History and Making of the 1st Saw Movie

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Featured Scary Movies and Series

How Did the Saw Creators Feel About the Movie?

The original Saw movie is a horror genre masterpiece…a landmark film in all things horror.  In fact, Saw (2004) altered the course of horror movie history by using innovation to revamp the sub-genre of torture and traps.  Screenwriter and Leigh Whannell and director James Wan may have succeeded in turning a low budget film into a box office hit, but they started out as friends who met at film school. The two started out learning how to make films together and showcasing their small pieces in the same classrooms.  So what did James and Leigh think about how large and behemoth the Saw franchise has gotten? When they reflect, how do they feel about the terror they have spawned?

Horror Enthusiast has dug through a number of interviews to determine the original creators consensus on the Saw franchise.

The Inspiration for Working on a Project Together

After James showed a short film in a movie class, “Zombie Apocalypse,” Leigh approached him about his shared interest in horror movies, and they became friends.  Leigh took note that the rest of the school felt they were “above” or “better than” the horror genre, which probably strengthened their bond.  A few years down the road, post-film school graduation and living in poverty, they decided to build a movie for $5,000 that would be shot inside a single room with only 2 people.  James explained that it was difficult to work jobs they did not enjoy to get by, but that they waited for years before finally coming up with the right idea they could film in their own home or backyard. 

The movie Saw was more than 2 guys in a room trying to figure out how they got there and how to get out.  The movie was about following in the footsteps of self-made directors and success stories, people like ‘Kevin Smith  and Robert Rodriguez, two of their heroes.  James explained that they had several ideas over the years, both of them, but that they were very hard on one another and constantly rejected each idea. They even almost made a movie about nightmares, as well as about astral projection.

Paving the Path

Saw horror movie character drawing

After they finally came up with the idea, there was a lot to come up with to get their dream into motion.  They already determined the movie would focus around the story of two guys in a room with a dead body, a gun and a tape recorder; and they already determined the twist which is the end of the movie and the saw traps would be critical. The parts that were missing were the guts of the movie…the stuff that happened in between.  Leigh took over this part, and wrote a killer script.  James worried heavily about producers belief in him as a director, so he insisted they shoot a short scene on their own money, which James admits is mostly Leigh’s money at the time. And then the two of them wind up impressing everyone with their shoestring budget clip that is the birth of “Saw.”

What the Creators Wanted From Saw

The objective of Saw was not to create or otherwise contribute to a “torture porn” genre of horror. The goal when James and Leigh set out to write Saw, to get funded, and to direct and produce Saw, was not to create critics (although all movies do). The original creators of Saw wanted to prove themselves. They wanted to make a big movie, but realized after getting out of film school that money is required to make a big movie. So they found a way to prove themselves anyway.  To show that they could direct, that they could write, that they could even act if necessary, and that they could make a film that was great even with their own money. They wanted to make a big Hollywood movie.

The creators look back and consider Saw a “rough around the edges” project, something that was shot in too little time and without enough scenes. They look back and compare it to other horror movie franchises that are loved by fans around the world, franchises like A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th. They look back and realize how life changing it has been for them, but also how life changing it has been for others who enjoy the franchise.  The Saw franchise has an entire cult of fans who love every movie…and it all began with the first…two guys in a room. 

True Saw Fans

Saw (2004) is one of the most original and truly scary horror scenarios in any horror movie. In fact, it deserves an award for creating an original and terrifying situation and story line.  The directing is on point and the acting is awesome! Considering the budget these guys were working on and the fact the entire movie was shot in just 18 days, it is amazing that it was able to become a blockbuster hit and instant masterpiece!  This movie was a wildly successful film both at the box office and in generating a huge cult fan-base who have continued to enjoy the franchise for more than a decade!

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How Much Did Tobin Bell Get Paid For Saw?

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Scary Movies and Series

How Much Money Did Tobin Bell Make For Each Saw Movie?

