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Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Tourist Trap (1979)




The Slasher marathon continues with a movie that I only sort of consider a slasher. There is a cool killer in a mask, a bevy of lovely young ladies to terrorize, and some deaths. So yeah, I guess it is a Slasher movie. Time to talk about Tourist Trap. I must warn you all that there are spoilers below!

Woody has a flat tire and a spare with no air. He rolls the empty down the road until he finds a filling station. It appears deserted until he hears some noises. This leads him to a room where mannequins come to life and stuff starts to fly around. Eventually he meets a grisly end with a pipe thru the back. Well something clearly isn’t right here! Then we see a Jeep (actually a sweet V.W. Thing!) pull up and pick up Woody’s girlfriend. She had been waiting for him to return. They head off looking for him only to have their car break down as well. Terrible luck!

Soon a nice man, Mr. Slauson, comes along and helps them. He eyes the girls who were skinny dipping and has a creepy wax museum, but I’m sure he a decent guy. Turns out he isn’t as one by one the kids get picked off by a masked man who we are lead to believe is Slausen’s brother. Yeah sure that is what is happening. Finally, we are left with on young lady named Molly who is chased, terrified, and pretty much destroyed. But she does live so there is that.

I like Tourist Trap, but it can be an acquired taste. If you jump into this one with the idea that it is going to be a traditional Slasher movie you will be disappointed. While it has many elements of the traditional slasher with the masked killer, plenty of stalking and killing it also has some unique twists that can be confusing until you realize what is going on. The masked killer here does dispatch people with knives, scarves, and pipes but he uses telekinesis to do so. He also animates the mannequins with his mind so that they will attack or interact with the other characters. Sometimes he even brings the dead back to life or at least animates mannequins who look just like them. It gets confusing but is fun.

This one gets creepy... real creepy!
Chuck Connors chews up the scenery as Mr. Slauson. He is at times very kind and at other times creepy as hell. In my opinion this is the best role that he had in his career. Okay I’m a big horror nerd so that probably means I lean towards those movies. But still he is great in Tourist Trap and his scenes are the best in the movie. Unlike many horror flicks “starring” big names this time Connors really is the star and deserves top billing.

The kills are very tame. Pretty much nothing of note happens on screen at all. There is an axe to the throat and a pipe runs Woody thru. That is about all you get. This movie is more about the scares which are plentiful. And of course, there is the “What the hell is going on” aspect to the movie that I think plays very well. This is an odd and quirky flick. Bob Burns, who did the Texas Chainsaw set design, does the same here and it is amazing. The movie is so odd looking in a naturally cluttered way. Much like with Chainsaw it feels like I’m looking at a place where an actual disturbed person lives and not someone’s idea of it. Burns was an amazing dude and a real artist.

Horror fans either love this movie or hate it. I’m going to recommend Tourist Trap because I enjoy it. If you watch it and fall into the “hated it” side I’m sorry that you suck as a human being! Well okay you don’t suck, but we shall have to agree to disagree. Everyone needs to give Tourist Trap a chance.


© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer

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