Tourist Trap (1979)

“Oh, this can’t be scary. Old movies aren’t scary like Insidious,” said my tween daughter as she entered the room just after the opening credits of Tourist Trap had finished. One minute and one mannequin appearance later, she bolted for the door.

I wouldn’t qualify Tourist Trap as scary, but several moments of it are extra-creepy and genuinely unsettling. Mannequins and dolls that suddenly, inexplicably move tend to be. This film’s killer even wears a mask that covers all but his lower jaw, which is also unnerving, especially since it makes him look like Leatherface (albeit the transvestite one from Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation).

The titular site refers to Slausen’s Lost Oasis, an off-the-beaten path, now-closed-to-the-public wax museum owned by the lonely widowed Mr. Slausen (The Rifleman‘s Chuck Connors, giving it his square-jawed all). A group of vacationing youngsters (including Tanya Roberts in a tube top) end up there after an irreparable tire strands them. Bet you know what happens from there. (And in case you don’t, then welcome to your first horror movie, and know that they’re terrorized by those things that department stores use to sell you the latest fashions.)

Directed by David Schmoeller (The Seduction, Puppet Master), this decent, semi-novel, inexplicably-PG supernatural slasher comes from the era when Charles Band productions not only didn’t suck, but actually played theaters. If you can remember those golden days of Ghoulies and Troll and this, congrats! You’re old. (Meet you for dinner at Furr’s at 4.) —Rod Lott

Buy it at Amazon.


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