By John Young
Updated October 24, 2007 at 10:32 PM EDT

Saw IV opens Friday, so I wandered over to Lionsgate’s Santa Monica office yesterday, where the indie studio was hosting its Fourth Annual SAW “Give Til It Hurts” Blood Drive. Lionsgate has teamed up with the American Red Cross to encourage Saw fans to drain a little of their own blood for, you know, life-saving purposes. Approximately 1,200 Red Cross centers across the nation are ready for donations from an entirely untapped demographic — torture-adoring movie fans.

This is all a noble cause, but isn’t there something weird going on here? The donation site was decorated with a variety of Saw memorabilia, including an eerie Jigsaw doll (to be auctioned online) and what was described to me as being the “Saw Pig” costume (a raffle prize). The donation chairs were set up so that you could watch the Saw IV trailer while giving blood, and after the withdrawal was complete, you could “unwind” by sitting in a comfy screening room and watching the trailers for all four Saw movies.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to see anything relating to blood, let alone pigs, when I’m about to donate. Yet this isn’t a problem for other people. Last year, when Saw III (starring Tobin Bell, pictured) came out, Lionsgate collected over 23,000 pints of blood; this year they’re aiming for 60,000. Again, very noble, commendable, honorable, etc. Just weird.

Franchise stars Scott Patterson, Betsy Russell, and Lyriq Bentshowed up to donate blood, and I tried to unearth a few details about the new installment from them, but their lips were mostly shut.

addCredit(“Saw III: Steve Wilkie”)

“It’s a combination of ‘Saw I and Saw II,” said Bent,who returns as SWAT Commander Rigg. “It has the psychological element,the character drive and some blood and gore to top it off.”

Scott Patterson, who’s also Gary on The CW’s Aliens in America,assured fans that, oh yes, there will be twists. “They’re going to beshocked by where this movie goes,” he said. He also revealed that hesigned a contract for Saw V and Saw VI. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be in those films, but it’s definitely possible.

What it does mean is that you can pretty much mark your 2009 and2010 calendars (the series will supposedly take 2008 off). As a mereobserver to the Saw phenomenon, I must ask, how long can thisseries go on for? Or, more importantly, how long do you want it to goon for? And can horror movies such as the Saw series actually encourage you to donate your own precious red fluid?