Billy the Puppet (Saw)

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Billy The Kid
Saw character
TheSawpuppet.jpg
Promotional image of Billy on his signature tricycle
First appearance "Saw" (short)
Last appearance Saw 3D
(in film series)
Insidious
(cameo)
Created by James Wan
Voiced by Tobin Bell
Information
Nickname(s) Billy the Puppet
Gender Puppet
(male likeness)
Relationships
M.O. Delivering messages to subjects of Jigsaw via television screen or in person.
Status Destroyed
(blown up by Hoffman)

Billy is a puppet that has appeared in the Saw franchise. It was used by John Kramer (a.k.a. Jigsaw) to communicate with his test subjects by delivering recorded messages, often appearing on a television screen or occasionally in person to describe the details of the sadistic traps and the means by which the test subjects could survive. Viewers have sometimes incorrectly identified the puppet itself as Jigsaw, because of its presence and connection to the killer.

Although it has never actually been identified in the films, "Billy" is the name by which it is referred to by writers, directors and members of the cast and crew on documentaries and interviews. The name was given to it by its real-life creator James Wan, who is the director and co-writer of Saw. There is disagreement that the name is spelled "Billie", although Wan himself spells it "Billy".[1]

The endurance and popularity of the Saw franchise has resulted in the production of Billy merchandise, as well as references in other media. Billy has become a type of mascot for the Saw series.

Leigh Whannell stated at the world premiere of Dead Silence that he was going to put Billy in every movie he made from now on, but its presence might not be obvious.

Characteristics[edit]

Billy appears to be a male ventriloquist's dummy, as its jaw is movable in order to give the suggestion that it is talking; however, it is not used in the same manner, as the entire doll is frequently seen moving on its own. Its face is white, with a protruding brow and cheeks that have red spirals painted on them. His red lips form a grin. His eyes are black with red irises, and his head is topped with black, messy hair.

Billy is always depicted wearing a black tuxedo, with a white shirt and gloves, red bow tie, and red handkerchief in the breast pocket. He also has red Mary-Janes for shoes. In the short film, he is seen wearing a green bowler hat. He is often riding an old-fashioned red tricycle. The only sound originating directly from him is a generic electronic cackle much like one would find in a Halloween-type toy.

It was revealed in Saw IV that Billy's design was taken from a smaller, slightly different version that John had shown to his then-wife, Jill Tuck.

Construction[edit]

According to Wan, the construction of the original puppet's face for Saw involved clay, papier-mâché, and black ping-pong balls with the irises painted in for the eyes. Paper towel rolls were used internally.[2] To make him move, the puppeteers pulled him along on a fishing line.

For Saw II, Billy was redesigned with mechanical features that could be manipulated by a remote control, including his unhinged jaw and his eyes.[3]

For Saw III, the prop crew was given the original puppet, but found it unfit for work, as time had damaged it. Instead, they recreated Billy, using waterjet-cut foam for his body instead of fiberglass, equipped with plates to hold the puppet together and magnets to attach him to his tricycle. The back of his head was removable, to make it easier to slide animatronic pieces in.[4]

For Saw IV, the prop crew again made the body of waterjet-cut foam, held together by metal rods. They used strong magnets to make a flat rear for the puppet, so it could be easily positioned on any metal surface. The resin-filled ping-pong ball eyes were moved with a remote control, as was the mouth.

Appearances in film[edit]

Saw[edit]

In the first Saw movie, Billy is seen on a television set by Amanda Young, telling her about the reverse bear trap that was hooked into her jaws. Once Jigsaw explains where she must find the key to unlock the trap, Billy is seen again, congratulating Amanda on her success, wheeling into the room on his tricycle to deliver the message of her freedom. He told her to find the key in her dead cellmate body that was sleeping with knife.

Later, Adam remembers seeing the puppet in his apartment when the lights went out. While searching through the dark rooms using his camera flash, the puppet's eerie laugh rings through the apartment, and Adam hits it with his bat until it stops.

When detectives Tapp and Sing uncover Jigsaw's latest hideout, they snoop around his desk, pulling off many blankets to reveal the different contraptions of the mastermind. The two detectives are shocked when they find Billy staring back at them from under one of the blankets.

Saw II[edit]

In Saw II, Billy is seen on the screen at the beginning of the film, giving Michael hints about the death mask he is wearing. It plays out similarly to Amanda's test, except Michael dies.