The infamous laugh of Jigsaw was not Tobin Bell’s only contribution to the Saw movies.  Saw would never be what it is today if it weren’t for the iconic voice and judgmental nature of Tobin’s John Kramer. His mere presence on-screen today is chilling and creates a curious, yet still scary tone. This meticulous actor has a movement about his physical nature that fits the Jigsaw killer’s character. The way Tobin speaks, his delays, and his piercing eyes make him one of the most interesting and entertaining horror movie slashers of all time.  But what did they actually pay Tobin Bell for his role in the Saw films?

Tobin Bell’s Saw Movie Salaries

Tobin Bell’s performance as Jigsaw, the horror movie killer in the Saw franchise, is absolutely jaw-dropping (pun intended).  He has received great reward for his fantastic performances, evident by the suspected salaries he has raked in!

The first movie was extremely low budget. The role of the Jigsaw killer required 14 days of laying on the floor. It was cold, dirty, grungy, and difficult, but Tobin insisted on doing it himself without a double or fake body to substitute for him. While it is speculated he did not make that much, monetarily, from this film…he is most definitely profiting in the form of a full blown successful career as Jigsaw.

In Saw II (2005), the production budget was five times larger than the first movie, at $5,000,000 and it made far more than the first movie.  The second film in the franchise probably meant much more for Tobin. Maybe even earning a percentage rather than a flat rate.

Saw III’s budget also went up, doubling the previous movie’s budget and probably dishing out more percentage earnings Tobin than the previous movie.  While it did not perform as well as the second movie, it still greatly outdid the original again and likely earned Tobin a huge reward.

The fourth Saw movie is where the franchise’s earnings begin to decline.  Despite the budgets still all being around $10,000,00 (with an exception of a $17 million budget for Saw 3D in 2010), all of the rest of the movies in the franchise did pretty poorly at the box office when compared to the first few films.  Still, Tobin was probably one of their greatest expenses (if not the greatest expense).  Whether these remaining films earned the producers as much as they would have liked or not, they probably earned Tobin an absolute ton!

All this and also being the smartest horror movie slasher of all time? Not so bad, Tobin!

What Did the Actors Make in the Saw Movies?

Tobin Bell may have earned the most out of any of the actors in the Saw franchise, however, he was not the only cast member to bank! Some of the other top paid Saw actors and actresses may have included the following cast members.

Donnie Wahlberg

One of the Wahlberg brothers likely made a killer in Saw II (2005).  He was one of the primary stars and brought a well-known, already famous face to the Saw sequel.  He also starred in one the best performing movies of them all (Saw II made the most in the United States of all the films, while it made second most worldwide, next to the third movie).  He even returns for some fun in the third film!

Shawnee Smith

saw movie

Smith started out in the original Saw movie alongside Tobin Bell…however, she made a centerstage appearance with a lead role in the second, third and sixth movies.  She also reprised her role via archived footage in the fourth movie.  Her heavy involvement and familiar face throughout the Saw movies gives credence to her being one of the top benefactors of the Saw films.

Costas Mandylor

Playing the role of Mark Hoffman in Saw IV (2007), Costas may not have made so much. However, it is speculated that he made a pretty penny being able to reprise this role in the subsequent Saw V (2008), Saw VI (2009) and Saw 3D: The Final Chapter (2010) movies.

Scott Patterson

Patterson played Agent Peter Strahm in the Saw movies, starting in Saw IV (2007). He then reprised his role in Saw V (2008), probably making a ton!

Betsy Russell

Like her costar Costas Mandylor and Scott Patterson, Betsy started out in Saw IV (2007) and played the role of Jill Tuck.  She then returned for Saw V (2008), Saw VI (2009), and Saw 3D (2010), more than likely earning a lot more for the later films.

Cary Elwes

Cary as Dr. Gordon

Cary Elwes played Dr Gordon in the first Saw movie.  Dr Gordon then returned for Saw 3D: The Final Chapter to be explained as an accomplice to Jigsaw.  Elwes most likely got paid A LOT more for this role reprisal.

Saw Salaries: Final Notes

Saw (2004) was a box office hit and launched many careers.  However, Saw did not start out the high-paying household name in horror that it is today, and it started out extremely low budget. Still, it was pivotal for director James Wan (his first feature film as a director), and also for Tobin Bell, Jigsaw himself.  Tobin Bell was an awesome Jigsaw killer and without his involvement in the Saw movies, it is questionable as to how much the franchise could have grown!

