Twenty years ago, Winnetka, Illinois hero Kevin McCallister saved his home from the greedy paws of the Wet Bandits, two burglars of vastly altered heights and intelligence levels who wanted nothing more than to steal his family’s heirlooms and flood the basement on their way out. Rather than fight the two head on, the eight-year-old used wily schemes to accomplish his goals and outfitted his entire residence with booby traps. That’s right, booby traps. Like some scientifically blessed prodigy with an unquenchable desire to cause pain and embarrassment, he hooked up Rube Goldberg machines all over his three story mansion and watched his foes unwittingly trip them one after another.
As a child, I remember thinking each was an Einstein-level brain victory. I remember thinking all of them were evidence of a genius at work, but upon further review, I may have given Kevin a little too much credit. Some of the booby traps are brilliant, sure, but some of the other ones are cumbersome, ill-advised or dangerous double-edged swords. So, since it’s Hump Day and I’ve got nothing better to do, I’ve decided to order every single one of the booby traps from the worst to the best idea, complete with far more analysis than necessary.
So, grab the Pepsi out Fuller’s hands (he pisses the bed) and get ready to ward off a few Uncle Frank insults ("you little jerk"), it’s time to dig deep into Kevin McCallister's bag of tricks.
#14) Feathers To The Face
The Idea: Pour a sticky substance onto a long sheet of plastic wrap. Tape the plastic wrap face high across a room’s entryway. Place a mountain of feathers in front of a fan and jam a pencil inside the fan to prevent it from spinning. Connect the pencil to a piece of string on the floor; so, when the string is tripped the fan will propel the feathers forward and stick to the poor bastard with sticky stuff on his face.
Best Case Scenario: All of the moving parts will flow perfectly, and the victim will wind up with feathers all over his or her face. As feathers are rather goofy when attached to a human being, this forced fashion choice will cause moderate embarrassment and lead other burglars to inquire why the victim is dressed like a chicken. This could, hypothetically, leave the feather-covered victim feeling demoralized and without the emotional willpower to continue stealing things.
Worst Case Scenario: Any of the moving parts fail to function as advertised and the contraption misfires, or the feathers only serve to enrage the victim, giving him an extra ten percent strength on account of the seething anger.
Analysis: I appreciate this booby trap in the same way I do taunting or a good end zone celebration, but it has almost no practical use.
#13) Toy Cars And Trucks On The Floor
The Idea: Put a slew of Micro Machines on the ground in front of stairs. Spread them out just enough so they cover a large amount of area but aren’t too spaced out to allow an easy path through.
Best Case Scenario: Not one but two burglars running to the stairs at the exact same moment will encounter the Micro Machines and full on wipe out, landing exactly on that space where their backs meets their necks. This disastrous trip will leave them with large bruises for a few weeks and slightly reduced running and speed walking capabilities in the immediate future.
Worst Case Scenario: One or both of the burglars look down before heading to the stairs, which allows said baddie to either pick up each of the Micro Machines and move them out of the way or get a running start and simply jump over the contraptions. Either way, no one falls on their necks, and it merely slows those involved down approximately ten seconds.
Analysis: I appreciate how little time this booby trap takes to set up. Unlike some of these others that would take a physics major ten minutes to do, an eight-year-old could easily set this one up. That being said, since most people have a tendency to at least occasionally look at the ground when running, the likelihood of it being avoided is well over fifty percent, and the likelihood of it taking out two burglars is damn near zero.
#12) A Cord Running Across The Hallway
The Idea: String a very tight piece of rope, wire or cord across a hallway. Place it a little above knee height for an adult and leave it there.
Best Case Scenario: In full pursuit with all focus straight ahead, the burglar will run the front of his leg directly into the cord, face planting into the ground without the time or wherewithal to put his hand up. This will immediately break his momentum and delay him at least fifteen seconds while he attempts to get up. In a perfect world, it will also cause concussion-like symptoms that make him feel vaguely disoriented, or as if his facial crowbar has been rung.
Worst Case Scenario: The home intruder will notice the cord while doing whatever it is he’s doing and simply jump or high step over it, delaying him less than half a second and giving him the knowledge needed to avoid the booby trap in the future.
