Saw is an iconic horror franchise that’s always worth a watch. It’s a crime thriller coupled with serial killers who commit gruesome murders to prove a twisted point about their morality. The victims wake up, finding themselves trapped and given a choice to torture themselves and survive or be killed brutally by some disturbing mechanism.
These morbid situations, or traps, are the Saw franchise’s most compelling and memorable element. If you don’t have the time (or the stomach) to sit down and binge all nine films to watch the victims struggle to escape each specific and creative set of confines, this article is for you.
Here are the top ten most disturbing traps from the Saw franchise, ranked from nightmarish to “every time I close my eyes, I see the horrors of that trap beneath my eyelids”- level terrifying.
10: Reverse Bear Trap (Multiple Appearances)
Arguably the most iconic trap from the franchise, the Reverse Bear Trap appears multiple times throughout the movies.
In Saw (2004), its victim is Amanda Young. She wakes up with a metal device secured to her head and soon learns that if she fails to take it off before the timer goes off, the machine will snap backward like a reverse bear trap, ripping Amanda’s face apart. She can only remove it by slicing into her cellmate’s stomach and removing the key from inside him while he’s still alive.
Amanda escapes just in time. She flings the device off one moment before it snaps open.
The reverse bear trap makes a few more appearances later in the franchise and only takes one victim’s life. This horrifying contraption deserves a spot on this list because of its infamy and the horrific concept of what it can do to the human body. It’s only number ten on the list because many people manage to pass this game.
9: Furnace Trap (Saw II)
The Majority of Saw II (2005) takes place in the Nerve Gas House, a large-scale trap with multiple people stuck inside. They each must face specific individual traps within the house to access the antidote to the nerve gas, which Jigsaw’s puppet tells the participants will kill them within two hours. If they manage to pass their games and get the antidote, a door will open shortly after the two-hour mark.
One of these individual games is the furnace trap. Obi Tate is the victim. There’s a furnace in the basement of the house, which contains two vials of the antidote. Obi hops inside and grabs them, which activates the door and causes it to close, shutting Obi inside and starting a fire. Obi can only survive by reaching through the flames to turn a valve and shut off the fire. He fails and perishes by burning alive.
8: Pig Vat Trap (Saw III)
This one is on the list because it’s unique, creative, and incredibly disgusting. It’s one of the many trials on Jeff Danlon’s larger quest to pass through the meatpacking plant rigged by Jigsaw and confront Timothy Young, the man who killed his young son.
The victim of the pig vat trap is Judge Halden, the man who presided over the court ruling that Timothy only serve a mere six months in prison. Jeff finds the Judge strapped to the bottom of a large vat, held down by his neck. When the tape plays, Jigsaw’s puppet instructs Jeff that to save the Judge and move into the next room to get closer to confronting Timothy, he must burn up all of his deceased son’s remaining belongings to find the key in the ashes.
As Jeff struggles with this choice, motors begin to whir, and decaying pig carcasses from within the plant begin to shutter forward, held up by large wires. They’re dropped into a meat blender, coming out the other end through a chute as a disgusting thick, greenish sludge that floods over the Judge’s body.
By the time Jeff retrieves the key, the Judge is almost entirely submerged by the wretched substance, with only his mouth peeking through the surface.
7: Classroom Trap (Saw III)
If your greatest fear is getting a fish hook stuck in your skin, this trap will haunt your nightmares.
The victim of the classroom trap was a drug addict named Troy, who struggled to stay out of prison due to his addiction. Jigsaw targeted him for just that reason. He instructed his apprentice Amanda to abduct Troy and bring him to a classroom, where she removes his clothes and stabs eleven large hooks through different body parts. Each hook is connected to a chain that keeps Troy in place. Before leaving, Amanda places a bomb near Troy and welds the door shut to prevent Troy from escaping.
When Troy awakes, he learns he must rip each hook out of his flesh before the timer goes off to escape the room and avoid dying in the bomb’s explosion. He gets all but one hook out before the bomb kills him. Even if he had escaped the hooks, he would have been trapped in the room because Amanda gave him no chance of escape.
6: Needle Pit (Saw II)
The needle pit is a simple yet horrific trap within the Nerve Gas House. Jigsaw set up the trap specifically for a drug dealer named Xavier. The group in the house comes across a room with a locked door and soon discovers that there is a vial of the antidote behind it.