Later, when the detectives discover Jigsaw's new hideout, several officers walk up a caged staircase, and are greeted by Billy, who wheels into sight at the top of the stairs on his tricycle and laughs. The cage then becomes electrified after one officer steps on a rigged stair that breaks his legs.

Saw III[edit]

In the third installment, Jigsaw is seen constructing Billy in a flashback for the purpose of Amanda's game, painting the puppet's face. Later, Billy appears on videotape to inform both Troy and Kerry of their respective traps. The puppet is also seen in the background of a flashback that features Jigsaw and Amanda discussing her loyalty.

He is also used to remind Jeff Denlon of his dead son at one point, by being laid down next to his bike in the same position Jeff's son was in when he was killed. The puppet gives a mocking laugh until Jeff beats it into silence.

After Jeff cuts Jigsaw's throat, a reflection of Billy can be seen on Jigsaw's heart rate monitor for a split second.

Saw IV[edit]

Billy is first seen in Saw IV when Rigg awakes after being attacked in his apartment and rendered unconscious. Rigg opens his bathroom door, pulling a trigger-wire from a TV set. Billy appears on the screen to explain Rigg's game. Upon leaving the room, Rigg is greeted by another message concerning his first test, referring to a woman Jigsaw deemed to be a criminal that had been placed in a machine that would scalp her.

Agents Strahm and Perez later find Billy in a room in a school, sitting on a chair surrounded by candles. From a microcassette recorder hung around the puppet's neck, Perez learns that her partner will soon take the life of an innocent man (who is later revealed to be Jeff) and that her next move is critical. Billy's eyes begin turning to Perez while a low voice on the tape murmurs, "Open the door." Perez leans in to hear this last, at which point Billy's face explodes, blowing shrapnel into her face and neck. Perez collapses into Strahm's arms as Billy begins to laugh.

There is also a flashback of Jigsaw giving a less menacing, early version of Billy to Jill as a gift for their unborn son Gideon. An interview with Tobin Bell revealed that this was the beginning of a storyline concerning the origins of Billy, as well as his tricycle, to be explored in future Saw films.[5]

Saw V[edit]

Billy appeared in the opening sequence of Saw V, to tell Seth of his game, which is later revealed to have been set up by Hoffman to frame Jigsaw and kill Seth. It is unknown how Hoffman created the tape for this game. According to a list of potential Jigsaw victims, Seth was the third person tested after Cecil and Mark. In those tests, Jigsaw didn't use a puppet.

Billy is also seen at the beginning of all of the team's traps.

The early version of Billy from a Saw IV flashback is seen in the background of a flashback explaining the connection between Jigsaw and Hoffman.

Saw VI[edit]

In Saw VI, Billy appears on tape in the opening trap, which pits Simone and Eddie against each other. He also addresses William Easton during two of his four tests (Jigsaw himself addresses William via video in his first test). He appears "in person" in William's second test by way of hanging from a noose, and on video in the fourth. Saw VI marks the first time Billy was purposefully shown in person to deliver test information to victims. Snippets of the Seth Baxter tape which Billy is featured in are also played.

Saw 3D[edit]

Billy appears for the final time in the Saw series in Saw 3D. He gives Ryan and Brad instructions to their trap in person, does the same for Bobby Dagen's second test, and appears on tape for the others. When Hoffman goes to his hideout after he escapes the Reverse Beartrap, multiple Billy heads can be seen. His final appearance is in Hoffman's secret hideout at the end of the film; Hoffman blows it up, destroying Billy in the explosion. Billy's voice is changed, as if Jigsaw is using a voice changer, implying that it was Hoffman who recorded the tapes.

Dead Silence[edit]

In the 2007 film Dead Silence (by James Wan and Leigh Whannell, the creators of the Saw films), one of the puppets, who appears on the film's poster and wears the same outfit as Jigsaw's puppet, is named Billy. The Saw puppet is also seen in the movie for a brief second, in a shot that reveals all of Mary Shaw's puppets in the attic above the theater.

Death Sentence[edit]

A graffiti-style painting of Billy's face can be seen on a wall in James Wan's film Death Sentence.

Insidious[edit]

In the 2011 film Insidious, the scene where Josh (the father) is working late in the classroom, Billy is drawn in chalk on the blackboard behind his head. Underneath the drawing, the number eight is shown.

