Trapped (1973, directed by Frank De Felitta)


Chuck Brenner (James Brolin) is out shopping when he’s mugged and left unconscious in a men’s room stall.  By the time Chuck wakes up, the store is closed for the weekend and the place is deserted except for him and six doberman guard dogs.  The dogs are trained to hunt down and attack anyone who shouldn’t be in the store and, as far as they’re concerned, that includes Chuck.  Chuck now has to survive the night and try to figure out a way to get out of the store.  Not helping is that Chuck still hasn’t recovered from taking a blow to the head and he’s been bitten by one of the dogs, leaving a blood trail for them to follow.

This made-for-TV movie is a simple but effective thriller about an ordinary man trapped in an extremely dangerous situation.  Frank De Felitta (who would later direct one of my favorite made-for-tv horror film, The Dark Night of the Scarecrow) does a good job of creating suspense as Chuck tries to make it from one area of the department store to the next without getting attacked.  (One of the best scenes involves Chuck, dizzy because he has a concussion, jumping from one cabinet to another while the dogs wait below him.)  Even dog lovers will become nervous as the dobermans prowl the aisles, looking for their prey.  James Brolin gives a good everyman performance and he’s ably supported by Susan Clark as his ex-wife and Earl Holliman as Clark’s new husband.  The film is so well-executed that it was only after it ended that I started to wonder why any store would leave six dog unsupervised in their store overnight.  Just the effort that would have to be made to clean up after them would cancel out whatever money was being saved by not using a human security guard.

Trapped has been released under several titles, the best known of which is The Dobermn Patrol.  My personal favorite, though, is Danger Doberman!

3 responses to “Trapped (1973, directed by Frank De Felitta)

  1. Pingback: Lisa’s Week In Review: 8/17/20 — 8/23/20 | Through the Shattered Lens

  2. I remember seeing that film on TV when it came out. I’m pretty sure that it was based on actual security practices at the time (leaving trained guard dogs unsupervised in a business overnight) but not a real event.

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  3. When I was young many years ago, a good-sized mall had roped off one section of the mall where the movie theaters were to allow those who were at the movies free access to the one set of doors leading to the outside. The dogs were trained not to go after anybody on the other side of the roped area. If you were anywhere in the mall, you were fair game. The mall had interior corridors between the stores that led to the outside, but those weren’t accessible to the dogs as they had doors that opened into the mall itself. I know dog owners who train their dogs to do their business on papers and I expect that’s what the dog company did with these dogs.

    I never heard a report of the dogs catching anybody, but they had signs posted on the doors letting people know dogs monitored the mall at night.

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