June 12, 2013
Chuck Connors and Tanya
I am a big fan of low budget horror movies from the
70's. There is just something about most of them that is so
earnest, that is so authentic, that is so unpolished, that in a lot of
cases when you watch them they really don't even feel like they are
"movies." A lot of times it feels like the director
just randomly stumbled onto a snuff film and he decided to film it.
Um, can I borrow a cup of death?
Well, Tourist Trap is a PERFECT example of that description.
Because this one doesn't feel like a movie. This
one feels like the director just was driving down the road with a bunch
of his friends one day, and they ran across a haunted house.
And they decided to go inside and film what happened.
It is so unpolished, and so unglossy, and the actors are so
obviously amateurs, that it just jumps out at me as the type
of atmospheric little 70's creepfest that I absolutely love.
Unfortunately, it is also a movie that most people have never heard of
Hi. Enjoy your nightmares.
Tourist Trap is the story of five young people who are out
driving through the countryside one fine summer day, and they run into
some car problems. Their car breaks down in the middle of
nowhere. So they have to walk down the road to the nearest
town to get some help.
Naturally, the first place they run into is an attraction located in
the middle of nowhere called "Slausen's Lost Oasis."
Run by this man, Mr. Slausen (Chuck Connors)
Now, Slausen's Lost Oasis is a quirky little place. Because
on one hand, it is an inn. This is someplace the kids can
spend the night if they can't get assistance with their car.
This is someplace they can hang out, they can get a bite to
eat, they can go swimming down in the pond. For all intents
and purposes, this is the perfect little place if you need to crash
somewhere in an emergency and spend the night.
But on the other hand, it is also a museum.
A very... quirky... museum.
You see, Mr. Slausen has created thousands of mannequins. And
they are located everywhere.
If you can guess where the movie is going from here, well you got it.
The kids are about to be trapped in a house of horrors.
Where they are stalked all night by creepy people in masks
and hundreds of living mannequins. Who want nothing more than to make
sure they stay here and join them as mannequins forever.
You see, if you use Slausen's special technique, you can
become a mannequin too!
See, right off the bat, I can tell you that this movie will be too
creepy for most of the people who are reading this review.
Because that's what it is. It is just plain fucking
creepy. It will get under your skin.
Because I can think of few things that are more
unnerving in life than the image of mannequins whose eyes move and
whose jaws will gape open and groan at you.
Don't believe me? Well take a look at this little montage of
nightmare fuel. Just imagine the following pictures a hundred
different times jumping out at you randomly during a horror movie:
Now, Tourist Trap is not a flawless movie. I don't
want to sit here and rave that it is the single scariest movie of all
time, because it isn't. In fact, truth be told, it really
isn't even all that good. I remember the first time I saw it,
I was a little disappointed because it didn't come anywhere near the
hype that you will hear if you read about it on other horror
review sites. The big problem with the movie is that it falls
into the standard horror movie trap of "one person goes into a place he
shouldn't, and bad things happen. And then five minutes later
we just repeat it with a different character." As the movie
goes along it gets kind of tedious because the pacing is all off.
However, after you watch the movie once, you will turn off the DVD
player, and you will think about it. And that is the thing.
Most horror movies don't have that. But Tourist
Trap does. It has a way of worming its way under your skin
and burrowing into your memory.
And then the next time you are driving down a country road, and you see
an old abandoned building on your right, you will think about it.
And you will be creeped out.
And you will remember the mannequins.
That is the ultimate compliment I can give to a horror movie.
You will remember it later. And that is
exactly why I recommend Tourist Trap. You might not think it
is all that amazing at the time. You might think it is kind
of weird and slow and goofy when you are watching it. But you
will most certainly remember it.
Oh, you will most certainly remember it.
Hi, wanna play?
By the way, three quick pieces of trivia about Tourist Trap before I
First off, it stars one of the hottest actresses of the 70's and 80's,
Tanya Roberts. Yes, before she was one of Charlie's Angels,
before she was in Beastmaster, before she was a Bond Girl in A View To
A Kill, she played "the hot girl" in Tourist Trap. And of
course there could not be a more appropriate costume for "a girl in a
1979 horror movie" than cutoffs and a halter top.
No Mr. Bond, I expect you to wank
Okay, second bit of trivia. And this is a fun one.
This is apparently Stephen King's all time favorite horror
Don't believe me? Well go read his book "Danse Macabre", and
look for the part where he talks about the movies that scared him the
most growing up. And then watch him practically orgasm when
he gets to write about Tourist Trap. Suffice it to say, he
LOVES this movie. In fact it wouldn't be a stretch to say
that the only reason you are reading a review of Tourist Trap in the
year 2013 is because Stephen King kept the memory of it alive for 25
years after it was released. Had Stephen King not
single-handedly hyped this movie and inspired millions of people to
seek it out and watch it for themselves, it would have been lost to
history like so many other obscure little horror movies that came out
in the 70's and 80's and were quickly forgotten.
Also, be sure to drink Dr. Pepper
Okay and now we come to my favorite bit of trivia about Tourist Trap.
And this one is going to blow your mind.
You know how I said this movie is creepy as hell and it will get under
your skin? You know how I insinuated that it involves murder
and death and people being torn apart by mannequins and perhaps being
suffocated by being turned into plastic? You know how it sounds like a
horrible atmospheric torture fest that you would
never show to your grandma or your kids?
Well get this. This movie isn't graphic or bloody at all.
