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23 Convoluted Movie Traps

Basil The Great Mouse Detective (1986)

Who? Evil genius Professor Ratigan (Vincent Price), who has rodent sleuth Basil of Baker Street (Barrie Ingham) in his clutches.

What? The ultimate mousetrap, involving a gun, a candle and a crossbow - and gloriously timed to go off when Ratigan's specially-recorded gramophone stops playing.

Why... give London's greatest detective so much thinking time? Time the trap to a decent speedcore 12-inch, and he'd be mouse-meat by now.

Alien (1979)

Who? The spawn of the titular Xenomorphs, awaiting their next unfortunate surrogate parents.

What? A sleeping army sitting in a giant egg-box on LV-426 for eternity, and then just one of the buggers hatches and incubates in Kane (John Hurt) until the ship's left the planet.

Why... not set up a gigantic egg-timer to go off when anybody disturbs the nest, so the whole of the Nostromo crew can be face-hugged? Seriously, this covert life cycle needs a lot of work if anything's ever to get done.

Home Alone (1990)

Who? Kidult sadist Kevin McAllister (Macauley Culkin), seeing off inept burgulars Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern

What? Less one convoluted trap than a house full of small, simple ones - bear in mind he is only 10 years old, so his repertoire doesn't extend much beyond icy steps, shattered glass and blowtorches hidden behind doors.

Why... doesn't Kevin have access to a gun, like other American kids?

Speed (1994)

Who? Crazy ex-cop bomber Howard Payne (Dennis Hopper), so pissed off about being retired he's ransoming L.A. with a series of explosive ultimatums.

What? A bomb on a bus, primed when the speedomoter reaches 50mph, set to detonate when it drops below the same number.

Why... take such a massive chance on traffic? Has this guy never commuted? Frankly, it's a wonder the film isn't over before hero cop Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves) lets the driver know not to stop.

Deathtrap (1982)

Who? Lovers Sidney and Clifford (Michael Caine and Christopher Reeve), out to get Sidney's wife Myra (Dyan Cannon) out of the way.

What? Playwright Sidney says he's 'murdered' rival Clifford for his manuscript, called "Deathtrap," only for the 'corpse' to rise and scare Myra to death.

Why... are there so many many quote marks in that last paragraph? First rule of setting a trap: don't go 'meta' with your planning.

The Goonies (1985)

Who? Dead pirate One Eyed Willy, laying a series of traps to stop greed adventurers getting his gold.

What? Catacombs full of 'em. Highlight: an organ made from human bones, with the floor falling into a spike-filled chasm for each bum note played. Pirates = tough crowd.

Why... has Willy provided a handy music sheet for the occasion? (And, more importantly, why isn't the tune 'Yo Ho Ho and a Barrel of Rum?'). Clearly, this is a cutthroat only interested in weeding out the tone-deaf.

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)

Who? Dr Evil (Mike Myers), with a catch-all disposal solution for any heroic superspies who might drop in.

What? "An easily escapeable situation involving an overly elaborate and exotic death," but the vagaries of international law mean that Evil's original choice of predator - sharks with laserbeams - have been replaced by ill-tempered mutated seabass.

Why... is this piss-take so much more impressive than most of the serious traps on this list? C'mon, who wouldn't pay to see ill-tempered mutated seabass?

The Parent Trap (1998)

Who? Identical but separated twins Hallie and Annie (Lindsay Lohan), determined to bring together divorced parents Nick (Dennis Quaid) and Elizabeth (Natasha Richardson).

What? Switched identities, with a Transatlantic twist, as the sisters swap places to bring their parents back together, while playing various minor pranks to eliminate Nick's golddigger girlfriend.

Why... go all to that trouble and expense, when they could have simply sent both parents personalised greetings cards from Moonpig, addressed from each other?

A Scanner Darkly (2006)

Who? Undercover narc Donna (Winona Ryder), using fellow agent Fred (Keanu Reeves) in an elaborate sting to incriminate Substance D smuggler Barris (Robert Downey Jr)

What? Bear with us. Fred has become a Substance D addict while working deep undercover as Barris' friend Bob Arctor. However, this is a deliberate tactic to try and get Fred/Arctor close enough to get the evidence Donna needs.

Why... did anybody think that using a stoner is going to get anything useful done? At best, there will be an excess of cereal in the house. But probably no other food.

The Jewel Of The Nile (1985)

Who? Villainous Omar (Sprios Focas), who'se got adventurer Jack Colton (Michael Douglas) and his novelist squeeze Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner) all tied up.

What? A proper Penelope Pitstop -style showpiece, taken from one of Joan's novels. Jack and Joan are suspended over a deep pit, but Joan's ropes are slowly being dissolved by drops of acid, while Jack's are being gnawed away by rats.

Why... is the villain so impressionable he has to kill his victims based on their literature? God forbid he ever captures Brett Easton Ellis.