DIRECTOR: David Schmoeller
J. Larry Carroll
Jon Van Ness
When a group of friends becomes stranded when their car breaks down. They met an older man by the name of Mr Slausen. He offers to help them fix their car. He invites them back to his house to grab his tools. Soon the group of friends realises that they are in lots of trouble and something is off when they arrive at his house and its filled with creepy and realistic mannequins.
Coming to the end of my seventies slasher retrospective. I was happy to finish with a movie such as Tourist Trap. This is one of those horror movies that I've always known about due to its creepy VHS cover but never actually seen. So to finally get to the end of the seventies and finish on such a mysterious film that has always been in the back of my mind. I was excited to witness it. I went into this one expecting a masked killer, but that was the extent of it. Boy did this one surprise me.
Going into Tourist Trap. I had no idea that this was a film that dealt with mannequins. I just thought it was a creepy masked killer movie. So when the movie began and we have that first death scene. I was immediately creeped out and put on edge. When a room full of eerie, lifelike mannequins come to life and objects in the room start flying around and end up impaling a guy. I was left a little surprised and shocked. Straight out of the gate, I was already enjoying this weird little oddity of a slasher.
Seeing this movie only now. I couldn't help but draw comparisons between Tourist Trap with House Of Wax and Psycho. An abandoned and once popular attraction that fell into obscurity and disrepair when a highway is built drawing traffic away from it. This, in turn, has left the brothers who own it with a business that no longer makes money and they've had to close it down. This movie felt so similar to House Of Wax that I have a feeling that the remake of House Of Wax took major chunks of Tourist Trap and paid homage to it.
While the story has beats that feel very similar to more current movies that I may have seen before this one. I can't deny that this tries to set itself apart from other slashers by delivering just a little bit more insanity and weirdness to all the horror proceedings. What we have here, is a movie that while giving us slasher elements tries to throw in a bit of the supernatural to keep audiences on their toes. Here we have a heaping of 'Carrie' like Telekinesis which feels like it tries to add something a little bit different to the slasher movie.
The biggest problem that Tourist Trap faces in trying to add Supernatural elements to the story is that they don't really ever work or get explained in the end. I can admire the attempt at giving us a masked serial killer who has the ability to kill with his mind and control things. But if you plan on doing that, try and explain how he has come to gain the ability or at least try and give us a reason. I'm all for leaving things up to an audience to question, but a dead wife and a failing business aren't enough to warrant complete lapses in logic and story.
When it comes to the killer reveal. I thought it was pretty predictable, to be honest. They try to throw the audience off with little hints that there is a brother character who was the creator of all the mannequins. A couple of red herrings are chucked into the ring but once the reveal takes place. We the audience are aware of what's going on straight away. It's never hard to guess who the bad guy is here. You won't be all that shocked or surprised come the reveal. Chuck Connors does deliver a pretty crazy performance that is worth highlighting.
The death scenes in Tourist Trap are actually pretty entertaining. The first death scene with the impaling is the standout here. The rest while not being violent or bloody still delivers on being utterly bonkers. A lot of death scenes feature mannequins and flying objects which only makes the scenes all the more strange. At times, I wasn't sure if what we were seeing was real or who was the killer. It's all a bit of a mindfuck here. Which is a reason why I think I enjoyed this movie even if at times, none of it really makes much sense when it comes to the narrative?
Lastly, it has to be mentioned that Tourist Trap delivers on its mood and atmosphere. This is a genuinely creepy film. Being that everything feels strange or odd, it elevates the creepiness. I don't think the movie has any jump out of your seat scares but you will be on edge with all the bizarre reveals of horrifying mannequins who start lunging forward or start laughing. I think what makes it work is that you never know if a real person is hiding behind these figures. It always keeps you guessing if this next reveal may be human or not. For that, I liked the tension.
DEATH TOLL: 6
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A man is impaled with a metal pole.
- A woman is choked to death with a scarf.
- A man is hit in the neck with an axe.
- A man's arm and head are pulled off and smashed on the ground.
- A woman is stabbed in the back of the head with a knife.
- A woman is suffocated when her face is covered in plaster.
Tourist Trap is not a perfect movie. The movie has several problems. We have some supernatural stuff that's added to the story which makes this film appear bonkers and weird but doesn't do much for the plot when it comes to logic or trying to explain said supernatural elements. What saves the movie is that we have a creepy setting, some great atmosphere, and some decent performances from the cast. If extremely creepy mannequins are your phobia, this movie should make you shit your pants.