I have a hard time writing this review, because I'm listening to David Bowie's new song The Stars (Are Out Tonight), which like the first song from the new album, Where Are We Now?, just is plain brilliant. In my humble opinion of course, but I'm a Bowie fan since my father brainwashed me with his music during the eighties (which might explain my spoft spot for later music, not so much a fan of his 70's work). At the same time I see Josh Brolin in front of me, from Planet Terror, a grumpy old bastard - and how much he looks like his father James in Trapped.
Ah, just writing about Bowie made it easier to continue. So read on baby, read on.
The story is simple, but it's packed with nice ideas that makes everything much more tense. James Brolin, looking better than ever, is robbed visiting the toilet at a big department store - where he is to buy a doll for his daughter - and left there after closing time. The store as six dangerous dogs - five of them Dobermans - guarding the place and they are both angry and (it seems) quite hungry! Now he has to get down to the ground floor and get help!
Yeah, the story is so damn simple, but writer (also director) Frank De Felitta has fun with the concept and gives Brolin (or Chuck Brenner, as his name is in the movie) more problems than he asked for. First of all, he has a concusion, which means he has a terrible headache and feels violently dizzy - and that in combination with angry dogs makes it even harder to survive. During the first dog attack he also gets bitten in the leg and he can't top the blood! It's a pale an dizzy Brolin we see getting from floor to floor with a new killer dog on each one of them.
But he's not alone. De Felitta introduces Brenner's ex-wife early on, and her new husband, and this is where it gets really interesting: the new husband is the one who gets worried about Chuck, while the ex-wife is dismissive about the whole thing. Between these two characters (played by Susan Clark and Earl Holliman, both fantastic in their parts!) there's also an ongoing quarrel, and they're analyzing their relationship at the same time without even hinting that they will breake up and Susan and James will fall in love again.
I'm not sure you understand what I mean, but there's a realistic, non-clichéd sub-story here, which I've rarely seen in any TV-movie before. A nice surprise.
This isn't the only dog-movie made during the 70's. The best one is Robert Clouse's The Pack, Day of the Animals has a good part with killer dogs, Devil Dog is fantastic cheese, Dogs is a movie I haven't seen yet - but I will, I promise. I still claim that The Pack was remade as the surprisingly decent DTV movie The Breed in 2006. Dogs is a good animal for this kind of movies. The dogs in Trapped behaves like dangerous guard dogs and the attacks is very effective and well-done. Sometimes you see their waving and happy tails, obviously enjoying chasing James Brolin around (who doesn't?).
Trapped is a damn good Movie of the Week, combining tension with believable melodrama. And dogs. And James Brolin with an unbuttoned shirt. Nice.