It’s a classic movie scenario: the villain has gotten a hold of the hero, but instead of just outright killing the hero like he should, the villain decides to dump them in an elaborate contraption specifically designed to kill them. Naturally, the hero is bound to escape, otherwise the movie would be over. However there are some movie deathtraps that stand out among the others. Deathtraps that seemed to steal the show for their inventive, yet ludicrous method for snuffing out life. Some of them are simple, and others are maddeningly complex. All of them are surprisingly awesome to behold.
Below are five of the most memorable movie deathtraps:
5. Jigsaw’s myriad of traps in the Saw series
Jigsaw’s deadly machinations in the Saw films shouldn’t truly be considered deathtraps per se, due to the fact that he designs them with the intention of driving his victims to do something unthinkable in order to survive. Whether it’s sawing your own foot off to save your family, or crawling through a cage full of razor wire, Jigsaw doesn’t truly intend for his victims to die. Rather his methods are a sort of morbid lesson for his victims to learn how to appreciate the life they have. Of course, more often than not, the people Jigsaw tries to “teach” end up killing themselves in the process. Though, in the later films Jigsaw’s students sabotage the traps so they can’t be solved. And with each and every sequel the deathtraps grew more and more ludicrous.
You can pretty much take your pick on which traps you enjoyed the most, from the derelict bathroom from the first film to the winding maze of torture chambers throughout Jigsaw’s labyrinthine warehouses. Needless to say, they were all rather spectacular to see, if not morbidly so.
4. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s trap for the Predator
This one’s a sort of reversal on the usual deathtrap scenario with the hero being the one trying to get the antagonist to fall into it. As his team gets picked off one-by-one by the illusive Predator, Arnold concocts a series of improvised traps in a jungle clearing to capture the creature. Of course, this being a list on DEATHtraps, these aren’t the traps that made the cut. It’s the trap Arnie uses at the end of the film that truly stands out. Essentially a rope trap attached to a counterweight, a giant log, that was supposed to send the Predator’s head into a row of spikes Arnie had carved earlier in the film. Possibly with the names of all his late teammates carved into them for that extra sense of retribution.
Of course those who have seen the film know this trap didn’t work out as intended. After managing to lure the Predator into the trap, Arnold’s carefully thought out plan was dashed when the Predator noticed the spikes above him. Thankfully, its detour around the trap placed it directly beneath the giant log acting as the trap’s counterweight. With one kick Arnie gave the Predator a headache he wouldn’t soon forget!
3. The Cubes from the Cube series
For those who don’t know, Cube is a series of Canadian science-fiction horror films about a group of people stuck in an elaborate series of cube-shaped rooms filled to the brim with traps ranging from sound activated spikes to spinning horrors of quantum mechanics. Of course these traps are dependent upon which cube you’re in. The first film’s cube was an elaborate work of ingenuity with shifting rooms filled with traps. Which is pretty much what would happen if Jigsaw ever turned into a Bond villain. The second film took place in the eponymous “hypercube” which was more or less the same room but in alternate realities. Some of these realities had severe shifts in time, collapsing realities, and razor sharp spinning fractals of death.
While both versions of the cube are threatening in their own right the original film’s cube takes the cake with rooms that like to spray acid in your face or cut you to ribbons with piano wire. While the hypercube in Cube 2 had some unique “traps” in the form of dimensional anomalies none of them really hold a candle to the original film’s cube.
2. The Death Star’s Trash Compactor
While not intentionally a death trap, the trash compactor on the Death Star in the original Star Wars is by far one of the most memorable and iconic scenes in film history. It practically needs no introduction. This deathtrap has become so popular it has been referenced in everything from other films such as Toy Story to video games like Half-Life.
However, what makes the trash compactor dangerous isn’t just its ability to pancake any unlucky rebel scum who may have fallen into it, but the fact that it has its share of vile pests lurking in its murky depths. The one-eyed tentacle monster which tries to make Luke its next lunch is proof of that, solidifying this seemingly mundane piece of technology on the Death Star as a deathtrap in more ways than one.
No temple affiliated with doom should be without this deathtrap. Of course, when referencing Indiana Jones there are plenty of traps to choose from. The most logical choice being the giant boulder in the beginning of Raiders of The Lost Ark, however, when it comes to deathtraps you needn’t look any further than The Temple of Doom’s descending ceiling trap.
What makes this one of the most memorable deathtraps in cinematic history is the fact that whatever malevolent architects designed it felt a room that turned its victims into puddles of jelly wasn’t enough and saw fit to throw in spikes which come out of the floor and ceiling. Complete with pre-impaled skulls for added effect! Needless to say, when it comes to deathtraps, this one is for me the most iconic in film history.
What is your favorite film deathtrap and why? Feel free to mention any that may have been unceremoniously neglected from this list in the comments below!