WIRED TO KILL (aka BOOBY TRAP) (1986)
Directed by: Frances Shaeffer
Written: by: Frances Shaeffer
Starring: Emily Longsreth, Devin Hoelshcer, Tiny Lister & Merritt Butrick
It’s 1998. It’s the future y’all. Well it was the future back in 1986 when this flick was made. The world ain’t the place it used to be, gangs run rampant terrorizing the neighbourhood and most of the cast look like they have just stepped off the set of one of the Mad Max films. So much like the real 1998 was then! Once such gang led by the slimy but well read Reegus (Butrick) are out on the town all jacked up on drugs looking to terrorize. When the first fancy building they plan to rob and ransack proves difficult to break into the gang head to a less affluent neighbourhood looking for an easier target. They pick the abode of Steve (Hoelshcer) who lives with his mum and grandma and has invited his new girlfriend Rebecca (Longsreth) over for dinner. Reegus and his crew attack the family and leave poor Steve crippled. However, the gang didn't bank on Steve being a technical wiz who has built his own robot: a robot he quickly adapts to war mode. After a little recuperation and much crying, Steve and Rebecca devise a plan to make the gang pay for what they did: killer robot style!
Wired to Kill (or as it’s also awesomely known over here in the UK, Booby Trap) is a mixed bag. On the one hand a groovy slice of 80s low budget sci-fi action schlock with a funky killer robot, on the other it’s a little slow going and even a bit arty never reaching its robot bent-on-revenge potential. Frances Shaeffer (who also directed the equally schlockly futuristic cum arty sci-fi action flick Rising Storm) makes proceedings just a little bit too serious robbing the film of some its kids-use-a-robot-to-take-revenge fun. On second thoughts, a family being attacked in their home by a vicious gang and left scarred by it is a serious subject matter not to be made fun of and some kudos to the filmmaker for not making light of it. His teen characters seem shaken by the whole ordeal and refreshingly don’t turn into cliché action heroes instead using their brains and wits (and their robot) to outsmart the gang, and they always appear shaken by what they have experienced and are now having to do.
The gang are also genuinely threatening their grubby look, continuous drug induced state and the unpredictability of when they might attack adding requisite menace. The film has a dark, grimy, industrial look and feel differentiating it from many of post apocalyptic future action movies of the time and while there should have been way more robot killing action the little bot is put to good use come the finale. Low tech by today’s CGI obsessed tastes, it’s still kinda cool seeing an old school robot trundling around with its claw killing bad guys.
Its doesn’t quite live up to its title(s) or awesome video covers and a heap more robot action would have made it a lot better but Wired to Kill is still an interesting and mostly entertaining sci-fi action oddity worth seeking out if you can find an old VHS copy.