The only way to unlock the door and get inside is with a key hidden within a pit in the floor. The problem is that the pit is also filled with thousands of used needles. Xavier refuses to take the test himself and instead throws Amanda in to retrieve the key.
It’s impossible not to wince as you watch Amanda sift through the needles, stabbing her flesh as she goes, while Xavier shouts at her to hurry from above.
5: Silence Circle (Saw 3D)
This trap was designed for Bobby Dagan, a man who pretended to survive Jigsaw’s tests and wrote a best-selling book about his journey, but was a fraud. Jigsaw took revenge by tossing him into a trap of his own.
The second trap within Bobby’s larger game was the silence circle. Bobby walks into a room and finds his publicist, Nina, confined in a straitjacket and some form of head restraint. Surrounding her head are sharp metal rods, with the pointy ends directly facing in towards Nina.
The two learn that Bobby must retrieve a key from Nina’s stomach to free her. It’s attached to a string he must pull, causing the key to rise through her stomach and tear through her esophagus. If he doesn’t free her from the trap in time, the metal rods will pierce through her neck and kill her.
On top of that, every time the decibel level goes above a whisper, the metal rods move even more quickly towards Nina’s throat to punish her for spreading Bobby’s lies to make a profit.
4: Pendulum Trap (Saw V)
This one is ruthless, considering that the victim had no hope of escaping this one at all.
Mark Hoffman, Jigsaw’s apprentice, decided to torture and kill Seth, the man who murdered his sister. Seth was originally sentenced to life in prison but got out after five years. That’s when Mark decided to take justice into his own hands in the most twisted way possible.
Seth woke up to find he was lying down shirtless, strapped to a table. A tape began to play and informed him that to escape death, he must crush his hands in a metal contraption. He’s promised that he will be freed once his hands are destroyed. If he doesn’t crush his own hands fast enough, he’ll die a brutal death. A colossal blade begins to swing back and forth like a pendulum over the center of Seth’s body, shifting lower and lower until it slices him in half.
Even though Seth completes his task and crushes his hands into a bloody, mangled mess, he is never released from the bindings. He slowly dies as the swinging blades descend on his stomach, slicing him deeper and deeper, scattering his organs across the room.
3: Razor Wire Maze (Saw)
The most straightforward traps are often the most diabolical. The victim of the razor wire maze is Paul Leahy, a man who attempted to die by suicide a month before Jigsaw abducted him. That’s exactly why Jigsaw targeted him for this trap, making it even more shiver-inducing.
Paul woke up inside a fence within a basement. At one end sits Paul, mostly naked and terrified. At the other end, Paul saw an open door. However, between him and the door to freedom lies a maze of razor wire. Paul soon learns he must make it to the door within two hours, or he’ll be locked in the basement and left to die. His only chance of survival is through the razor wire maze.
Police find Paul’s body trapped within the wire weeks later. He clearly attempted to get free but never made it to the door. Can you imagine what he must have felt as he forced his body through the sharp wires, slicing him raw, and the door swung shut with a dull thud?
2: Angel Wing Trap (Saw III)
I’ll never unsee this one, no matter how hard I try.
Detective Allison Kerry is the victim of the dreaded angel wing trap. When she wakes, she’s dangling from the ceiling, confined by a metal device attached to her rib cage. There’s a key sitting in a tub of acid directly in front of her face. The tape starts and Jigsaw’s puppet informs Kerry that to live, she must reach into the vat of acid and retrieve the key to unlock herself. If she fails to fish it out before the timer runs out or the key dissolves into nothingness, the contraption on her ribcage will open up like a set of angel wings and rip her apart.
Kerry is determined to get that key. After burning her hand and turning the clear acid red with blood, she grabs the key and unlocks herself before the timer goes off. But there’s a problem. Kerry discovers another lock holding the device in place, and her chance of survival is a hoax.
Amanda walks into the room just before the angel wings open up, spilling Kerry’s organs all over the floor.
1: Venus Fly Trap (Saw II)
The Death Mask, or the Venus fly trap, is the last trip I’d ever want to find myself in, and here’s why.
The victim, Michael Marks, realizes he’s no longer at home in bed. Instead, he’s stuck in a room with a strange device secured to his neck, and his eye is injured. To his horror, he plays the tape and realizes that the device around his neck will eventually close with a snap like a venus fly trap, sending sharp spikes through his head to kill him.
