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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.