Analysis: Like the Micro Machines, this is a thirty second deal. There’s a very good chance it won’t work, but there’s no harm in attempting, at least provided you’re smart enough to intuitively remember where you set the wire up.
#11) Throw A Loose Tarantula At Someone’s Face
The Idea: During a series of comical failures and accidents, set your brother’s Tarantula free inside the house. Let it wander for days, doing whatever it is Tarantulas do, and then, if you happen to stumble upon the Tarantula during a moment of need, use it to your advantage as a weapon.
Best Case Scenario: Like a support animal or a fortuitous offering from God, the Tarantula actually will come to you at the exact right moment, and you will then be able to use the Tarantula as a weapon against the unsuspecting burglars who are both very uncomfortable around spiders. Even better, the burglars will then attack each other with crowbars in an ill-advised attempt to kill the Tarantula.
Worst Case Scenario: The burglars aren’t particularly afraid of spiders. Maybe they find the little guy first and use him as a weapon on you, or maybe the Tarantula never appears and instead scurries into your room and takes little spider poops all over your most prized possessions. And in case if you were wondering, spiders do poop. I just verified it with the most reputable source in the world, Yahoo Answers.
Analysis: This booby trap is a little too slap dash and random. So much of it involves variables out of the hero’s control. That being said, since the average person is likely to freak out about spiders, even if they’re not poisonous to human beings, I don’t hate it.
#10) Cut The Treehouse Zipline
The Idea: Slide from the big people’s house to the treehouse on a zipline. Then, when the burglars attempt to follow by climbing across the rope, cut the wire with large hedge clippers procured from the open garage your father forgot to close when he left for Paris.
Best Case Scenario: Both of the burglars will follow and be on the rope at the same time when you cut it. Instead of letting go and falling the twelve or so feet to the ground, all involved will inexplicably hold on and get propelled into the side of the house with enough inertia to knock out some teeth and leave the victims dazed and confused for a period longer than thirty seconds.
Worst Case Scenario: They won’t follow you on the zipline. Instead, they’ll race down the stairs and scurry outside, leaving you trapped inside the treehouse and forced to potentially take the zipline back yourself, a scheme that may not work so well depending on if the angle to the house is slightly higher.
Analysis: This one has the potential to pay off big, but its backfire percentage is stupidly high. I wouldn’t mind having it in my back pocket, but I certainly wouldn’t go into the burglar showdown expecting to use it.
#9) Make The Doorknob Really Hot
The Idea: Place one of those electric water heater gadgets on the doorknob inside the house. This will heat up the doorknob on the outside of the house, as well.
Best Case Scenario: The hapless criminal will grab the doorknob in an attempt to yank it open. This will burn off some of the skin on his hand, giving him a hell of a red mark and forcing him to either head to the hospital immediately to get skin from his butt grafted onto his hands or he will at least have to use a different entrance to get into the house, depending on how long he held onto the doorknob for.
Worst Case Scenario: The burglars start with the backdoor since, you know, that’s what burglars are normally used to doing, thus bypassing this clever little contraption and making all of the effort moot.
Analysis: Easily one of the most outside the box ideas on this list, it works very well because no one sees a hot door handle coming. You can’t scheme for that going into a burglary, even if you know to expect a wide variety of strange booby traps.
#8) Lure Someone Into A Snow Shovel Attack
The Idea: After making the burglars’ lives a living hell for about thirty minutes, secretly call the cops and report a burglary at a different residence. Later, scurry to said residence and wait for the anti-heroes to catch you, hang you on a hook and start making torturous threats. At that point, the creepy dude who also lives next door will emerge with a snow shovel and start delivering temple shots.
Best Case Scenario: Everything in the above paragraph will happen perfectly. Old Man Marley will get in two especially vicious swats with his beloved snow shovel, and both of the poor bastards who receive said shots will collapse on the ground and remain motionless just long enough for the cops to show up, slap on the handcuffs and connect them to every burglary in which the faucet was left on.
