Horror Club: Tourist Trap
Every major city throughout the world has them: tourist traps. The attractions that are designed to draw attention and pull a crowd to make money. The crazy thing about tourist traps is that they don't solely exist in major cities, they can exist in the strangest of places and places you'd never expect. In the classic horror flick Tourist Trap, deep in the heart of the desert lies an oasis complete with a dreamy waterfall that pours into a perfect little stream that is ideal for swimming. This oasis, however, belongs to a Mr. Slausen (Chuck Connors), who also happens to own a small museum complete with animatronic mannequins and wax figures - the real tourist trap of the film. As a group of friends are traveling down the deserted highway and one of the tires blows out in one of the two cars and the engine fails in the other, the group are forced to befriend Mr. Slausen who offers to help drive them back to his house - the museum - to grab his tools to help fix the jeep and get the kids back on the road. It is there that the girls of the film begin to notice the eerie, life-like nature of the mannequins that line the walls and floors of the museum. If you couldn't already guess, yep - this movie is about to take the creepy level of mannequins to a whole new level.
Mr. Slausen warns the girls to stay away from the house across the way - it belongs to a Davey Crockett and to be fair, he does strongly suggest the girls stay inside and mind their business. But what would a horror film be if the girls didn't enter the house (by breaking in through a second story window - I'm still not totally sure what the fuck they were thinking) and get themselves all mixed up with the sole resident: the dreaded Davey. The guys appearance alone - complete with haunting plaster mask - hides his identity for that extra creep factor. And wouldn't you know it, Davey is now after the group of friends who entered the tourist trap, and he wants them for his eternal collection!
The 1970s brought about some of the most iconic horror films of all time - The Exorcist, Halloween, Texas Chainsaw, Carrie - but one that just never seems to get listed among the greats of that era is the terrifying Tourist Trap of 1979! There are so many fucking legitimately terrorizing elements and scenes in this film that even watching it as a grown ass man, I'm still haunted by the mannequins who come to life through telekinesis by their master Davey. This film doesn't hold back when it comes to terrifying moving life size dolls: literally from beginning to end, you'll come across dozens upon dozens of life-like mannequins moving their eyes and mouths, rocking back and forth, and even fucking talking. If that doesn't sound chilling to you, you definitely haven't bore witness to Tourist Trap!! There is so much good about this film that even almost forty years later, it still stands up there with all of the great classics of its time. From the group of friends to the creepy yet charming Slausen to the madman Davey, the acting in this is sick; as the girls (and guy) are being chased around and essentially mummified alive in plaster, the look of terror and fear on their faces feels so real, so legitimate. Movies from this time period are totally either hit or miss with the "realness" factor - sometimes it feels so real and others it couldn't be further from reality - but besides the whole mannequins coming to life thing, the terror and bloodcurdling cries the girls belt out feels so real, it's awesome. Props has to be given for the terror element.
[Major spoiler ahead]
And of coarse, one of the most haunting, chilling, and downright fucked up scenes in the film belongs to a victim that wasn't even a part of the main group of friends that Tourist Trap follows. Another unsuspecting victim - Tina - happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when she gets abducted by Davey who locks her down to a table in the basement. With others watching, Davey begins to cover the poor girls face with plaster, creepily explaining to her what he was doing and how she was going to die. As he covered her eyelids, mouth, and nose with the plaster, he explains to her that she isn't about to die from suffocation, oh no, she was about to die from the anxiety and fear of what was happening and how it was going to cause her heart to explode. What the fuck. While far from violent or gory, this scene manages to capture the true evil and horror that dwells deep within Davey. It sure as hell scared me just as much as it scared Becky and Jerry - two members of the group - as they attempt to overtake Davey but fail. A truly fucked up scene that really adds that extra level of dark to the film.
While the plot is definitely predictable, as well as the ending and the big reveal, this film gets nothing but respect from me and will forever be a great watch. It doesn't need blood, guts, and gore to deliver on the terror front. Writer and director David Schmoeller (also known for directing Puppet Master) managed to capture that eerie feeling many people get as they pass mannequins in the malls and bring it to life on the big screen. Throw in the sicko fucko Davey and you have a recipe for nightmares. There was definitely room for a sequel to the film after how it leaves off, and it kinda sucks one was never made, but honestly maybe that's a good thing. I definitely can't recommend this one enough and like I said, it no doubt has to be included in the list of the greats, and for so many reasons. From the soundtrack and its haunting whispers to the moving mannequins to the madman himself, Tourist Trap rightfully deserves its spot as a classic cult film in the genre. And you can bet your ass I'll never step foot into a sketchy sideshow attraction after seeing this one!