Michael’s only hope of freeing himself from this gruesome torture device is to unlock it with a key. However, he learns that Jigsaw surgically placed the key inside Michael’s eye, and the only way to get to the key is to cut his own eye open with a scalpel.
While other traps in the Saw franchise have disturbing eye-gore, this one takes the cake as the most horrifying by far. Michael is forced to physically extract something from his eye after cutting it open with a scalpel. Something so disgustingly intimate about that act makes me want to cover my eyes forever.
He only has one minute to complete this gruesome task, and he fails. I can’t imagine trying to make it through this one.
Now your brain is chock full of disturbing images of death and murder. You’re welcome! Did I miss any of your favorite traps in this list?
HELLO DOLLY!: Ranking All the Dolls in the Chucky Franchise
And hello to all you horror heads as well!
I’m still bounding with energy from that wicked Chucky Season 2 finale (recap here), I need somewhere to put it. We’ll be waiting a hot minute until Don Mancini brings out the next gem in the series. With my brain hollowed out and replaced with killer doll knowledge, why don’t we occupy ourselves with some rankings?
I’ve taken it upon myself to rank every iteration of the dolls in the Chucky series, for better or worse, on a set of highly scientific and measured criteria that make me objectively right.
This is for sure not just opinion and speculation.
And one more thing. Childs Play (2019) Chucky is not any Chucky we recognize in this house. Lars Klevberg and Orion Pictures shouldn’t have shown that to me, but they did, and I’m not going to show that to you. It’s terrible. The one and only disqualification. Disqualified.
Would-Be Chucky Army (Chucky Seasons 1 & 2)
A moment of silence for the many copy-pasted dolls that lost their life to Andy Barclay’s self-sacrificing truck crash, and the ones lost to The Colonel’s interior decorating aspirations.
Bloated Chucky (Curse of Chucky)
I wish there were more to say, but outside of the introduction of Nica, this movie and this design committed the greatest sin of all: being boring. This version of Chucky is just very puffy, like allergic reaction mid hangover kind of puffy. I know he’s supposed to be…fleshy & intimidating, I guess? But it’s just not doing it for me. That’s basically it.
Belle Doll Disguise Chucky (Chucky Season 2)
This one shouldn’t even be on the list since he only had about 10 seconds of actual screen time, but I’ll let it slide because it was a pretty hilarious reveal.
Chucky Trio (Cult of Chucky)
Don’t let their placement fool you, I love these and all the other dolls above them. But it’s cutthroat here on the listicle circuit.
It’s such a fun departure for the series to let Brad Douriff go nuts in a recording booth and do a one-man play between three separate Chuckys who are coordinating to possess his estranged daughter like it’s the weirdest soap opera ever put to film. The movie is a head trip, and just when you think it’s winding down into a predictable lull by the third act, the Chucky throuple reminds you that Don Mancini is no hack. The power of three, in combination with their distinct styles, weapons, gruesome kills, and drastic improvements on the Curse doll makes them stand out above the rest.
TIE: Buff Chucky & The Colonel (Chucky Season 2)
Chucky is at his best comedically when he’s taking himself seriously, but the script isn’t. And with the floodgates opened by the war of the dolls in Season 2 of Chucky, we got two new Chucky variants that are ridiculous, and infinitely more entertaining than they should be.
If you had told me back in Season 1 that we would get a Chucky who is doing anabolics and squatting 300 on the rack every day, I would have laughed in your face; I would have laughed harder if you told me that he would freak me out. And what can be said of The Colonel? It’s Kurtz from Apocalypse Now, and just like Kurtz, he grows creepier the longer you look at exactly where he’s standing and how he got there.
GG (Seed of Chucky, Chucky Season 2)
Oh, GG. What a sweet genderfluid monarch you are, too good for your own good. While Lachlan Watson’s performance as both halves of the spiritually entwined twins Glen and Glenda was one of the best parts of Season 2, this is a battle of the dolls.
Formerly stylized by fans as Glen/da, now going by the more neutral GG, this doll has a unique design reflecting the evolution of the nonbinary character and their identity struggle. I like that some elements of both parents got carried over to their child, and who can forget Billy Boyd’s iconic voice performance? Still, their screen time is relatively low compared to most other dolls, and we don’t see them in much action. They’re more about the talking than the killing and stalking, you know?
