There is a common thread between director and editor Kevin Greutert's favorite films: The fantastical visions they manifest through their creativity and innovation. (That, and the number of times he's rewatched each of them.) In some cases, the films have even gone on to directly influence his own filmmaking.
Greutert has been a consistent creative presence in the gory yet wildly successful Saw franchise since its inception, having edited 2004's James Wan-directed Saw. He went on to edit the next four installments in the series, before helming 2009's Saw VI and 2010's Saw 3D. (Greutert also served as the editor on 2017's Jigsaw, and then executive produced 2021's Spiral: From the Book of Saw.)
He's now back with Saw X, which is the milestone 10th entry in the franchise but chronologically takes place between the events of the original Saw and Saw II, following Tobin Bell's John "Jigsaw" Kramer to Mexico for a twisted new game. The movie marks the first time that Greutert has both directed and cut a Saw film.
"I think [a background in editing] equips you a little bit better than somebody that comes into directing from writing or assistant directing," he muses. "However, learning how a film crew operates was very new to me. I had to learn it on the spot, and I'm still constantly learning things that would be considered the basics in filmmaking."
Below, Greutert shares with A.frame the five films that continue to inspire him.
Directed and Written by: Werner Herzog
I've been a huge fan of this movie since I was a teenager. I love that even though it takes place 500 years ago in the Amazon jungle, it sometimes feels like a documentary. Most of Herzog's best work is documentary, which probably informs it a bit. Still, I love the idea of a 16mm camera crew and a bunch of sweaty dudes in conquistador armor getting on a raft, floating down the Amazon River, and seeing what they can shoot. It has an amazing scene at the end where everybody is dying on this raft, and they get swarmed by hundreds of little monkeys. There's an absurdity to that whole thing makes it my favorite.
Directed by: Ridley Scott | Written by: Hampton Fancher and David Webb Peoples
If you use the number of times I've seen a film as a good indicator that it's a favorite, I'd say Blade Runner. I've seen every version of it multiple times, including one that they now call "the Workprint," and it was presented by the legendary visual effects supervisor Douglas Trumbull as literally the workprint from when they edited the film. It had a different feel to it, and as an editor, I have strong memories of what each of the versions is.
There was the original theatrical one that had the goofy voiceover but was still such an incredibly visual feat. The Vangelis soundtrack was perfect for that movie and that time in history. When you get to the final Director's Cut, it feels much more refined. Even though the editorial changes took place over decades, it shows how important editing is to a film. It's mostly the visuals of that movie that make it so great, and of course, Rutger Hauer's monologue at the end.
Directed by: Stanley Kubrick | Written by: Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke
It's tough because Stanley Kubrick did A Clockwork Orange and The Shining, but I have to say 2001, because people are still scratching their heads over that one, and the visuals are so incredible. Of course, watching the movie as a little kid, I didn't understand it, but I'm relieved to know that, to this day, most adults don't either. The idea that he would shoot the visual effects for that movie — like at the moon base — on the same negative, rather than do matte composites in post-production and put the negative aside, then eight months later shoot what goes into the unexposed. That's ballsy on a level that I never would have thought of and definitely would never try on one of my own films. He was such a great visionary, and I've seen most of his movies many times. Of course, The Shining is probably the greatest horror film of all time.
Directed by: Blake Edwards | Written by: Arthur A. Ross
Again, if the number of times seen is an indication, there's The Great Race, that as a child, I probably saw a hundred times. It's so dated and cheesy now, but sometimes, when I get together with my siblings, we put it on and watch it. There's a scene in the seventh Saw movie — or Saw 3D, as it was called — where we see the Jill Tuck character killed in a fantasy Jigsaw trap, where she's standing chained up on a train track of some sort. The storyboard for that sequence is a scene from the beginning of The Great Race, where Professor Fate, played by Jack Lemmon, rides a rocket down a train track. I love to think that there's a The Great Race reference in a Saw movie.
Directed by: Victor Fleming | Written by: Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf
I think Star Wars is the only other film that creates an entire universe in one movie in [the same way as The Wizard of Oz]. The production of both those films was a big mess, and it somehow came together. It's such a beautiful film that you can watch over and over and over again. There is fantastic music, but the visuals in The Wizard of Oz and the number of elements that people still talk about and think about today, it's very hard to beat. Star Wars might be the only comparable film for me.