Booby Trap/The Takers (1973/1971)
By: Mr Intolerance on December 19, 2009  | 
DVD
Something Weird Video (USA). Region 1, NTSC. 4:3. English DD 2.0 Mono. 168 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Dwayne Avery; Carl Monson
Starring:Carl Monson, Angela Carnon, Buck Kartalian; Susan Apple, Fred Bush, Coe Bart, Kim Kiya
Screenplay: Dwayne Avery, PA Hedberg; Dash Freemont
Country: USA
External Links
Purchase IMDB IMDB
Something Weird Video is a frustrating distributor at times. They can, to paraphrase David Friedman, that doyen of sleaze, sell you the sizzle without the steak, but as that's what exploitation films are about, I can't say that I wasn't warned. Sometimes though, they sell you pure gold in cheese form, and guess which one you got here with this pair of Harry Novak-produced sleaze-o-rama weirdoes. Your old pal Mr Intolerance wouldn't lie to you; here is some video goodness/goofiness for you to sink your fangs into, and no mistake!

Booby Trap

Booby Trap has possibly the greatest premise for any film ever. Ex-Marine sergeant Jack Brannan, played completely bug-eyed cackling wildly over-the-top by shotgun-toting actor/director Carl Monson (more of whose work we'll be seeing on this disc), really hates teenagers. Really, really hates 'em. Matter of fact, he hates 'em so much he buys 40 claymore anti-personnel mines from an army buddy so that he can sow the ground of a Woodstock-lite festival with 'em and blow those hippies to kingdom come.

If that précis doesn't have you salivating, you are no friend of mine.

Turns out ol' Jack had a bit of a checkered past with the military (surprise, surprise), and he's being hotly sought after in his mobile home, as the taunting letters he's been sending his ex-commanding officer have led folks to believe that he's probably up to no good. Send in the astonishingly coiffured army detective Cliff Shepherd to investigate! At the same time, Jack's picked up a hitch-hiking hippie-chick, Gloria, presumably to remind him (and us) as to why he hates those counter-culture Leary-lovin' LSD freaks. Doesn't stop him from doing the hippity-dippity with her, though. Doesn't stop him blowing her up with a claymore after he's done, either. I told you this film just keeps on giving.

The plot (yes, there is one) takes a bit of a detour here via a burlesque dancin' house, where a few more elements (and quite a few boobs) are introduced, including Jack's ex-wife Taffy (now a cocktail waitress), the mob (one of whom is distractingly short), a guitarist, Rudy, who's currently knocking boots with Taffy, and the predatory homosexual, Frankie the Faggot, who wants to pop Rudy's cherry.

It's around this point where one of the characters states, "Talk, talk, too much talk" – I have to agree. While Booby Trap does have a great premise, it also does have more padding than a Sumo-suit. Jack pays his ex-wife a visit, and suddenly his motivation becomes a little more clear; remember the guitarist from the club who's schtupping Taffy? Well guess which rock festival he's going to be playing?

"And if there's anything more dangerous than a baby with a loaded gun, it's gotta be a psycho ex-Marine with 40 high-explosive mines." Words I think we can all live by. So Gloria's sister and Marine investigator Cliff (whose threads are quite pimp, let me tell you) head off to find laughing Jack and his land mines as the plot takes a left turn into being even more bizarre.

By this point all of the various disparate plot strands groaningly creak together, with Cliff, Gloria's sister Christine, Frankie, Taffy and Rudy, as well as Bianca and Scarpo (the Mafioso hoods) all starting to work their way towards cackling Jack (albeit for different reasons), who's having a grand old time planting landmines at the site of the festival.

We've also hit by this time Frankie's plan to rip off Bianca, Bianca's plan to rape Taffy, and a whole load of other craziness. The central premise of the film seems to be almost tangential to the tangents that now seemingly drive the plot. By this time it's a race to the finish line, and it's an end that needs to be seen ("Why don't you ask the faggot where the money is?!"), let me tell you.

The Takers

Let me just tell you what the back cover of the DVD starts off with on The Takers: "After a breakfast of LSD and hitch-hikers" - I was won over with that. If I wanted to see Shakespeare I would've asked, but give me an opening line, hell, an opening clause like that, and boy, am I sold. Does that make me shallow? Probably, but like I could give a fuck. Bring on The Takers, tout suite.

