Rube Goldberg Machines and Inventions in Horror Films


Even in worlds of horror, the Rube Goldberg machine finds its way. The machine is very elaborate and the delivery of the kill can be very slow, creating a strong sense of suspense and horror. What would Rube Goldberg think of this use of his machine type?

I – Saw series

In the Saw series, the machines of revenge and execution are very elaborate. This had the purpose of providing the victim with the false hope that he would still be saved. After all, Jigsaw lays out some conditions that the victim has to follow in order to escape. As time elapses, one part of the machine clicks, drawing the next part of the execution nearer. The victim sees his death coming closer and closer. The viewers watch in total dread. In later installments of the series, they know that victims rarely escape and usually die a bloody and violent death.

The death trap concept has been used in other films, whether they may be action or horror, but the Saw series has made it a lot more notorious. There is a slim chance of getting out of the trap, but at least there is that chance. The victim must sacrifice something, though – it could be his own limb or someone else’s life. The Saw death trap could also be a study in ruthlessness. The death trap is not a new concept, however. Edgar Allan Poe had already introduced his own death trap in The Pit and the Pendulum. Death is imminent except the protagonist is able to escape with the help of rats, which gnaw through the ropes that held him to wait for almost sure death.

II – Final Destination series

The Final Destination series is about people who have escaped tragedy that could have taken their lives. In its premise, people could never escape their fate and will ultimately die a more gruesome death than was originally scheduled for them.

Each of those kills is pretty elaborate, which would remind you of a Rube Goldberg machine. There is no machine per se but the sequence of events need only be triggered and the rest will just follow as if automatically or inevitably.

What is so Rube Goldberg about a Final Destination kill? Well, there is a sequence of events involved. If the first part is triggered, the rest will just follow. Even live animals, such as horses, can be involved in the kill sequence. The series is about how fate can act out to produce its desired goal no matter how much it has to go through to achieve it. Rube Goldberg machines certainly need a dose of help from fate when they try to execute jobs even with animals and other living beings involved in the process.


There may be other tales of horror out there that revel in the slow and deliberate hand of fate or someone as tauntingly cruel with his revenge as Jigsaw. Whenever there are people who want suspense that comes from the helplessness of watching a chain of events unfold towards its horrific conclusion, there will be Rube Goldberg machines or events in the horror genre. Continue to next page.