About a year or so ago, Brandon sent me a movie trailer for Tourist Trap, and it was one of the most bizarre film trailers I ever laid eyes on. From watching the trailer, I assumed the film would be about a group of teens that were being terrorized by cackling mannequins. I was finally able to get my hands on a copy, and it turns out that my assumption was, for the most part, correct.
Interestingly enough, it turns out that the film’s director, David Schmoeller, directed Puppet Master. I guess he couldn’t get enough of killer dolls, so he moved from killer mannequins to killer puppets. Charles Band (the mastermind behind the Puppet Master franchise) actually went on to produce several of Schmoeller’s films and was the executive producer for Tourist Trap. What a dynamic duo! I also found out that he directed one of my all-time favorite thrillers, The Seduction (1972), which is basically a trashy Lifetime-like film starring Morgan Fairchild.
Schmoeller’s Tourist Trap is truly a one-of-a-kind horror film that is able to be legitimately terrifying without losing its campy qualities. The film follows a group of teens that find themselves stranded in, well, a tourist trap after they encounter some mysterious car problems. Mr. Slausen (Chuck Connors) is the owner of the tourist trap, which is called Slausen’s Lost Oasis. It includes a swimming hole and an old, rinky-dink museum filled with junky mannequins of cowboys and Indians. He brings the teens to the museum and offers to assist them with fixing their broken down vehicle. He leaves the girls, Eileen (Robin Sherwood), Becky (Tanya Roberts), and Molly (Jocelyn Jones) at the museum and heads out with Jerry (Jon Van Ness) to fix the car. Before Slausen heads out with Jerry, he tells the girls to not leave the museum. Eileen notices this huge, gorgeous house behind the museum and decides to ignore Slausen’s warning.
Eileen enters the home and finds that it’s full of creepy mannequins. When I say full, I mean it is seriously packed with all types of mannequins. It doesn’t take long for her to encounter the house’s owner, Slausen’s mysterious brother, Davey. He wears a fleshy doll-like mask that is so terrifying that it will haunt your dreams forever. He actually reminds me of Leatherface from the classic horror film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, except he’s a million times creepier because he has special powers (similar to telekinesis) that he uses to murder folks and bring his mannequins to life. He uses his powers to strangle Eileen with her own scarf, and then he turns her into one of his mannequins. It’s not long before Becky and Molly head out to find Eileen and get their time with this psychotic villain. Davey has one of the most disturbing voices I’ve ever heard. It’s sort of like a heavy smoker that talks like a demonic child. There’s a scene when he’s chasing Molly with one of his possessed mannequin heads, and he’s screaming “See my friend?” or something like that (I can’t remember the exact words). This was probably one of the most memorable parts of the film for me because it was funny, scary, and confusing all at the same time.
There’s also a really wacky twist about halfway through the film that caught me off guard. I won’t spoil it for anyone interested in watching this film, but I have to say that it’s better than anything M. Knight Shyamalan could ever pull off.
Tourist Trap instantly became one of my favorite horror films of all-time. I literally got goosebumps several times throughout the film, and I’m not one who gets scared easily. I highly recommend Tourist Trap for anyone remotely disturbed by mannequins or psychopaths.