Six months ago (give or take), I decided to use the magic of the internet to watch all the classic horror movies I missed. The Universal movies (Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf-Man), Alien (1979), The Thing (1982), and…whatever others I didn’t catch.
Yeah. That didn’t happen. Perhaps naturally, I veered off the rails and found myself devouring obscure B-movies from the seventies and eighties, mainly generic slasher films. Basically, I’ve spent the past half year watching a lot of dreck. But good dreck. And, occasionally, I’ll land on an all-around masterpiece. What follows is my attempt to review the movies I’ve seen. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
You’ve seen ‘em, I’ve seen ‘em. All along America’s highways, they lie in wait, using dark magic (and advertising) to lure unsuspecting travelers into their yawning maws. They’re tourist traps. They sell trinkets and souvenirs, or offer a glimpse at The World’s Biggest Pumpkin (NEXT LEFT!). You usually see the first signs for them fifteen or twenty or even thirty miles out. By the time you reach them, you’re so amped you just have to stop.
Then you’re disappointed. That pumpkin is whack and the junk in the gift shop looks ugly. Ugh.
Just be glad you missed Slausen’s Roadside Shitshow. That place sucks.
See…I’m at a loss for words here. How do I describe Tourist Trap? It’s like Carrie meets Psycho meets The Texas Chainsaw Massacre meets Motel Hell. A group of friends break down near an abandoned tourist trap (get it?) inhabited by a dotty old farmer named Slausen (Chuck Connors). Before long, our heroes are trapped in a house crammed with mannequins and stalked by a deranged killed in a creepy doll’s face mask. The killer is Slausen’s whacked out brother Davy, who displays bizarre mental powers: He moves things with his mind and literally brings mannequins to life. Not like he turns them into people or anything, no, they’re still mannequins, but they’re alive. Trust me, it’s an unnerving sight to see.
Anyway, in a twist that you might see coming a mile away (I did), Slausen is revealed to be Davy, and steals away one of the surviving women to make his bride. In a display of his powers, he turns a mannequin into a real woman and breathes life into some creepy killer doll or something. I don’t know. I was too busy being astounded. Busy showing off, he doesn’t see his captive going for an ax…
Tourist Trap is a genuinely suspenseful film with some legitimately unnerving scenes, such as a group of mannequins, their mouths opening and closing in a breathy chours of the damned, looming over a fallen and terrified woman. The killer’s mask is high octane nightmare fuel. Connors plays his part as the psychotic telekinetic with gusto, at one point sitting in a chair and laughing merrily as a George Custer automaton fires live ammunition at a victim attempting to duck and hide. As a twenty-five year old man, I wasn’t in the least bit scared, but had I seen this movie as a kid, I probably would have pissed myself.
Speaking of kids, Tourist Trap is almost entirely devoid of blood and gore and, despite the disturbing subject matter, secured a PG rating, so the whole family can enjoy.
Tourist Trap is a bizarre, must-watch gem. Five middle fingers.