TOURIST TRAP (promotional artwork)
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TOURIST TRAP
(1979)
(aka NIGHTMARE OF TERROR)

3 and a half stars   feisty fromage!

directed by: David Schmoeller
starring:Chuck Connors, Jocelyn Jones, Jon Van Ness, Tanya Roberts, Robin Sherwood, Keith McDermott

(back of video blurb):
       "Horrific thrills abound in this grisly tale of a group of youngsters and their fatal fascination with a madman and his dolls.

       A group of unsuspecting friends happen upon a novelty in the desert, SLAUSEN'S LOST OASIS, a curious and eerie roadside museum. This goldmine of decaying, but strangely life-like mannequins is run by Slausen (Chuck Conners), an eccentric, but seemingly harmless has-been. Slausen has one warning for the youngsters: Stay away from Davey, Slausen's reclusive and disturbed brother.

       The youngsters' curiousity gets the best of them and they go exploring. The trap is sprung! Amidst flying objects, slamming doors, scarves that strangle on their own, empowered by some hidden force, the trap slowly closes in on the group. The "Creature" Davey and his army of murderous mannequins make quick and brutal work of the friends, until only one remains.

       Incredible psychic powers are unleashed as all the dolls are brought to life in an attempt to bring a nightmarish end to the final victim in this, the most deadly TOURIST TRAP!"    (Thanks to Tony)

choice dialogue:

"It will be quick but it won't be easy.... you'll die of fright!"

slash with panache?

       Spooky!...A quasi-surreal film with a genuinely nightmarish feel.

       TOURIST TRAP is an oddity- in more ways than one. It makes references to more genre films than you shake a shitty stick at but, somewhat surprisingly, actually turns its magpie nature to its advantage. The familiarity of much of the material pleasingly jars with some more of the off-the-wall stuff on show here.

       Five teenagers find themselves out in the middle of nowhere after one of their jeeps develops trouble. One of the group takes a punctured wheel in search of a local garage only to stumble across what appears to be a deserted wax museum. He becomes trapped inside and finds himself surrounded by hysterical laughter- from the previously inanimate figures, and under attack from a barrage of flying household objects- (a scene which is strongly reminiscent of Sam Raimiís later EVIL DEAD films). After he fails to return the others go looking for him- one of the teenagers, Molly, is clearly earmarked as the virginal final-girl, mainly because of her demure and dazzlingly white attire and the fact that the other two girls are wearing hotpants!...They come across what appears to be a veritable oasis in the dusty countryside- a bubbling brook, where (naturally) the girls decide to take a skinny-dip. Soon they realise that someone is watching them, that someone being Chuck Connors (in scenery-chewingly fine form). It turns out that he is the proprietor of the wax museum, but he doesnít get too many visitors these days with the new highway and all- that old chestnut! He invites the friends up to the wax museum where they hope they will be able to use the phone. Left alone by Connors they do what characters in these type of films do best- they split up. But not all is what it seems at the tourist trap.....

       Although TOURIST TRAP is not exactly your bone fide slasher movie it does borrow several of HALLOWEENís elements- not least of all the mask wearing murderer, whose face is obscured by a variety of pale wax death masks which loom from the darkness. Also thrown into the bizarre melting pot are references from THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974), HALLOWEEN (1978), CARRIE (1976), HOUSE OF WAX (1953), REPULSION (1965) and even Jean Cocteauís surrealist fairy tale LA BELLE, E LA BETTE (1946). The seemingly telekinetic abilities of the killer to lock bolts and animate the wax dummies, albeit borrowed mainly from Brian De Plamaís film, is used to great effect. Perhaps the scariest thing about this movie are the mannequins, which are admittedly scary enough to start off with, but are rally spooky here. The film succeeds despite, or perhaps because of, an obviously meagre budget. These wax figures are blatantly plastic shop dummies- but this only goes to serve as even more eerie when their eyes move with an incredible human naturalness. The wax museum and all the surrounding buildings are crowded with these inanimate effigies, frozen in a perverse rigor mortis- which, at any moment, may suddenly lunge forward or begin to laugh hysterically and mockingly. The director fills the film with disturbing and surreal images- conjuring up a convincing and terrifying nightmare landscape where escape seems impossible and nothing is what it seems. Despite this TOURIST TRAP still manages to keep one foot in reality and rarely descends into wilful abstraction.

       All in all a diverting and unusually perverse entry into the sub-genre.


BODYCOUNT 6  bodycount!   female:3 / male:3

       1) Male teen impaled on lead piping
       2) Female teen strangled with neck scarf
       3) Female teen dies whilst being suffocated with molten wax!
       4) Female teen killed when she is hit by a spinning tomahawk
       5) Male teen killed (method unseen)
       6) Male receives axe wound to the neck

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