DVDs for less than $10—yay!) But does this mean that the curse is actually broken?

It’s been about three weeks now, and I’m still thinking of going back. Maybe tomorrow. Just to, you know, check up on things. Saw V might not be so bad. It had a new director. And I really like the grimy, industrial set design of the series. Come to think of it, the opening scene of part four is a real franchise highpoint. And what with part six due to come down the pike in October, I’ll have to see the previous entry if I’m to make sense of it. But why would I want to see either of them, after the disappointment of part four? Why do I bug myself with these thoughts?

The curse of the completist is always needing to be sure.



  1. I still owe you a birthday gift, you know – so we could easily make this sneak into your collection without putting you back a dime.

    • Hee hee – YOU decide, Hilde! If you DO decide to get me this, I’ll do my best to understand part four!

  2. […] I came across Rats: Night of Terror, a slice of slightly tempting Italian cheapo horror from 1984. As is my habit when I only kind of want something, I dithered. Long story short, I didn’t buy Rats: Night of […]

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