Other media[edit]

Comic[edit]

Billy can be seen in the corners of two panels near the beginning of Saw: Rebirth, foreshadowing John's eventual transformation into Jigsaw. The comic also appears to mark Billy as one of John's creations at the toy factory where he worked, but this backstory was negated by the Saw IV movie.

Video games[edit]

Billy, voiced by Tobin Bell, appears throughout Saw: The Video Game delivering hints and objectives to the player. He also featured prominently in marketing for the game.

He returns in Saw II: Flesh & Blood, the sequel to the first game, also voiced by Tobin Bell. Billy repeats his role as in the first game, giving hints and clues to the player. The player can also collect small Billy dolls throughout the game, which require solving more complicated puzzles in order to obtain them; they are off of the main path, so the player does not have to get them. Flesh & Blood is also the only time in the Saw franchise that he is actually called "Billy."

Amusement park appearances[edit]

Billy appears on numerous screens throughout the queue line of Saw – The Ride at Thorpe Park, England telling riders that they are not worthy of the life they have been given. He also appears on his tricycle at the start of the ride itself, telling riders what they will experience, before the car travels up the lift hill, appearing on a screen and saying 'GAME OVER' and finally at the end of the ride, where his head can be seen on a shelf covered with body parts.

The Saw Alive maze, also in Thorpe Park, allows parkgoers to be photographed with Billy.

In the US, Billy appears several times in the maze Saw: Game Over at Orlando Horror Nights at Universal Studios Florida.

In popular culture[edit]

A line of replica Billy dolls has been released for consumer purchase, mainly through offbeat gift stores. It retains the main characteristics of the doll, though is much cleaner in appearance. Billy Halloween masks and costumes have also been released for purchase.

In the "Koi Pond" episode of The Office, Dwight Schrute dressed up as Billy for Halloween.

On a webisode of The Hardy Show, former WWE Superstar Matt Hardy dressed up as Billy for Halloween.

Before the releases of Saw III and Saw IV, Billy was used in videos to promote the films on YouTube and MySpace.

Billy (with his name changed to Billy the Jigsaw Puppet for parody) is the main antagonist in Scary Movie 4.

In the Internet series The Annoying Orange, Billy appears in "Annoying Saw" and "Annoying Saw 2: The Annoying Death Trap", both in which Orange refers to him as "Clownface", "Emo Clown", and "Donald Trump".

Billy appears in a Dutch parody of The Little House on the Prairie from 'De TV kantine'. Nellie needs to cut off her arm or else she will see a man naked again which is seen earlier in the episode.

A parody of Billy, called Jigzaw, appears in episodes 148-149 of the anime Gintama. In appearance he looks similar to Billy, with a white and red mask and is also dressed in a black tuxedo. He sports many of Billy's quailities, like appearing on a TV screen, trapping two characters in a familiar "game" and pitting them against each other.

In "The Marines" episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Frylock is captured by a puppet parodying Billy who demands him to shove a grapefruit spoon in his eye.

Singer Nicki Minaj used a Billy mask as the face of 'Nemesis' during her setlist during Britney Spears Femme Fatale Tour in 2011.

In the internet videogame series Inkagames, appear a character based on Billy called "Pigsaw", who is a recurring villain from the games.

Rapper Hopsin's album Raw depicts Hopsin on a tricycle with his face painted to look like Billy. The album's title itself can be interpreted as a spoof of the movie's title.

Experimental pop artist Eric Millikin created a large mosaic portrait of Billy out of Halloween candy and spiders as part of his "Totally Sweet" series in 2013.[6][7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Saw: Uncut special features
  2. ^ Saw DVD special features
  3. ^ Hoffman, Gregg (May 13, 2005). "Saw 2: Dairy #2". JoBlo.com. p. 2. Retrieved August 24, 2011. 
  4. ^ Jason Ehl (props builder) (2007). The Details of Death: The Props of Saw III (DVD). Lionsgate Home Entertainment. Event occurs at 0:32–1:41. 
  5. ^ Topel, Fred (November 30, 2007). "Tobin Bell Previews Saw V Surprises". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2009-11-24. 
  6. ^ Burkart, Gregory. "Get a Taste of Eric Millikin's Totally Sweet Candy Monster Mosaics". FEARnet. Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  7. ^ Millikin, Eric. "Eric Millikin's totally sweet Halloween candy monster portraits". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 9 November 2013. 

External links[edit]