Grandaddy Chucky (Child’s Play)
Before you start flaming me on Twitter in front of everyone, take a moment to calm down and remember how good this movie is. This ranking can’t take that away! It’s a low spot, I know, but I still think he looks fantastic!
Honestly, he would go to the number one spot if his facial animatronics were as good as they were in any of the other films, but right now, he gets to stay where he is for 1. his icon status, and 2. his sheer durability. My god, does this doll get jacked up. Burned, shot, stabbed, exploded, decapitated, I seriously don’t think he reaches this level of superhuman (superdoll?) durability in any of the other movies. Who would have thought this was the true power of Voodoo for Dummies?
Tiffany (Bride of Chucky, Seed of Chucky, Chucky Seasons 1 & 2)
Okay, my Jennifer Tilly bias is showing here. Look, what can I say? I’m a man of simple tastes, I see a Tilly, I love a Tilly, and the design team making Tiff embody all the energy and character of her actress aesthetically makes me love this tiny plastic Tilly!
She might be David Kirschner and Kevin Yagher’s magnum opus in character design just for how strong her contrast is against the newer, grungier Scarface Chucky introduced in the same film. The Belle doll-turned-Blondie fan communicates all of Tiffany’s melodrama and loudness perfectly. It’s a bold but perfect partner in crime design, and with her perennial iconic style, we must stan.
“This Is the Best of The Movies” Chucky (Child’s Play 2)
Honestly, I find it so hard to pick between this design and 3’s. On the one hand, Child’s Play 2 Chucky is menacing and was the first truly upgraded Chucky, giving his motion and facial expressions a lot more credence in a film that is frankly better in all measures. Every doll owes its evolution to this one’s leap in advancement.
The doll and its kills outshine the original and do exactly what you want from a sequel. Getting a cue from Puppet Master’s Blade with that knife prosthetic in the factory finale and just becoming increasingly menacing over the runtime, he also shades his particular brand of evil with the barest hint of that humor and some very funny dry one-liners (“How’s it hanging Phil?”). He is a cut above most Chuckys.
Extra Chunky Salsa Death Chucky (Child’s Play 3)
But this Chucky? This Chucky was the blueprint for the silliness that would eventually become a hallmark of this series, and all the variants we would eventually see.
This was when Chucky entered his quip era and cemented himself as a goofy ass villain. His scheming and cartoony expressions in this movie make him such a lovable goober. He’s not that scary, but he is on the same level as 2 when it comes to physicality. For me, he has the goofiest and most satisfying death of any doll in the series with that face slice into industrial fan combo. This version of Chucky being so great makes up for 3 being one of the weakest entries in the series and carries the entire film on its back.
Scarface Chucky (Bride of Chucky, Seed of Chucky)
Rude f**king doll indeed. Bride of Chucky is far from a perfect film, but it has a perfect Chucky in my eyes. Does it have that late 90s edge that dates it like the rest of that movie? Yes! Does it look like Tiffany gave up on the sutures halfway through? Also, yes! Is it also the most enduring and recognizable Chucky design, not just to horror fans but pretty much everyone on earth, even when he’s been reduced to 3/4ths of a head? A million times yes!
It’s so textured and battle-damaged, which is appropriate since it keeps things fresh for the fourth entry in the series. Also, I would have paid triple the price of admission to see another movie about Andy carrying around Chucky’s decapitated, messed-up talking head.
Hackensack Chucky, AKA, Good Chucky, AKA, Prime Chucky (Chucky Season 1 & 2)
He’s the worst…but also the best.
Spanning several functionally identical plain jane bodies, this most joyously evil era of Chucky doesn’t have any aesthetic modifications like the counterparts at the #2, #7, and #9 rankings (beyond improvements in animatronics and seamless integration). But over 16 episodes, these dolls still showed you exactly how evil a plain old Chucky can be.
Though awful in Season 1, this era’s most notable lowest low is during his stint as “Good Chucky” in Season 2. The Hackensack Gang and a good chunk of the audience were duped into thinking that the kid’s attempts at brainwashing Charles Lee Ray had worked; for our naivete, we were awarded one of the most harrowing character deaths in the entire franchise.
Pouncing back on Jakes insecurities tenfold, attacking Lexy’s addictive nature, and exploiting Nadine’s goodhearted nature, killing off two fan favorites within a matter of a few episodes, I truly think this was the first time I wouldn’t say I liked a version of Chucky after everything. This is why Prime Chucky’s fate felt so much more satisfying, being rewarded for his duplicity by taking his own holly jolly chainsaw to the face, courtesy of Lexy. What a Christmas present!
