The Top 10 Best Traps from the Saw Series

Day 2 of our “Six Days of Saw” coverage!

The Saw series. Five films that have dealt an unremitting legacy of pain upon characters who dismissed their lives or led them down a corrupt path. And movie-goers have cringed and had their gag reflex tested time after time as the franchise introduced them to Rube Goldberg-esque traps which have become known for rending flesh, snapping bone and spilling blood.

In the early days of Twisted Pictures’ lucrative series, the ad campaign embraced the tagline, “How f**ked up is that?”, exploiting each Saw film’s sick, meticulously crafted scenarios – all executed by an ailing man named Jigsaw (aka John Kramer) and/or his pupils who must have deftly rocked their metal shop class back in the day because their engineering skills are jaw-dropping. Fans now head to the theater every October to experience a slew of new creative traps so that we can walk out and turn to our friends to ask “how f**ked up was that?”

With Saw VI hitting theaters this year (followed, inevitably, by Saw VII in 3-D next year), Shock Till You Drop decided to take a look back at the first five films in the series to pick our personal ten favorite Saw traps.

Let the game begin…

10.) The Pig Vat (Saw III): A trap for the Whole Foods grocery store set as this one is all about being organic. Distraught dad, Jeff (Angus Macfadyen) is put in a quandary when he has to intervene in the fate of Judge Halden (Barry Flatman), who dished out the sentencing of the man who killed Jeff’s son. There’s an emotional thread in this trap in that Jeff has to burn his dead son’s possessions to free the judge. The kicker is that Halden is anchored to a vat and said vat is quickly being filled with the viscous juice of ground up putrid pig carcasses! What a macabre and absolutely disgusting contraption. Fun fact: Bousman revealed that they almost burned the set for this sequence down because of an internal problem with the furnace Angus used. Whoops. (Ryan Rotten)

9.) Razor Wrist Box (Saw II): Ouch! Tell us you didn’t cringe when Emmanuelle Vaugier put her hands up through the glass box and, in essence, sealed her fate by unintentionally slitting her own wrists. Because Saw II was an ensemble piece, this trap actually wasn’t intended for her character as revealed in the director’s commentary. Still…a nasty way to go! Fun fact: Saw II actually started as a separate project that Darren Lynn Bousman was developing called The Desperate, but which was instead picked up by Lionsgate and Twisted Pictures to be re-worked into a Saw sequel. (RobG.)

8.) The Knife Chair (Saw IV): There’s something both primitive and satisfying about this device – Jigsaw’s very first. The conceit is simple: Strap someone to a chair, pin their forearms and slide their head just beneath a veil of knives. The man in the trap named Cecil? A despicable creature. Which is why there’s a certain level of glee watching this chump push his face through the knives to release his restraints. (Ryan Rotten)

7.) The Hair Trap (Saw IV): We always get a little nervous when we’re introduced to any trap with the full intent of doing damage to the head, so there’s nothing worse than the idea of a trap that slowly rips your scalp off. This iconic trap was one of the earliest teaser posters for Saw IV and it was all the more horrifying when we finally recognized it in the actual movie and realized the logistics of how it worked. To make matters worse, poor Brenda (Sarain Boylan) has no control over her own trap; instead her life is in the hands of Officer Riggs (Lyriq Bent), but as we find out, maybe she’s not all that innocent to begin with? (RobG.)

6.) The Pendulum Trap (Saw V): Production designer David Hackl hits the series in the director’s chair for the first time with an old school piece of work: The pendulum. Truth be told, I’m surprised it took five films before this was called into play. Forget the fact that it’s incredibly complicated to build – something I doubt Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) could have pulled off – in the Saw universe, it works, and here a murderer named Seth must have his hands ground like a beef patty to get free. Seth fails and is sliced in two. It’s grisly. It’s bloody. The denouement to his death scene is a real hoot: A splash of intestines hit the floor seconds before Seth’s restraining collar opens. (Ryan Rotten)

5.) Victorian Shotgun Collar (Saw III): Poor Lynn. She’s stressed. Has marital woes. She’s been kidnapped by Jigsaw and his protégé Amanda. Furthermore, she’s been affixed with a collar adorned with shotgun rounds. If she wanders away from Jigsaw’s hospital bed – where he awaits brain surgery at Lynn’s hands – or if he dies, that cute head of her will be blown clean off. The beauty of this trap is the wait. You spend the entire film’s running time wondering if Lynn will endure Amanda’s tormenting, and Jigsaw’s operation, long enough to have the collar removed (which she is ultimately promised should she succeed in her task). But this is Saw, suckers, of course we’re going to get a pay-off. And what a vibrant, fantastically grotesque send off for Lynn it is! The “act” of the collar going off is implied, however, we see the aftermath and it’s enough to make you barf. (Ryan Rotten)

4.) The Butterfly Ribcage Trap (Saw III): Another nasty one, and one of the centerpiece’s of Saw III, is the “butterfly ribcage trap.” Jigsaw has finally caught up to Kerry (Dina Meyer) and rigged an appliance to her rib cage; she has to fish the key out of a pitcher of acid to survive, alas, Amanda purposely sabotages this as well as several other traps in Saw III not giving any of these victims a fighting chance to escape. Poor Kerry has her chest ripped open like a set of butterfly wings, even after her hand takes an acid bath. (RobG.)

