Jigsaw John Kramer

Saw is an American horror media franchise consisting of ten feature films. The first eight films primarily revolve around the fictional serial killer, John “Jigsaw” Kramer. Rather than killing his victims outright, he traps them in life-threatening situations that he calls “tests” or “games” to test their will to survive through physical or psychological torture, believing that if they survive, they will appreciate their lives.


Billy is a puppet resembling a ventriloquist’s dummy, sometimes seen riding a tricycle, that has appeared throughout the films and has become a type of mascot for the series. It is used by the Jigsaw to communicate with his victims by delivering televised messages or occasionally in person to describe details of the sadistic traps and the means by which the victims could survive.

Saw traps

An important component of each film is the variety of (usually mechanical in form) traps Jigsaw and his apprentices use on their captives to communicate his message.

All the traps are real objects, and not computer generated imagery. They were designed to look horrific but ultimately safe for the actors in them.

The true stars of the films are the diabolical traps. These lethal devices come in a variety of different styles, each with a unique set of rules. There are standard traps that lock a single victim in a murderous contraption, and group traps that involve multiple victims competing in some type of disturbing contest. Maze traps force victims to navigate a violent obstacle course, while vicarious traps require a bystander to choose who lives and who dies. Finally, there are rigged traps that promise a way to escape, but don’t actually provide one.

Knife Chair – (Saw IV) After accidentally causing Jigsaw’s wife to miscarry her baby, a drug addicted criminal finds himself strapped to a chair in the maniac’s workshop. In order to escape from the trap, he must lean forward and push a strategically located pressure plate with his forehead. Unfortunately for him, eight knives are positioned in front of his face, meaning he’ll have to slice himself to pieces in order to free himself from the shackles. Character actor Billy Otis does a wonderful job of portraying the doomed victim’s pain and terror.

The Rack – (Saw III) The victim of this trap is locked in an upright full-body crucifix-like contraption with rotating parts. Once activated, a series of gears begin to slowly turn, and the victim’s arms and legs start to twist until his bones snap. Eventually, the victim’s entire head is forced to rotate in a complete 360-degree arc until his neck breaks. It’s a ghastly device that takes its name from a real-life medieval torture instrument that literally pulled its victims in half.

Shotgun Carousel – (Saw VI) Six unlucky victims are chained to a rotating playground carousel. As the carousel turns, each victim is briefly positioned in front of a loaded shotgun. A seventh person is than forced to decide who lives and who dies. There’s a creepy carnival-like flavor to this bizarre trap. In a way, it’s like a game of Russian roulette, except the victims rotate rather than the bullets in the chamber of the gun. The fact that each victim gets a moment to confront the person who holds their life in his hands makes it even more disturbing.

Scalping Seat – (Saw IV). In this trap, a woman is chained to a mechanical chair and her long ponytail is inserted through a metal ring behind her head. As a series of gears begin to slowly turn, her hair is pulled further and further back, until her scalp is literally ripped from her skull, exposing the ghostly white bone beneath her flesh. The sound effects in this scene are enough to make you sick to your stomach.

The Brazen Bull – (Saw 3D) In this trap, a female victim is roasted alive in a giant bovine-shaped oven while her husband is forced to insert metal hooks through his pectoral muscles in a doomed attempt to save her. The device in the film is loosely based on a real-life torture instrument that dates back to ancient Greece.

Angel Trap – (Saw III). In this nightmarish trap, detective Allison Kerry (played by Dina Meyer) wakes to find herself strapped in a leather harness several feet above the ground, with a bunch of metal rods hooked into her ribcage. In order to escape from the trap, she must reach her bare hand into a vat of scalding acid and retrieve a key before it dissolves. If she doesn’t make it in time, the rods in her ribcage will spring open, tearing her apart. What makes this trap particularly sinister is that it’s fixed against her. In reality, there’s no way to escape from it. The trap takes its twisted nickname from the fact that the victim is left hovering above the floor with an open ribcage that vaguely resembles the wings of an angel.

The Razor Trap – This is one of the most deceptively simple traps in the franchise. The victim is poisoned with a deadly nerve gas that will kill her unless she injects an antidote which is housed in a small glass box hanging from the ceiling. The problem is, once she reaches her hand inside the box, she discovers – too late – that the edges of the opening are lined with razors. Instinctively reaching her second hand into another razor-lined opening, she finds herself literally caught in the box, unable to retrieve the antidote. If she had simply taken an extra moment to examine the box before shoving both of her hands inside it, she might not have met such a gruesome fate.

The Freezer – (Saw III) In this frosty trap, a woman is chained naked in the freezer of an abandoned meatpacking plant and is repeatedly sprayed with icy water that freezes on her exposed skin, turning her into a human popsicle.

The Needle Pit – Imagine falling into a pit that’s filled with thousands of dirty used syringes. With each little movement you make, another dozen needles stick into you. That’s what happens to Amanda Young who finds herself thrown into a massive hole in the ground that’s overflowing with potentially lethal hypodermic needles. And buried somewhere at the bottom of the pit is a single key that could mean the difference between life and death. Watching Smith desperately paw her way through the needles, which repeatedly jab and stab her hands and body, makes this by far the most excruciating trap in the entire series.

The pig mask

The Pig Masks used by Jigsaw and his apprentices were recurring items throughout the Saw franchise.

Jigsaw wearing a rotting pig’s head was chosen to symbolize his pessimistic view of the world and the disease that he was “rotting” from.

Box office

The franchise has grossed more than $1 billion from box office and retail sales. The film series has remained popular with audiences throughout its run and been a huge box office success, while receiving mostly mixed to negative reviews from critics. It remains one of the highest grossing horror film franshises of all time. While some critics have called the films, which have acquired a reputation for extreme graphic violence.

What’s your favorite saw movie or trap?

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