Will and EJ are bikers, and nasty, violent ones at that. They've also got rather a storm-trooper mentality towards the fairer sex as well; and there's a titty-sucking scene featuring skeezy old lookin' EJ towards the beginning of the film that simply ain't nice, but I digress. Not, now that I think about it that Will's any better, laying his head on a woman's titt-ays, with his tongue out, just kind of ineffectually lolling there like a labarador on a summer's day. Can't be that much fun for the lady, I'd think. At this point, twenty minutes of the film has gone by, and despite seeing a guy (kinda) get his face smashed in with a chain, some weed-smokin' and acid tokin', and some remarkably un-erotic sex scenes (I mean, is the dude trying to get the girl's whole boob in his mouth? That can't be comfortable for either party), nothing really has happened. The direction is rudimentary to the point of retardation. And that's putting it mildly. And, crime of all crimes in an exploitation film – I was getting bored.

Eventually Will and EJ rob a gas station (to the strangely disembodied cry of "you bastards!") and slowly flee, about as quickly as my love for the premise of this film was melting away, like snow on a griddle. And so the actual story begins a third of the film's run-time in, with Will and EJ invading the home of Laura, who along with her gal-pal Barbara have to put up with their shenanigans.

"We're gonna have us a party with educated, social-type broads!" The only problem is that Will and EJ's version of partying involves break and enter, rape, drugs and violence. Not really a collection of things high on the list of things for the modern woman. "I told you classy cunts we were goin' to have a party!" Not really the kind of language that's going to endear you to the female of the species. And after some rather ambiguous fucking, the girls decide they want revenge, and so does Laura's husband, played by Jack Brannan himself, Carl Monson! Now, we've already seen what he can do given a shotgun, let alone 40 claymore mines, so I'll draw a veil over the final proceedings of The Takers, if you like your exploitation sleazy and old school 70s style, I think you'll like it, although I must say, the ending is a little odd; kind of like somebody ran out of ideas and just said, "how about this?" – not a good idea.
Video
Booby Trap is actually quite good. Sorry to sound surprised, but I have been burnt by Something Weird discs before. It's a clear, sharp 4:3 image with practically no artefacts or glitches. It's a good picture for a film that's almost as old as me, and obviously not a particularly well-known one. The Takers looks a little substandard – not terrible, but showing itself to be a little bit the worse for wear and tear. In some regards that actually aids it, giving it a grimy feel that modern films just can't manage, but I think Something Weird could have tried a little harder with this one.
Audio
Booby Trap sound good for an old-ish exploitation film. I mean it's nothing to write home about, but does the job well, if being a bit hollow. Overdubs are more than usually obvious, lacking the hiss that permeates the film. The Takers is again adequate, but nothing special. A digital mono presentation that features that staple of late 60s/early 70s exploitation films – the folk song – I've heard better and I've heard worse.
Extra Features
Loads of them. This is usually where Something Weird kick a goal with their double bill features – an exhaustive collection of Extras, even if some are only tangentially related to the films you've just watched. There's a feature length commentary with producer Harry Novak and a bunch of his buddies from the wonderful world of film for Booby Trap, and a whole bunch of Novak trailers for Booby Trap ("Even a madman can enjoy having sex!"), The Takers ("This stark, realistic film may shock you…" Stark? Realistic? What film were these guys watching?), The Black Alley Cats, Black Bunch, Erika's Hot Summer, The Loves of Cynthia, Weekend Lovers ("and with the help of some of those home-made brownies you hear about, these two love-birds are flying high") and Young and Wild (which is simply Booby Trap with a different title).

There are also two galleries of Novak artwork (this one with some neat soundtrack work) and photos, and two short films, These Are The Aliens (a twenty minute tabloid style expose of an outlaw biker gang who really play up for the camera, and whose leader sounds like Steve Buscemi) and Magnificent Monique (which the Something Weird folks describe as an 8mm mail order loop where "A Cheerful Stripper demonstrates that Boobs Are Fun" – fair enough, but I think I already knew that). It's a pretty full house of Extras, folks.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
While I don't think either of the films here would ever reach the heady heights of being called "cult classics", I think there's a lot to like about them and this double feature DVD, where Something Weird live up to their name by presenting you with two films that are "something weird" indeed. These are definite "must-see" movies for fans of 70s US exploitation trash, but might be a little too rarefied for the palate of exploitation newbies. Nevertheless, a drive-in double of fun awaits the adventurous.

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