3.) The Cube Trap (Saw V): One of my biggest fears is drowning, so I can think of nothing worse than having my head trapped in a glass box that slowly begins to fill with water. While horrifying in itself, the best moment of this trap is when Agent Strahm gives himself a tracheotomy to avoid drowning. Shocking, but this moment induced the loudest audience applause from a sold out midnight crowd making it the stand-out scene of Saw V. Hands-down, one of the coolest traps (and escapes!) from the series. (RobG.)

2.) Venus Fly Trap (Saw II): The second entry in this, at the time, budding franchise after the success of Saw needed to open strong and hard. And Darren Lynn Bousman, making his directorial feature debut, definitely cuts deep with this Black Sunday-esque riff on the iron maiden. Much like the first film’s reverse bear trap, a key to the device has been surgically implanted. Michael, the bearer of the trap, isn’t asked to dig into someone else’s body cavity, however, to find it. The key has been placed beneath his eye, amplifying the bodily harm. Naturally, this sucker doesn’t have the nuts to dig out his peeper and he pays the ultimate price for that dire mistake. (Ryan Rotten)

1.) The Reverse Bear Trap (Saw): The one that started it all…literally! In the original five-minute pitch film that director James Wan put together, he had writer Leigh Whannel act out this scene, which became Amanda’s stand-out moment in the first movie. (Used also as one of the early internet teasers.) Being one of the only Jigsaw victims to survive this trap, we have to give props to the “reverse bear trap,” the one that helped make the franchise as memorable as it is. (RobG.)

What do you guys think? What are among your favorite traps of the entire Saw series?

Source: Ryan Rotten, RobG.

  • Cody Hanson

    My personal top ten favorite is the following that were ranked on how interesting, exciting to watch, physically/emotionally painful, and other stuff.

    10. The hair trap.

    There are to sides to it, officer Riggs and the girls. Once the girl is out she gets to choose to kill officer Rigg and be free from going to jail or spare him.

    9. The keys of life trap (saw V trap where five people are held by the neck with chains and must get the key in a box to get out.)

    The thing about this one is that they have to work together so they will be able to do other traps correctly. The fun part about watching it is the conflict between the characters and watching them get pissed off at each other.

    8. The carousel trap.

    This is fun because it randomly chooses the next victim and it is interesting to see if William will have them live or die. I was pissed when he let the blonde live because she sounded like a snotty little bitch.

    7. The Rack

    This one was cool because it slowly twisted each limb one by one until it twisted his head about 180° killing the victim painfully. Also someone had to take a bullet to get the key to free him and the bullet was taken, killing the judge from the pig vat trap in vain for it was too late by then. Also everything that was burned in the pig vat trap was in vain too. I really liked the pig animal :(

    6. The Horsepower trap (the one with the car in the garage in the final saw)

    This was the one with most kills at one time. It killed for racists. One of them was super glued to the back of the driver’s seat of the car and had to pull a lever within 30 seconds or else they all die. I would hate to be in the hot spot but at same time would hate to rely on the another person to save my life when I could possibly do it better myself.

    5. The 10 pints of sacrifice.

    This was meant for five people to sacrifice 2 pints each but only two were still alive and they had to sacrifice 5 each and barley live or have one of them sacrifice every last drop they had and kill themselves for the other person. This one disturbed me the most to watch because I can handle gore but when it comes to filling a jar with liquid blood I have a problem watching.I will never donate blood I always didn’t like seeing people take a needle and fill a clear container with blood eww.

    4. The knife chair trap.

    Just watch it and you’ll know why. It also fails near the end and instead of being greatful for being alive Cecil gets angry and goes after john but epically fails.

    3. The Venus fly trap. (Really called the death mask if you listen to the tape. He just uses Venus fly trap as a reference to what to think of it as to get a good picture in your head.)

    I like how the victim moves around when he first wakes up and all the camera angles in the begging when the trap is being shown. The way the actor looks at the mirror and touches the spot near his eye and how he quickly turns when the TV turns on. The actual doing the trap was fun to watch too. Look up saw ii opening scene to get best YouTube video of it rather than Venus fly trap.

    2. The pendulum trap

    I also like camera angles in this one too. Look up saw v opening scene foe best video in you tube for this one. Its sad in the end because he DID do what he was supposed to if you saw the hand crushing device go up by itself and heard him say quietly in the end “I did what I was supposed to.” This trap was meant to be impossible which is horrible for how he gruesomely died. It is horrible that he didn’t get a chance to stop the pendulum and spare himself from a very terrible and gorey end.

    1. The head drilling trap in the very first saw. (The victim was on a table with drill things slowly advancing toward his skull eventually killing him.)

    This was was awesome because 2 officers had to find the one correct key out of many on a key ring that was used to free the man on the table and they were also trying to arrest john (jigsaw) at same time. Jigsaw was sneaky though and had a hidden blade to kill the first officer and the second one ran into a trip wire causing around four shotguns to blast holes in him simultaneously killing him. I was not entertained more by any other saw trap scene there is. Look it up and see what I mean. Idk what better way to do it than to watch the actual movie so you get it full for sure. On you tube I just found it after watching other traps from the first saw movie.

    Please let me know what you think about my top ten favorites and loom up the traps that you need to remember if you forgot what it was like to watch some of them.