Check out some surprising facts about the Saw movies and learn some more about how Saw was made!

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How to Survive a Saw Movie

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Scary Movies and Series

Is It Possible to Survive a Saw Movie?

Jigsaw is a very crafty, extremely intelligent horror slasher. While he believes his intentions are just and for the greater good, he is ultimately responsible for many victims. The fact of the matter is: most victims do not survive Jigsaw and his Saw movie traps.  Many Saw fans wonder, however, how would one survive a Jigsaw torture trap or Saw movie? Is surviving a Saw movie even possible?

Horror Enthusiast has plunged into the Saw franchise in an attempt to identify and classify the greatest threats in a Saw film.

Threats Found in a Saw Movie

Although there are a multitude of unique and creative threats throughout the Saw movies, some of the greatest threats can be easily identified and outlined.  A horror fan can use this guide to survive a Saw movie or Jigsaw trap house!

The Traps

The most obvious threats in a Jigsaw house or Saw movie are the traps.  Jigsaw is a highly skilled mechanical engineer who is able to create the most intimidating (and deadly) traps of all time.  Jigsaw uses all types of mechanisms and gadgets to force his victims to take action or lose their lives.  Jigsaw is famous for “giving his victims a chance to live,” even calling it “a game;” However, most of his victims will tell you (the very few who have survived) that it is not a game and it is not very fun.  The traps are oftentimes custom-made to match the victim and their atrocities.

In order to survive a Jigsaw trap or a trap from a Saw movie, you have to be willing to shed some blood and possibly lose a limb or other important part of your body (an eye, fingers, your stomach, etc).

Bleeding Out

Even if a Jigsaw victim makes it out of a trap, they are still frequently left in no condition to retrieve help…and violently bleeding out.  Sometimes, they die trying to get help after literally cutting off a limb. Other times they sever parts of their body to beat a Jigsaw game only to still fail and bleed out.  Because most of the traps involve sharp metal or torture devices meant to inflict pain, people typically bleed a lot and thus bleeding out becomes a grave concern when trying to survive a Saw movie.

To ensure you do not lose too much blood after getting out of a Saw trap, be sure to issue first aid…cauterize when necessary and possible.

Psychological Madness

A lot of people panic almost right away when waking up into a Saw trap.  This panic is a ‘fight or flight’ response and releases a lot of adrenaline.  The adrenaline can be useful in survival, but ultimately may cloud the victim’s judgment and thinking process. There is also some serious psychological torment in explaining to someone that they must torture themselves.  Unfortunately, many of Jigsaw’s traps require a steady hand and clear head to successfully accomplish.

Beating a Jigsaw trap requires patience and smooth thinking in what limited time remains, therefore, maintaining your sanity is important in surviving a Saw movie.

The Location

Not every Saw game is created equally.  Some games are set in a single, tiny room…while other times elaborate trap houses are setup by Jigsaw. While the actual size of the location makes a huge difference, it is important to remember that other factors may be at play as well.  Seeing as the victims cannot usually escape unless they beat the game, they are often met with many reasons to WANT to leave. In Saw II, for example, the house is filled with poisonous gas.

Surviving a Saw movie means being aware of your environment and remembering that typically nothing is what it seems!

The Timing

Some games are more time-sensitive than others.  There are smaller, faster-paced games that give the victim only a few moments to live after waking up from their abduction and playing a tape.  And then there are longer games that can keep a group of 5 or 6 people active for the entire duration of a movie.  Depending upon the time given for survival, a victim may be more or less likely to consider all of their options for a Jigsaw game victory.

In order to survive a Jigsaw trap, it is important to identify how much time you have been given, and the best way to spend the time you have left!

Other Game Players

A lot of the “games” Jigsaw plays involve more than one player. It is often times quite hypocritical…as on the one hand he is trying to “give the players a chance to live” but on the other hand, they are forced to compete with one another (assuring a loser dies).  Since the players are often in a competition-style environment, they are almost always a threat to one another, whether immediately, eventually, directly, indirectly, or discreetly. Sometimes (like in Saw II for example), the players kill each other.

