Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tourist Trap (1979)

Tourist Trap

Written by David Schmoeller & J. Larry Carroll
Directed by David Schmoeller

Molly...Jocelyn Jones
Jerry...John Van Ness
Eileen...Robin Sherwood
Becky...Tanya Roberts
Mr. Slausen...Chuck Connors

When their friend Woody goes missing while looking for a service station to repair his flat tire, four city slickers--law student Jerry, his sexy and scantily clad wife Becky, adventurous Eileen, and virginal goodie-goodie Molly--track him to a closed down tourist trap called Slausen's Lost Oasis. There, Woody's trail turns cold and the foursome experience mysterious mechanical difficulties of their own.

Stranded, they become the guest of the Lost Oasis's strange but kindly owner, Mr. Slausen, who lives alone on the property with his plethora of life-like mannequins and wax figures.

This tourist trap turns out to be more of a trap than most, as the city kids are hunted down by a psychopath in a mask who threatens to turn them into dummies to be put on display.

Mannequins are inherently creepy, like red headed children and used car salesmen, and so this movie is rife with creepy moments, although short on outright scares. The acting is typically run-of-the-mill, except for Chuck Connors as Slausen, who did a pretty outstanding job. The musical scoring is often times bizarre, and doesn't always work, but that's pretty easy to look past. The women, on the other hand, demand an eye be kept on them. They are all beautiful, but despite a skinny-dipping scene only 13 minutes in, never actually "bare it all" (which, for a low-budget picture of this era is fairly rare, making it equal parts commendable and disappointing).

The mannequin-faced killer was actually pretty disturbing, especially when he gets all gussied up and looks like a Bizarro version of Robert Goulet. If Leatherface and Carrie White swapped fluids to make a bastard baby boy, this fella could quite likely be the result.

A sufficiently spooky and twisted little tale that manages to not come off as too dated...despite the fact it is well past it's sell-by date.

View the trailer below!

Rated PG
90 Minutes
United States

"We're going to have a party!"

HorrorBlips: vote it up!


  1. Horror movies that are rated PG always make me feel like they are not going to be all that "scary".

    I wonder why this movie is simply PG, is it that the violence is suggested and not graphic in nature? Or is it just a really silly horror movie? Or maybe just a horror movie that focuses on suspense and building up the moment?

  2. David Schmoeller talks about the PG rating on the commentary. First of all, if this was made anytime after 1988, it would easily have been at least PG13 but at the time, the rating didn't exist. Tourist Trap has plenty of violence--a knife in the back, strangulation, terribly disturbing death-by-plaster-on-face--but there just isn't that much blood, mostly due to the nature of the kills. According to Schmoeller, the skinny dipping was scripted with nudity but when he actually started filming the scene, he was a little too shy to convince the girls into getting naked and that was that. (This was his first film.)

    I actually think this is an excellent film, one of the best I watched last year. It's not gory, but the kills are so strange and some of the stuff that happens--the laughing mannequins, suffocation death, the villain's voice--are just so DAMN CREEPY. It reallllly gets under my skin.

    I can see someone not being overwhelmed by it, but Film Connoisseur, don't avoid it due to the rating. Sadly the PG probably hurt its box office, which is why this isn't that well known a film, but it's a really unique and effective little horror.

    And Jonny, you couldn't be more correct about mannequins, used car salesmen, and redheaded children. Imagine if all three mated!


  3. @ FC - kinda to reiterate what Emily says, don't be fooled by the PG. This is a serious horror film, and while it doesn't have buckets o' gore, it's still an EXCELLENT heavy-duty creep show that combines the "backwoods psycho" motif with the "telekinetic superpowers used for evil/vengeance" angle, coming up with an original, quirky, mean-spirited, macabre, and occasionally darkly humorous little nightmare.

    One of my all-time faves, great pick, J!

  4. It really is an underappreciated little gem, but more and more it seems to be popping up all over again. The mannequins still haunt my dreams

  5. I love any love for Tourist Trap. It's a childhood favorite and caused me to have a crazy fear of mannequins for much of my life. While it scares me, I wouldn't say it's really scary, so much as it's incredibly creepy and very effective. even the quirkiness of the film adds to that creepiness a little in a way. Glad you dug it, Jonny!


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