Worst Case Scenario: Old Man Marley, pumped up about reconnecting with his son, will take his granddaughter to the movies, which would be totally reasonable given no one has informed him he needs to be around to wreck faces with his snow shovel. He will not show up to bail anyone out, leaving the burglars free reign to bite off fingers and burn heads.
Analysis: This is the highest risk, highest reward booby trap on the list. It’s the end game. Pull it off and these bastards go to prison until the sequel. Fail and they might actually kill you. Maybe. Come to think of it, I’m not really sure if they’ve decided if they’re willing to straight up murder an eight-year-old. Regardless, there’s the potential for disaster.
#7) Place Ornaments Under The Window
The Idea: Take a box of fancy ornaments and spread them out underneath a window at increments that would force someone breaking into the window to step directly on at least one.
Best Case Scenario: One of the burglars will find himself in a strange situation in which he’ll have to remove one of his shoes. He will then climb into the window and land directly on the ornaments you don’t like anyway, breaking each into particularly jagged shards that will cut his feet and leave him howling in pain. He will then step on another one, even after he’s aware of their presence because he’s a stupid, stupid human being.
Worst Case Scenario: The burglar won’t take his shoes off because people don’t typically enter homes without shoes on. The ornaments will crush beneath his shoes, and he’ll go on his way as if nothing negative happened to him whatsoever except having to briefly put up with the slightly annoying sound of ornaments shattering.
Analysis: The thought of stepping on an ornament is horrifying. I can’t imagine how uniquely uncomfortable that would feel. It would be enough to ruin a burglar’s day, whether he made off with all the fancy merchandise in the McCallister home or not.
#6) Throw Water On Already Icy Stairs
The Idea: Take a bucket of water and/ or a hose and spray water all over already slippery stairs. This will create even more ice and make the surface nearly impossible to navigate, especially for someone not expecting ice.
Best Case Scenario: The burglars will try to enter the house and wipe out in comical fashion repeatedly. Every time they wipe out, they will fall back to the bottom of the stairs, forcing each to navigate the entire grouping of steps again, as if they're trapped inside some painful video game level. Eventually, one or both will either break their backs or completely give up on entering the house in that fashion.
Worst Case Scenario: Old Man Marley will decide to be an extremely nice neighbor and go ahead and salt your extremely icy stairs. By the time the burglar arrives, the stairs will be very easy to navigate. Or perhaps, he will not ice the stairs, but in an effort to flee the property, you will find yourself with a need to get down the stairs and you will break your back during a disastrous wipeout.
Analysis: Throwing water on the stairs is obviously the first thing you do. Anyone defending their home would do it. Back in the day, knights even threw some water around their castles to ward off potential attackers.
#5) Attach An Iron To The String Of A Light Bulb
The Idea: Take an iron and attach it to a long string. Dangle the aforementioned screen one floor below next to a light bulb. When the poor bastard tries to turn on the light bulb, he will actually yank the iron down from the second floor.
Best Case Scenario: One of the burglars will make his way over to the light and yank on it. The iron will then come careening down an entire floor and smack him directly in the face, either busting his nose or knocking him unconscious from the force of the attack. This large fall will also somehow not destroy the iron, allowing years of effective future ironing.
Worst Case Scenario: The burglar will either not turn on the lightbulb or move over a foot and watch it speed past. Irons aren’t exactly the widest contraptions in the world, and this one could easily miss its intended target.
Analysis: Have you ever heard stories about people throwing pennies off high buildings and it seriously injuring pedestrians walking by on the ground level? Well, that’s the basic idea here. Irons are heavy regardless. Even falling from a distance of ten feet or so, they’re likely to build up some terrifying momentum. I think there may be a legit chance of death if the angles work out correctly. Plus, this isn’t exactly an hour long ordeal to set up.
#4) Put Tar On The Stairs And Hide A Face-Up Nail
The Idea: Slather all of the stairs with really sticky tar. Them hammer a nail into a very thin black substance and place it face up on top of the tar.
Best Case Scenario: Constantly getting stuck on his way up the stairs, the burglar will remove his shoes. Later, he will remove his socks. And even later, he will step directly onto the nail, falling all the way back down the stairs and potentially breaking his neck. A later autopsy will reveal he contracted tetanus just moments before his death.