Having social skills and always watching your back is a priority when stuck in a Jigsaw Trap House or Saw movie!

Tetanus

jigsaw movie how to get out alive painting of a man facing a spinning saw

Although most people these days have their Tetanus shot, a Jigsaw house would be a NIGHTMARE for anyone who has not been vaccinated. So much metal, especially salvaged junk are used in Jigsaw’s traps.  Additionally, the places he chooses to manifest his crimes are typically less than sanitary environments.

Make sure you always have your Tetanus shot prior to being abducted by Jigsaw or participating in a Saw movie!

Final Notes: Getting Out of a Saw Movie Alive

Remembering to identify the threats is key in surviving a Saw movie.  Depending upon the type of trap, the location, the other players involved and several other facts…a player may be able to overcome a trap and ultimately survive. Still, Jigsaw is one of the deadliest horror movie killers and the traps are oftentimes custom designed for the victims. Entering a trap house designed by Jigsaw does not provide very good probability of survival for anyone. 

Most people who wind up in a Jigsaw trap will not make it out.

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How Were the Saw Traps Invented?

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Scary Movies and Series

The Making of the Saw Movie Traps

The Saw movies are some of the scariest horror films to ever screen.  This is probably because a lot of the torture and traps found in the Saw movies could be replicated in real life and rely on no special powers. Saw bred a new type of horror killer, one that was smart, mechanically inclined and strategic.  Jigsaw is so good at being a horror slasher that he has even overcome his own death to continue killing from beyond the grave.

So how were the Saw prop-traps made? How did the crew and engineers put together these terrifying contraptions that Saw fans enjoy in all of the films?  Horror Enthusiast has paused every scene to inspect every bolt and every spring to find the origin of the Saw trap designs.

How The Saw Traps Were Made

Although each movie features different cast and crew, a lot of the ideas behind creating torture devices that inflict “unimaginable pain” on human beings seem to spread from movie to movie fairly easily. Here are some of the things that are known about the creation of the traps in the Saw movies.

Must Force Victims Into Action

The Saw traps have one hugely common theme: they force a victim into action which poses imminent danger for their life. Most of the traps bring the victims very close to death, if not actually killing them. Because of the risk, the victims must be forced to act. 

Capable of Death

Just about every trap risks the victim’s life completely. There is no chance of survival if the victim fails to beat the game.  Many of the traps deploy an unsustainable injury in the event the victim loses.

The Game Must Be Beatable

Any AUTHENTIC Jigsaw trap is supposed to be able to be won by the victim. This is to provide motivation for the victim to want to fight for their life.

Timed Traps

Many of the traps are timed, so that there is a reason to act with urgency.  This ensures a victim cannot simply “ignore the situation” or “wait it out,” but that the situation requires their attention.

An Instruction Manual

Jigsaw never leaves his victims in the dark, in the sense that they do not know what is going on. Each victim is informed, nearly right away, that they are there because of actions they have taken (or failed to take) in their life.  They are informed (usually by audio or video tape) that they have a chance to survive if they survive playing a game. Each trap is briefly explained with an idea of how to beat it. Only the determined shall survive!

Super Scary Looking

While Jigsaw may inform the victims of their imminent doom, nearly every Jigsaw trap is self-explanatory. The terrifying metal, teeth, blades, razors and needles used in the Saw movies are meant to strike fear in the heart but also show the audience exactly what is at risk.

Real Mechanical Designs

With the exception of SOME of the traps in the newer films, almost all of the traps are real, mechanical designs. That means, no CGI. An authentic Jigsaw trap should be made of metal, not pixels.

The Traps Must Be Safe

knife chair trap from the saw movies

The crew ensured that although the traps may have looked incredibly dangerous…they were in fact, very much safe for the actors themselves.

Final Engineering Notes: Saw Movie Traps

Jigsaw may have had a team of engineers and special effects people to help him make his traps in the movie, but the truth is, there is no limit to the creativeness in human innovation.  If more Saw movies were made, more traps would be devised and boundaries, pushed. The traps featured in the Saw movies thus far have been gruesome and claimed many victims. While they claim Jigsaw (2017) was the last of the franchise, there always seems to be “another final chapter” and another house of traps, right around the corner!

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