|“||I am going to give you a hint as to where I've hidden the key. So listen carefully, the hint is this: it's right before your eyes.||”|
— Jigsaw hints at the position of the key[src]
Design and Function
The Death Mask was a mechanical contraption which worked similar to an iron maiden and was placed around the victim's neck. It consisted of two parts of a metal mask, the back and the front part. Both parts were angled down from the victim's head. The inside of both parts was spiked with numerous pointy nails. A timer was attached to one side of it. Usually the victim had 60 seconds to find the key, unlock the trap and remove it. If the victim failed to do so, the mask would close on the victim's head, resulting in the nails piercing the skull. Additionally a leather harness was attached to the victim's chest and secured with a padlock to hold the device in place. (Saw II)
|“||Hello, Michael. I want to play a game. So far in what could loosely be called your life, you've made a living watching others. Society would call you an informant, a rat, a snitch. I call you unworthy of the body you possess, of the life that you've been given. Now we will see if you are willing to look inward, rather than outward, to give up on the one thing you rely on in order to go on living. The device around your neck is a death mask. The mask is on a spring timer. If you do not locate the key in time, the mask will close. Think of it like a Venus Flytrap. What you are looking at right now is your own body, not more than two hours ago. Don't worry, you're sound asleep and can't feel a thing. Taking into account that you are at a great disadvantage here, I am going to give you a hint as to where I've hidden the key. So listen carefully, the hint is this: it's right before your eyes. How much blood will you shed to stay alive, Michael? Live or die, make your choice.||”|
— Michael Marks' tape[src]
The victim of the trap was Michael Marks, a police informant who had been targeted by John Kramer, better known as the Jigsaw Killer, due to his work, which mainly consisted of spying on other people. After being sedated and abducted by Jigsaw or one of his apprentices, Michael was taken to a secret hideout. While he was unconscious, Dr. Lawrence Gordon, who was an apprentice of Jigsaw as well, performed a surgery on him and placed a key behind his right eye while being filmed. After that, a metallic device, consisting of the back and front part of a nail-spiked mask, was put on him and secured with a padlock. Michael was then taken to another room and placed on a chair. (Saw II, 3D)
Approximately two hours after the surgery, Michael woke up and immediately felt uncomfortable due to the foreign environment. Moments later he looked at himself in a small mirror and panicked when he saw his bloody, swollen eye. Frightened by the situation, Michael started to scream for help and stood up from his chair. Only mere seconds later, a TV turned on right in front of him, showing a video of a mechanic ventriloquist puppet. The puppet told him that he had been abducted due to his work as an informant and informed him, that the nail-spiked mask around his neck would be closed if he didn't managed to free himself within 60 seconds, causing his head to be pierced by the nails. Furthermore it revealed a recording of his surgery two hours before. However it also gave him a clue where to find the key that could save his life. When Michael saw a few X-rays of his head lying on top of the TV, he realized that the key was hidden behind his eye.
