Saw is perhaps one of the most groundbreaking films of the modern horror genre. Released in 2004, this original release sparked a seven-film franchise and served as the directorial debut for horror master James Wan. The franchise kicked off as a low-budget idea similar to The Blair Witch Project and skyrocketed to become one of the highest-grossing horror franchises in film history.
The Saw franchise has been dormant for six years now, but it does retain a solid fanbase and continues to be a modern horror staple. With this article, we'll look at 10 little-known facts about the first Saw film and re-examine what it was that made it so menacing and unique. Some you might have known or had a clue about, but most aren't too widely known about the starter for this mega franchise. That is, if you feel like playing a little game.
10. Pig intestines were used to substitute human intestines
During Amanda's test (the reverse bear trap), the director's cut of the film shows her actually sifting through the intestines of the man in the room for the key. Those intestines were actually pig intestines covered in fake blood.
9. Leigh Whannell filled in other roles for minor re-shoots
Speaking of pig intestines, those weren't Shawnee Smith's hands feeling through them. Co-creator Leigh Whannell starred as Adam in the film, but he filled in for multiple roles during re-shoots and filler scenes. He appears as Amanda's hands during the reverse bear trap and as Detective Sing when he's entering the warehouse to find the Jigsaw Killer. You can even see Whannell's face as the detective as he enters the warehouse — oops!
8. The first film was the only one not filmed in Canada
James Wan had a very limited budget for this film, so it was essential to find an inexpensive, local spot to make this movie. He found the answer with the Los Angeles sound stage, Lacy Street Production Studio. As the franchise blew up in popularity, the budgets increased and productions all moved to Toronto, Ontario in Canada.
7. Danny Glover and Shawnee Smith completed their scenes in one day
In addition to only having one day, Shawnee Smith completed her scenes with a bad case of the flu. Producer Mark Burg was impressed by her ability to whip her body around with the head device on while suffering from a fever of 104.
6. James Wan created the Billy puppet
The Billy puppet we've all grown to recognize wasn't an afterthought or creation of the studio. Director James Wan created the puppet on his own years before the film debuted.
5. It was filmed in just 18 days
Yes, this very low-budget film only took 18 days and ran on a measly $700,000 budget.
4. The evolution of the franchise wasn't the original concept
The severe levels of gore and intensity of the traps increased as the franchise went on without James Wan (and eventually without Leigh Whannell), but that wasn't their original vision. For Wan and Whannell, the film wasn't about the gore or the blood and guts. It was about the story and being able to shock audiences with a great twist ending.
3. Jigsaw was inspired by Leigh Whannell's migraines
While working in Australia, Leigh Whannell began experiencing severe migraine headaches. Convinced he had a brain tumor, he went to the doctor for an MRI and shortly after, started thinking about what he would do if he had a limited amount of time left to live. This idea eventually turned into the concept for Saw by showing what John Kramer did after finding out he had terminal cancer.
2. There were no rehearsals with the actors
In addition to a small budget and only having 18 days to film, they took it one step further and didn't set up any rehearsals with the actors. The production of Saw was pretty much everyone showing up on set and just going for it on the day of filming.
1. It all started with a 9-minute short film
James Wan and Leigh Whannell wrote this story back in 2001 and created a short film around the story to shop around studios in Hollywood in 2003. The short film starred Whannell as the character who eventually became Amanda and gave us the first glance at the reverse bear trap. The concept was picked up by Evolution Entertainment, who later produced the franchise under its Twisted Pictures division.