Worst Case Scenario: The burglar will avoid the one nail cleverly hidden. He will make his way upstairs, absent shoes, and know without a shadow of a doubt that he should never return to the basement for any reason at all. He will also alert his partner who will avoid the downstairs as well.
Analysis: I love this booby trap, but for the life of me I don’t understand what the appeal of only using one nail is. The top rows of stairs should be lined with nails. If someone is getting up the stairs, it should be a mathematical guarantee that he will step on multiple nails, at least provided he doesn’t have some weird Bruce Lee, Parkour expertise in his backpocket that allows him to walk up the walls.
#3) Chuck Paint Cans Down The Stairs
The Idea: Attach a rope or sturdy piece of string to one or more paint cans. Attach that string to something heavy. Swing the paint cans when someone tries to walk up the stairs.
Best Case Scenario: Both of the burglars will attempt to climb the stairs at the same time. The first paint can will hit one of them directly in the face, possibly shattering his orbital bone. The second paint can will strike the second burglar as he tries to console his injured friend who is profusely bleeding all over the foyer. The cans will then somehow defy the laws of physics and swing all the way back up to the top of the stairs, allowing more ammunition just in case someone tries to get up.
Worst Case Scenario: Both cans miss their intended targets. The criminals simply run up the stairs and are able to grab a hold of the thrower without even really breaking stride.
Analysis: The first paint can attack is a total ambush move. It’s like some upgraded American Gladiators gauntlet shit. With the right connection, it would send someone flying all the way down the stairs and could even know him unconscious. The chances of it working twice are very remote, but I see no reason why one paint can chuck wouldn’t be more than worth it.
#2) Shoot Someone In The Dick With A BB Gun Through The Doggie Door
The Idea: Pull out a BB gun and sit next to a door. When you hear movement, slowly slide the BB gun through the doggie door. Carefully aim it at someone’s penis and pull the trigger.
Best Case Scenario: The assailants won’t approach the door with much energy. They’ll talk for an extended period of time, allowing plenty of breathing room to make sure the gun is pointed directly at the person’s dick. The shot will hit its mark, and the other ignorant criminal, almost unfairly stupid, will respond to the situation by sticking his head through the doggie door to find out what’s up, allowing him to be shot directly between the eyes.
Worst Case Scenario: The burglars get in through a completely different entrance. They sneak into the kitchen the backway without making any nose and are able to wrestle the gun away and shoot you in the dick with it before you even know what the hell just happened.
Analysis: The only problem with this plan is there’s not a real gun involved. No one is going to die from a BB gun blast, even if he’s hit directly in the dick. It’ll be more than enough to ruin a large portion of his evening and could potentially even affect his ability to get erections briefly, but it’ll also piss him off beyond words because that’s a clear step over the line. There are other places you can shoot someone and get your point across.
#1) A Blowtorch To The Head
The Idea: Attach a string to a blowtorch. Attach the blowtorch to the top of a door and to the handle. When someone enters the room, the pulled string will start the blowtorch, shooting fire at the entranceway.
Best Case Scenario: One of the burglars will open the door at just the right speed, triggering the mechanism perfectly. Fire will then consume the top of his head, sending him into a state of such shock that he remains beneath the fire for a period of more than five seconds. He will then run all the way out of the house in order to dunk his head in the snow and immediately get in his car and drive to the hospital to deal with his head being burned. While at the hospital, the nurses will make fun of him for his stupid-looking, partially-burned hat.
Worst Case Scenario: In a bad mood due to the other booby traps, he runs into the door quickly and with such pace that it knocks the blowtorch to the ground. He notices the blowtorch and decides to use it as his own personal weapon.
Analysis: The blowtorch is the best booby trap in Home Alone. It’s remarkably simple. It doesn’t require anyone to actually be there, and it has the capability of actually taking someone’s life.
Enthusiastic about Clue, case-of-the-week mysteries, the NBA and cookies at Disney World. Less enthusiastic about the pricing structure of cable, loud noises and Tuesdays.
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