The first Saw movie is a remarkable piece of horror cinema. Shot in 18 days on a budget of only $700k, Saw was the 2004 horror hit that spawned one of the most successful horror franchises of all time.
Even if you're a big fan, you may not know all of these fascinating facts about the bloodiest, most twisted little indie horror that could... are you ready to play a game?
1. The Final Girl
Amanda—Shawnee Smith, cast by James Wan on a whim because he'd had a crush on her as a teenager—was horribly sick during her scenes for the first Saw movie. Fortunately, her entire part was shot in one day. Still, stabbing a man's guts out with a 104-degree fever was probably fairly unpleasant. The man in question was producer Oren Koules and the 'guts'; a fresh pig uterus bought from a Chinese grocer!
2. Jigsaw's New Look
Directors Wan & Whannell planned for John Kramer's cloak to be red on the outside, but thought it would look better in black. They simply turned the cloak inside-out, meaning the seams of the garment are clearly visible in some scenes.
3. Aw, Crap!
The revolting fecal matter in the toilet scene was made from half-melted chocolate so it was, in fact, edible. And did you notice that Adam uses the same hand to smoke with as the one he uses to search the toilet bowl? I guess hygiene standards are the last thing on your mind when you're contemplating sawing your own foot off...
4. He Ain't No Dummy
With a budget of only $700,000, there wasn't much spare cash for convincing fake bodies. The burned body of Mark—the dude in the candle & codes trap—was the only dummy used. All of the other corpses—including the man hung on the razor wire—were real actors playing dead.
5. That's Just, Like, Your Opinion, Man
Saw was originally a short film, which impressed studios so much that it secured the directors the budget to make the full-length version we saw in cinemas. However, Wan and Whannell never set out to make a super violent horror movie. Wan said:
I felt people ended up concentrating on certain things that were not necessarily, for us, what the film was about, like the blood and guts of the trap. I keep reminding people that the reason why I think the first film works so well was because it was fresh, it was unique, and it had a really cool twist ending that made people say, ‘My God, did you see that?'”
You set out to make a thriller and accidentally spawned an insanely profitable horror empire? Nice one, guys!
6. Billy Boy
The Saw puppet—uncredited by name but referred to in the script as 'Billy'—was not bought from a shop. The directors made him from scratch, and loved him so much they put him in three of their other movies too; Death Sentence, Insidious and Dead Silence.
Whannell commented on bringing Billy into America:
"So I had to bring this thing [Billy the Puppet] over from Australia in my suitcase, and I’ve never wanted to have customs search my suitcase more in my life.”
7. Bathroom Blues
Remember the first scene of Saw? Adam (played by director Leigh Whannell) wakes up in a bath, underwater. They couldn't afford stunt men so Whannell just submerged himself... by getting a crew member to stand on his chest!
The iconic bathroom scene engendered a funny series of events: Scary Movie 4 created a grotty bathroom set for their Saw parody... and the Saw team borrowed Scary Movie's bathroom to film Saw III!
8. We Don't Need No Medication
The medical terminology used in the Saw movies is accurate. Whannell consulted with real-life surgeons at UCLA Medical Center to make sure that everything worked out scientifically.
After the success of Saw, the directors wanted to avoid making Saw II an NC-17. The man they called in to help edit Saw II down to an R was Rob Zombie, whose work on the final cut is uncredited.
10. Give Evil a Helping Hand
He was so deeply involved in the Saw movies that Tobin Bell actually helped invent some of the traps by the later sequels. Let's hope he doesn't get too deeply into the character in real-life!