When the video ended and the TV turned off, Michael's fear and panic grew even more. While trying to free himself, he accidently caused a metal pin to be pulled out of the trap which caused the timer to count down. Realizing that his game had begun, Michael saw a tool box lying on the floor and opened it, he found a scalpel. Ridden by fear and adrenaline, Michael stepped to the mirror and tried to cut out his eye. However he couldn't bring himself to endure the pain and ultimately gave up. With only a few seconds left, Michael fell down on his knees and started to cry while desperately screaming for help. When the timer went off, the mask closed on his face, killing Michael in the process. (Saw II)
After Michael's death, a jigsaw piece was cut from his skin. His corpse was found on the next day during an asbestos disposal in the building. When Detective Allison Kerry arrived at the crime scene and saw the trap and the wound in the shape of a jigsaw piece, she immediately knew that Michael had become the latest victim of the Jigsaw Killer. The first officer who had arrived shortly before Kerry believed that Michael was an informant of Eric Matthews. However he wasn't entirely sure of it. When Kerry found the words "Look closer, Detective Matthews" written on the ceiling, she decided to call the Sergeant so he would send Eric to the crime scene. Eric arrived shortly afterward and was introduced to the situation by Kerry. When he took a look at the corpse and discovered a tattoo at Michael's leg, he was able to identify him and confirmed, that Michael was actually his informant. Furthermore he found an engraving of Wilson Steel on the metal parts that the mask had been built of. This engraving later helped him to deduce the location of Jigsaw's hideout. Michael's corpse was taken to the morgue for his autopsy by Dr. Adam Heffner, while the remains of the mask, the scalpel, the metal box and the video tape were taken to the evidence room. (Saw II, VI)
Use in other Media
The mask also appeared in Saw: The Video Game which took place directly after the first movie. Detective David Tapp was abducted by Jigsaw and taken to the abandoned Whitehurst Insane Asylum where he had to play one of Jigsaw's games on his own. As he made his way through the asylum, Tapp encountered numerous other prisoners who were trying to kill him in order to get a key which could free them. The key was hidden inside Tapp's body by Jigsaw. Some of the prisoners Tapp had to fight in order to progress wore the same Death Masks as Michael did in the beginning of the second film. Most of them were killed by him in self-defense.
|“||Hello, Campbell. I want to play a game. You flushed your own life down the toilet with your addiction to drugs. The sins of the father pass on to the son, who is also a drug addict. You no longer know if he is alive or dead. I can show you the truth. But you must shed some blood.||”|
— Campbell Iman's tape[src]
The Death Mask was also used in the games sequel, Saw II: Flesh & Blood. This time, the victim of the trap was Campbell Iman, a drug addict and terminal cancer patient. Just like in Michael's case, the key was hidden behind his right eye. When Campbell woke up, he immediately panicked and tried to remove the mask with brute force. When he jumped up from the chair, a TV turned on in front of him. The mechanical ventriloquist puppet appeared on the screen. It confronted Campbell with both his and his son's drug addiction and their bad relationship, stating that Campbell didn't even know if his son was still alive. However, it also offered him to show him the truth about his son, but only if he was willing to play his game.
As the TV turned off again, Campbell saw an x-ray of his head on the wall. Realizing that the key to the mask was hidden behind his eye, he immediately grabbed a scalpel from a small table in front of him. Despite the great amount of time and the mask's timer, which constantly ticked down, Campbell tried to stay calm and slowly cut open the scar right below his eye. Eventually, he ripped the key out of his wound and freed himself from the mask, only seconds before it slammed shut.
In The Scott Tibbs Documentary, the events surrounding Michael's death were reported in a news broadcast by reporter Suzie Sherman. While holding back the name of the victim, she told her audience about the brutality of the murder and the death mask, stating that Michael had become another victim of Jigsaw.
- According to one of the features on the disc of Saw II, Michael was originally going to be supplied with the key in one of his hands, but would have been strapped to the chair at the wrists. Above the hand with the key would have been a razor, which would dig into his flesh when Michael tried to use it to open the padlock attached to the leather harness. Before the scene was filmed, a few crew members wanted Michael's eye to pop out as the masks snapped shut but could not achieve the effect.
- According to the set and costume designers, the mask was real, had certain parts of metal to achieve the proper clang sound, the nails were made out of soft foam
- The Death Mask can be seen briefly on a table next to Amanda in the theatrical version of Saw III.
- The Death Mask also has a short screen time in the comedy movie Scary Movie 4.
- A drawing of the Death Mask can be seen briefly in a scene in Saw II next to John while he talks to Eric about the cure to cancer.
- According to the "Making of Venus Flytrap" YouTube video, Michael was originally going to vomit to the ground once he learns that the key to the mask is behind his eye.
Public Execution Trap • Pain Train • Horsepower Trap • Lawnmower Trap • Bobby's Trial • Suspended Cage • Silence Circle • Impalement Wheel • Hangman's Noose • Wisdom Teeth Combination • Brazen Bull • Sentry Gun Trap • Cyanide Box • Reverse Beartrap