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This Famous Horror Movie Prop Got Its Own Seat On A Plane

Flying can be anxiety-inducing on its own. In 2019, a Washington Post article reported that nearly 40% of the general population is afraid of flying, and 2.5% have a clinically diagnosed phobia.

Films like "Snakes on a Plane" and "Final Destination" play on that common fear — in fact, it's an entire subgenre. The popularity of both the genre and phobia is somewhat counterintuitive; as an article from Reuters explained: "aviation deaths have been falling dramatically" in the last 20 years.

The WaPo article reports that the anxieties can be overcome through things like medication and exposure therapy. What it doesn't explain, though, is what to do if you spot a frightening horror film prop across the aisle. The odds are low — but not impossible. Imagine working through your flight anxiety only to discover a lifelike horror prop lounging in the next row. For passengers on one international flight in 2003, that nightmare came true.

So, which famous horror prop got its own seat on that flight?

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Seated between director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell, Billy the Puppet enjoyed a flight from Melbourne to Los Angeles. The creepy, child-sized ventriloquist's dummy was handcrafted by Wan for "Saw," the first film in the torture-filled psychological horror franchise.

The colleagues bought Billy his own seat to prevent anything from damaging him, as they were headed to Hollywood to get the movie made and he was their only puppet. The ambitious duo was hoping to turn their 10-minute short film, now referred to as "Saw 0.5," into a feature-length film. Though Whannell confessed that they were "naive" going into everything, they walked straight into a million-dollar deal with Twisted Pictures, and the rest was history.

Passengers on that flight may have been horrified at the time, but they witnessed the start of a nine-film franchise. At least the oft-parodied puppet wasn't riding his signature old-fashioned tricycle up and down the aisles.