From The Art of War by Sun Tzu:
If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.
And so, with that in mind, here are all of Kevin McAllister’s booby traps in Home Alone — using the list provided by the Home Alone Wiki as our guide — ranked from worst to best.
16. Surprise shovel to the head
Ranked last not because it wasn’t important, but because it was not, technically, a “booby trap.” It was more of a fortuitous stroke of luck that was set in motion by young Kevin befriending a creepy old shovel-wielding man. This is generally not a wise course of action, even if it worked out here.
NOTE: I reserve the right to do a complete 180 and rank this first if we eventually find out that it was Kevin’s plan all along to sweeten this guy up so he would come save the day at the end. That would have been diabolical and, I suppose, yes, a booby trap.
15. Tarantula on the face
An excellent improvisation? Sure. But still not a booby trap.
(Booby trap or not, please do not put a tarantula on my face. Ever. For any reason. I do not think I would like it.)
14. Fireworks used to simulate gunfire
A stalling technique that inflicts fear temporarily until they realize a suburban child does not, in all likelihood, possess or have the ability to control a machine gun.
13. Trip wire in hallway
Simple. Effective. Timeless. Guerrilla warfare at its finest.
12. Micro Machines slipperoo
Ranked ahead of the trip wire, even though it has the same basic purpose and outcome, because it results in a funnier looking fall. We are doing hard science here.
11. Ice on the stairs to the basement
The lesser of the two stair icings, for reasons we’ll get to shortly.
10. Falling iron in the face
I originally had this one in the top five. Then I realized how long Marv spends staring up at the iron as it falls toward his face. He had plenty of time to avoid it, he just didn’t because he’s an idiot. You don’t want your plans to rely on your enemy’s stupidity.
9. BB gun to the nuts/face
CON: Shooting the Wet Bandits through the doggy door requires Kevin to be in close proximity to people who wish to do him harm. If they, say, got pissed and just kicked in the door, he’d have been in a heap of trouble, as his child-sized legs could not have churned fast enough to escape two adults.
8. Ice on the stairs to the front door
This is the higher ranked stair icing for one simple reason: gravity. With the stairs to the basement, even after Marv wipes out and tumbles down them, he’s still right there at the door. (In pain, but there.) With the front steps, Harry slips and falls going up the stairs and ends up no closer to his intended destination. Much more effective.
Also, did you know the Wet Bandits’ full names were Harry Lime and Marv Merchants? LIME AND MERCHANTS. This changes nothing, technically. But it also changes so, so much.
7. Blowtorch to the head
My favorite part about this one is that if the much taller Marv had walked through that door instead of Harry the blowtorch would have burned his face off. Something to think about.
6. Nail on the tar-covered steps
This one is great because it’s a multi-step process. The tar on the lower steps takes his shoes and socks, leaving him vulnerable to the nail on the upper step. Well thought out and well executed.
5. The ol’ chop-the-rope-while-the-bad-guys-are-climbing-across-it trick
Should the Wet Bandits have seen this one coming? Yes. Would it have been quicker to run down the stairs and out the front door than try to shimmy their middle-aged bodies across a rope between a second-floor window and a treehouse? Probably. But Kevin ziplining across it on his bike handlebars moments earlier was cool as nuts, so number five it is.
4. Red-hot doorknob
Bonus points because the doorkob had the “M” engraved into it, leaving the mark permanently burned into his tormentor’s flesh. Quite literally adding insult to injury, thanks in no small part to the fact that Kevin’s dad was apparently the kind of rich asshole who looks at a doorknob when buying a house and says “I’m gonna put my name on that.” How borderline Trumpian of him.
3. Ornaments on the floor
Lacks the pizzazz of a blowtorch or daring rope-based acrobatics, but I love this one anyway because of all the levels at play. If someone comes through that window with shoes on, this is a big fat nothing of a trap. But if someone is coming in barefoot and injured because they had just lost their shoes in tar and stabbed their foot with a gross nail in a dirty basement, crunching glass into the wound is ruthless. My man put some thought into it.
2. Glue and feathers
Number two with a bullet because it’s done for no other reason than to embarrass. It inflicts no major damage, it barely slows him down, and it probably just made him even angrier. But Kevin did it anyway because, screw it, if you’re trying to rob his house you’re getting a crapload of feathers stuck to your face, you dick. I respect this greatly.
1. Paint cans on the stairs
In. The. Face.
IN. THE. FACE.
IN. THE. FACE.
It’s the little things, people.
Thanks to our own Chet Manley for the GIFs