Classics

[Movie Review] Tourist Trap (1979) ★★★★☆

Davey/Mr Slausen

Tourist Trap turns a summers day out into a nightmare full of creepy mannequins.


Tourist Trap is a typical seventies horror slasher but with a supernatural twist. It’s a typical slasher wherein the crazy masked serial killer is after a couple of young people who are having fun during the summer. This results in some pretty cliched scenes, with the typical outgoing youth and one careful decent girl, but with a creepy original concept. Those of you who get especially the creeps of mannequins and masks and dolls, then Tourist Trap will be extra scary. It’s maybe not the best seventies slasher out there, but definitely one to watch, and wait for the crazy sensational ending. 


Plot

Five young people, Woody, Eileen, Jerry, Becky and Molly are on a summer trip having fun. When their car brakes down they even try to make the best of it and take a swim in a lake, but they are being watched by a strange man. This man, Mr Slausen warns them to get out of here before it gets dark. It is a sinister ominous warning, that is being ignored, but he is so kind to take them to his museum where mechanical mannequins are exhibited. While this is odd and a bit creepy the big abandoned mansion across the road is even creepier. And Mr Slausen warns them not to go in there. So what do they do to while they’re waiting for help…


Why you should watch it

Tourist Trap starts out very cliched. Girls swimming naked, boys trying to fix the car and getting help and an older man who warns them. All forebodings that are being ignored to create a horror that sets in when night falls. 

When darkness falls, the horror comes to life, and so do the creepy looking mannequins. While the five friends are the potential victims, they share the focus with the killer himself. How he operates, kills and what comes after is very sinister and graphic, in at least one scene. He’s absolutely not your average killer and it turns this film into something really weird. Why he kills is even more sinister and scary and although it seems easy to guess who the killer is, there’s a little twist that will surprise you. 

It all leads to a bizarre ending that feels very different from the rest of the film, but stands out all the more. It’s creepy, surreal and full of mystery and necromancy that will certainly give you some chills. It ends with weird macabre madness and with a great last shot. 

Tourist Trap starts out as a standard slasher but slowly turns into a supernatural horror with a mystical atmosphere. The buildup goes from cliche, to suggestion, to the ultimate horror and reveals what really is going on, which is as sinister as it is horrifying. Although this film doesn’t stand out with great shots, or a tense buildup in atmosphere, or great music, the concept certainly makes up for that. 

This film is not what it seems to be, nor is the killer. The mannequins in the museum and in the mansion are truly creepy and the mask the killer is wearing is even creepier. The mannequin’s soft sighs are really adding to an unsettling atmosphere and it makes you wander if the mannequins really do come to life, or if it’s a trick of the mind. 

It’s a film that mixes supernatural mystical elements with slasher madness and fear, and with mystery while first disguised as a common horror slasher. The kills are graphic but not too gory, the killer is insane but able to explain why he does what he does. The characters are stereotypes, but not all that stupid, still some are too stubborn to ignore warnings that result in a nightmarish night. It’s enough to distinguish itself from other slashers and the supernatural touch makes it all the more interesting and entertaining. 


My favorite part

The ending was brilliant. I can’t say much about it, because I don’t want to spoil anything, but it was totally bonkers. Although it maybe doesn’t suit the rest of the film, it raised the film to a new level of weirdness and insanity. It was everything you wouldn’t have expected and it was greatly done. This unforgettable finale ensures that this film transcends a standard cliched slasher and is a must-see for horror fans. I also love some good creepy dolls and mannequins to create an eerie evil atmosphere, so that box is ticked as well.


Ratings

Rating: ★★★★☆

Scare factor: ★★★☆☆

Gore factor: ★★★☆☆

Popcorn factor: ★★★★★

Gruesome factor: ★★★★☆

Originality factor: ★★★★☆


Cast and crew

Tourist Trap is directed and written by David Schmoeller and cowritten by J. Larry Carroll. It stars Chuck Connors (Mr. Slausen), Jocelyn Jones (Molly), Jon Van Ness (Jerry), Robin Sherwood (Eileen), Tanya Roberts (Becky), Dawn Jeffory (Tina), Keith McDermott (Woody)  and Shailar Coby (Davey).

Duration: 90 minutes. Music: Pino Donaggio. Cinematography: Nicholas Josef von Sternberg. Edited by: Ted Nicolaou. Produced by: J. Larry Carroll. Production company: Charles Band Productions. Distributed by: Compass International Pictures, Manson International Pictures.


Check the trailer below


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