"I wanna play a game."
Before the fall of 2004, that phrase meant little to the world of horror. Now, it's an ominous prelude to what usually ends up being a very messy death scene. The deadly and truly innovative traps of the "Saw" series are now the stuff of horror movie legend, and we'll be sad to see the game come to an end with this year's final installment, "Saw 3D."
In preparation for the final chapter (...or is it?), let's remember and reflect on the best traps of the "Saw" movies.
9. The Razor Box ("Saw II")
The Nerve Gas House setting of "Saw II" is a wondrous house of horrors, as a group of strangers who were all once upon a time arrested by Detective Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg yeah!!) must traverse the booby-trapped rooms. Addison Corday (Emmanuelle Vaugier) gets the worst of it after sticking her hands into a box to retrieve a syringe containing the antidote to the gas that's slowly poisoning everyone. As it's called "the Razor Box," you can probably guess what happens. Ugh. And that trap wasn't even meant for her!
8. Death by Candlelight ("Saw")
As we learn later in "Saw VI," Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) has issues when it comes to health insurance, so it's no wonder he went after Mark (Paul Gutrecht), a software analyst that pretended he was suffering from injuries and reaped the benefits (heh heh). Mark wakes up barefoot in a darkened room where the floor is covered with shards of glass. He's informed that he's been poisoned and the antidote is in the safe at the other end of the room, the combination of which is written on the wall. He's even given a candle to read by. Not too bad, right? Except that his body has been covered in napalm, so reading by open flame could be something of a challenge. Hot.
7. The Shotgun Carousel ("Saw VI")
The final "test" of William Easton (Peter Outerbridge) involves him finding six of his health insurance staff chained to a carousel with a shotgun pointed at each person. William can only save two of the six as he pushes buttons on a device that drives spikes into his hand as it moves the aim of the shotguns steadily upward. Who would you choose to save, and at what rather painful cost to yourself? This one raised the "Saw" traps to truly nightmarish extremes -- and to an even more theatrical level with that whole carousel thing.
6. The Butterfly Ribcage Device ("Saw III")
Poor Kerry (Dina Meyer) learned that being a detective on the Jigsaw case can be hazardous to your health (and chest), as she wakes up hanging from the ceiling and wearing a device that's set to tear open her ribcage -- unless, of course, she can get the key to the lock out of a jar of boiling acid. We liked Kerry, but by "Saw III," Kerry probably had to go, and her death is definitely one of the... well, messier kills of the "Saw" movies.
5. The Shotgun Collar ("Saw III")
Dr. Lynn Denlon (Bahar Soomekh) is going to keep Jigsaw alive throughout the duration of Jeff's (Angus Macfadyen) game, no matter what it takes. At least, she better. Because if she doesn't, the collar around her neck is going to fire five shotgun shells into her head, bringing new definition to the term "point blank range." It's excruciating watching Lynn struggle to keep the dying Jigsaw alive, performing various operations under such unfathomable stress and fear. And you know the producers aren't going to come up with such a trap and not have it pay off. Head go boom. Horrible!
4. The Water Cube ("Saw V")
"Saw V" might be the weakest installment in the series, but it does feature the Water Cube, a great trap and an even greater escape. As everyone and anyone is pretty much terrified of drowning, it truly hits the nerve center when Agent Strahm (Scott Patterson) has his head trapped in a box that slowly starts filling with water. Automatic panic! However, Strahm, wily and resorceful fella that he is, proceeds to take out a pen and give himself a tracheotomy in order to keep from drowning. Would you be able to do the same? Hopefully we'll never be in a situation where we'd find out the answer to that question.
3. A Pound of Flesh ("Saw VI")
The opening scene of "Saw VI" is definitely one of the most gruesome of the series (and even moreso on the unrated DVD edition). Simone (Tanedra Howard) and Eddie (Marty Moreau), two bankers who had taken "a pound of flesh" from loan recipients whom they knew could never pay them back, are placed in adjoining cells and... well, you see where this is going, right? Watching these two hack away at their own bodies with a knife and meat cleaver and plop bloody pieces of themselves onto a scale (whoever gives the most "flesh" will survive) is quite the endurance test, even for the most hardcore "Saw" fan.
2. The Knife Chair ("Saw IV")
First of all, "Saw IV" is great, and don't let anyone tell you differently. If for no other reason, how can you not love a movie that has an X Japan song playing over the closing credits? "Saw IV" shows us what inspired John Kramer to reinvent himself as Jigsaw, and the Knife Chair was actually John's first trap, forcing the victim to push his face through knives in order to release his restraints. The trap is simple, awful and, most of all, a bit heartbreaking, as it represents John Kramer reaching the point of no return and transforming completely into the twisted Jigsaw.
1. The Reverse Bear Trap ("Saw")
The greatest "Saw" trap from the first installment -- and, to date, the whole series -- was the headgear on Amanda (Shawnee Smith), a crude, medieval-looking piece of awfulness designed to tear her jaw open (hence, the "reverse bear trap" label -- yeesh!). Of course, Amanda survived this experience that allegedly "opened her eyes" (if not her mouth) and inspired her to become Jigsaw's protégé. But when the student later thinks she can one-up the instructor, well... she might need another eye-opener. But we digress. Anyway, Reverse Bear Trap = Awesome.