AFTER DOLL IS SAID AND DONE…
Disagree with any of the rankings? We’d love to hear from you on Twitter, so hit us up there and stay tuned for more articles, more Chucky mayhem to come and more Horror Press.
Slappy Was the Blueprint: How the Dummy from Goosebumps Became A Horror Icon
The Scholastic Book Fair was a religious holiday for me growing up. It was the moment middle schoolers felt like they had real agency to make their own decisions with money, and the only time it was actually cool to want to read (the coolest of the cool kids only bought erasers and stickers to trade among each other). Entering the loud gym where the sale was housed always felt like a rush—and when it was finally your turn, you felt like royalty.
Colorful chapter books lined the metal bookshelves like a candy store, and I had five dollars in my tiny pockets to burn. There was so much to choose from in the early 2000s—A Series of Unfortunate Events was a smash hit, Bunnicula was the underground niche pick, and you could never go wrong with the creepy Animorphs series. But for me, the second I saw the oozing font and dead-eyed dummy staring back at me on the cover, I knew I had to have Night of the Living Dummy topping the massive Goosebumps display. I handed the nice cashier five dollars (who also asked, “Are you sure?” when she noticed my selection), took a sparkly bookmark on my way out, and proudly ventured home. I was on top of the world, only to be quickly dragged down once I began reading about the doll’s evil antics later that night. Slappy would haunt my nightmares for weeks—to the point where I hid the book in my basement and locked the door behind me.
One of the quintessential faces of the Goosebumps series, Slappy the Dummy first debuted in 1993 and immediately skyrocketed to fame. R. L. Stine would write nine different Goosebumps books centering the character and created an entirely separate Slappy series called Goosebumps SlappyWorld. Slappy was the main antagonist of the 2015 live-action movie starring Jack Black as well as its 2018 sequel, got made into actual ventriloquist dolls (perfect to add to your Chucky, Tiffany, and Annabelle collections), and became a Young Adult horror icon.
Like the killer dolls listed above, Slappy would come alive in a very similar way. If one mutters the phrase Karru Marri Odonna Loma Molonu Karrano, which translates to you and I are one now, it’s all over. Slappy will then do everything in his power to make you his servant, framing you for his crimes and pushing you away from the people you love and care about. Sound familiar?
But Stine’s influences for the undead dummy are somewhat surprising. You’d think the main one was Chucky, arguably the most famous killer doll first appearing in 1988, but Stine hasn’t cited the little menace.
The main inspirations for Slappy were the 1883 classic book The Adventures of Pinocchio and the 1978 psychological horror film Magic starring Anthony Hopkins. (In the Goosebumps TV series, Slappy would even don a voice that sounds the same as Fats, the dummy from Magic originally voiced by Hopkins. And as a Buffy the Vampire Slayer mega-fan, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Sid, the cursed puppet who looks eerily similar to Slappy, from season one.) There’s a callback to Chucky’s famous “Wanny play?” catchphrase in the Goosebumps TV show, which feels more like an easter egg than an influence. Regardless of where the idea for Slappy came from, Stine successfully created a horror figure for kids that would allow them to explore further into the horror genre—I would know, I was one of them. If it weren’t for Slappy or the Goosebumps franchise, would I have been comfortable seeking out more mature, intense horror flicks to discover Ghostface, Michael, or Freddy? Probably not—we all had to start somewhere.
We don’t all decide to turn on the TV and begin with Puppet Master, Child’s Play, or Dead Silence. Some of us start small and end up locking our books in the cold, dusty basement out of extreme fear (and throw their American Girl doll down there for good measure. Their eyes literally open and close). We build resilience like we do anything else—muscle, relationships, knowledge. And sometimes it takes a well-dressed dapper dummy to illustrate that.
The next book fair came around, and I ignored the Goosebumps table during my initial walkthrough. My eyes kept darting to the green and purple setup, too curious to look away. Was Slappy’s second book there? Did I actually want to know what was going to happen to him next?
I reluctantly walked over and picked up Night of the Living Dummy II. The cover was somehow scarier than the first, deceivingly pink with Slappy’s same dead eyes. I smiled, handed the same nice cashier my five-dollar bill feeling overly victorious, and rushed home to do my math homework so I could hide under the covers and finish Slappy’s latest adventure all in one night.