Booby Traps!

horror article booby trap

The booby trap in horror, or any film for that matter, can be quite the spectacle as we wait in anticipation to witness what happens when that chain of events is triggered by stepping on the wrong stone or touching something you weren’t supposed to touch. Usually, the end result is nothing good (for our character, at least) and oftentimes our characters fall victim to these traps unless of course they’re the protagonist/hero of the film where they will narrowly a more than likely explicit death which is, of course, what we earn to see. Let’s explore some of the more memorable horror films that feature some rather unique methods of killing by way of the booby trap. But before we get to the nitty-gritty of the horror, let’s first take a look at some of the more “lighthearted” traps.

You can’t talk about booby traps without thinking of “Data” and The Goonies. I know, I know it’s not horror but growing up in the 80’s this film is detrimental in my movie-watching experience as a youth and it’s probably one of the first movies that comes to mind when thinking of booby traps. And hey, maybe to a five-year-old The Goonies can be considered quite a frightening experience (see Sloth, One-Eyed Willie, lots of skeletons and a mean-old mother to boot!)

Then there is the conniving survivalist “Kevin McCallister” whom we all know and love from the Home Alone films. Despite this being a family friendly film, the concept is actually quite terrifying when put in a real-world context. Think about it, you fly away for the holidays and you don’t forget your luggage but, rather more precious cargo, you’re kid! Add to that, we got a couple of knucklehead burglars who are hell-bent on getting in the house when they could have put more effort doing, well, something else. Still, without them we wouldn’t be purvey on getting some skillfully applied traps courtesy of young “McCallister”. Some of which include: a burning a scalp, feathers to face, toy trucks, a very hot doorknob, cord in the hallway, Christmas ornaments meticulously placed beneath a window, the iron and much more – and as they say, hilarity ensues.

Now that we got that cutesy stuff out of the way!

Who says ‘Death’ can’t set his/her own booby traps? Ask the kids of the Final Destination films. Thing is, you can’t! They’re all dead! I have to say that although the Final Destination films progressively got worse with each one made, I kept returning to watch them for one simple reason – the death scenes. I was always amazed at the “blueprint” Death had designed for those destined to be killed and the extraordinary circumstances that lead to their untimely demise. At first, the death scenes in these films were just downright brutal but, eventually, they became a staple to the franchise that had many movie-goers churning and checking in just to see what the filmmakers had in store for us.

Here, for your viewing pleasure, is a compilation of all the death scenes of Final Destination:

Do you want to play a game? Nothing like waking up with a crude, Jerry-rigged booby trap (usually consisting of some sort of bear trap-looking device) set to go off at a specified time unless an inexplicable task is accomplished. Saw became an international “sensation” spawning seven (7, I say!) sequels, each worse than their respective predecessors. I wouldn’t say that many of the contraptions used in the film were particularly impressive as they, without a doubt, provided much gore and cringe as if that was the main reason for the film’s success…. ok, so maybe that was the reason why audiences all over the world kept flocking to movie theaters. With another Saw possibly on its way, I only hope that they become more “creative” with their traps.

The one creepy thing that came out of this movie, was Jigsaw the puppet!

Crawlspace (1986) is one of those movies that entice you by the trailer (as it should!) but did not deliver as promised. A man rents out his apartments to clad, attractive young women only to spy on them through a crawlspace all the while he keeps one locked up in a cage, plays with his pet rat and devises booby traps in his spare time.

Was it a terrible film? No (denial). Will I watch it again? Probably not. I’d have to say that the best thing about this movie was Klaus Kinski and not because of his great performance but, well, because he’s just plain, old creepy! Were the traps any good? Yes, in an 80s sort of way. But, I’d have to say that what stood out in Crawlspace was… thinking… well, I guess nothing really. I may have to revisit this one again… in the near future.

Nothing like hunting humans and then keeping them to add to your collection, huh? Such is the case with The Collector franchise which, I think, brings us some good old-fashioned booby traps. For some reason, I think this film has gone under the radar and doesn’t seem to get the praise it so deservedly warrants. Its sequel, The Collection ups the ante on the story line, therefore, the traps are a little more elaborate and sometimes a bit unwarranted. Still, an entertaining flick.

From writer Patrick Melton whose claim to fame came by way of HBO’s Project Greenlight, has since heralded such films like Feast, Piranha and a few of the Saw films (clearly no stranger to the booby trap). No back story to killer, but who cares, the traps in this one are great!

Honorable Mention:

Cube, one of my favorite sci-fi/horror films with no killer other than the surroundings as the title suggests, a cube, where booby traps can set to go off based on which new room was entered. Very much like Saw, our characters wake up in an undetermined location, only here there is no creepy tricycle clad puppet to read off instructions and no rules, at least none that are apparent. No, this is one that tests your wits. Our characters have to figure out puzzles on their own in this elaborate maze in the shape of a cube.

Have any suggestions on other films with booby traps? Please feel free to chime in and discuss!

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