It is actually rated PG.
That's right. It is possible to be creepy and not even get an
And so there you go. Tourist Trap. One of the more
obscure entries on my "200 Movies That Deserve More Love" countdown,
and one that I hope everyone gets to experience at least once in their
lifetime. It's not the greatest movie in the world.
It isn't even the scariest movie in the world. But
it sure is a creepy one. And come on, it's a PG rated horror
movie! How many of those have you seen in your life?
You have Tanya Roberts walking around the entire movie in a
tiny little halter top, and it never comes off. It doesn't
even come close! If nothing else you have to appreciate the
restraint that went into directing a movie like that.
Tanya Roberts and Nellie Oleson wonder if Pa is back from the market
P.S. Oh and I can't finish my writeup without including this
paragraph from a different review of Tourist Trap. This one
nails the magic of this movie in four sentences. Enjoy.
of the dolls and dummies is what really gets under my skin in "Tourist
Trap". They're built so that their mouths do this hideous
thing where they drop open obscenely and either scream or
sigh. Sometimes they're clearly actors underneath costumes,
and other times they're distinctly inhuman. I'm not sure
which ones bother me more.
Every Year Young People Disappear.
favorite IMDB user reviews about Tourist Trap:
Where have YOU been,
little movie!? - 3 February 2012
funny.....you get to middle-age....you have amassed a huge DVD
collection, heavy on horror, particularly the 50's through the 80's,
and you think you have seen all the "A-list" stuff. All you're trying
to do now is round out the collection with obscure "B" and "C" list
films....maybe some TV movies. Then, you see "Tourist Trap", and you
think 'how did I miss this film?', which could easily be discussed in
the same breath with Halloween, Nightmare on Elm St. and Creepshow.
is a great, fun, scary movie. It helps that mannequins are naturally a
bit creepy, being so life-like. I recall that excellent Twilight Zone
episode with Anne Francis, with the mannequins moving in the department
store. Tourist Trap has a big scare scene very early on, which could
have been too much, too soon, but it really worked, and set the
unnerving tone that the rest of the film continues. It made me realize
how long it's been since I 'jumped' because of an unexpected scene in a
Tanya Roberts was very good in this -- much better
than she was as "Sheena" a few years later. The gore is not excessive
for the sake of titillation, and the tension is unrelenting. The
ghastly images of the mannequin mouths dropping so far open, and the
screams coming out, will stay burned in my mind for a long time to
One Creepy Obscure
Attraction that deserves more Attention - 9 January 2010
one of the first slasher film that came out after Halloween (Although
made from Irwin Yabalans from Halloween), I must say I honestly found
"Tourist Trap" to be scarier and funner. "Tourist Trap" is one of those
remarkable treats you find every now and then, and are left with the
most enjoyable feeling of surprise. It was destiny I tell you, but one
night I was at my local Blockbuster (One or Two months before it went
out of business), and had nothing to get. Then I stumble upon this
movie, I think huh seems like a laughable B-Movie, I rent it and took
it home, boy was I in for a good scare. "Tourist Trap" comes off as a
bad movie, it definitely has it's cheesy moments,but in the end you're
having to much fun with it to really care.
The things that
impressed me the absolute most, and the things that made this movie one
of the scariest ones I've seen, is number one the setting. A horror
movie without a good setting isn't very fun, not here. I just love love
love the location, it feels like we can relate to it, it almost feels
like we've been there before. Which makes it creepier. Next is the
characters, non of them are really stereotypical, and they all have a
real personality. For example they're not stoners, alcoholics, or even
Sex obsessed people, they feel like normal young adults. Plus they look
realistic enough, and then their is Chuck Connors. Who gives a great
performance as Mr. Slausen who we all take an instant liking too
because again he's so real, he feels like that nice guy grandfatherly
figure we adore. The last, and probably most important thing that makes
this movie scary is how they make us (the audience) jump half way out
of our seats, and turn on the rights, for the right reasons. For
example most of the time in horror films we mainly just jump because of
a sudden change in the music pitch, but in "Tourist Trap" prepare
yourself, that's not the case. With it's perfect use of lighting,
mannequins, and weirdness you feel utterly creeped out. Plus I love
because although they may go a bit over-the-top with some things you
still feel like this could happen. Which is exactly what a horror movie
who takes such a ridicules premise should do, and that is make us (the
audience) feel unsafe and terrified.
Overall as far as any major
problems go, I have none, only that it's weirdness may get a little too
weird at times. However in the end "Tourist Trap" holds a place near
and dear to my heart, for being one of the few horror films to make me
turn on the lights and feel unsafe about traveling.
An All-Time Fave... - 16
is one of my favorite horror films of all time and I used to think it
never really got its due. That is until I read the glowing reviews
here. It seems many feel the same as I did when I first saw it.
a damn creepy film, and I've spent most of my life watching creepy
films. I've always found dolls, mannequins and such damn creepy! Check
out the dolls in "Beyond the Door" and of course the great "Trilogy of
Terror". And what about the magnificent Twilight Zone episode "Living
Doll". Hell, dolls are creepy! And Tourist Trap has some moments that
will make your hair stand on the back of your neck. All aided by an
excellent soundtrack that just makes Connors' performance even more
I remember seeing the trailer to this film on
late night TV and thing, "Wow, I gotta see that!" It was memorable. And
it's one of the only trailers I remember seeing as a kid that creeped
me out. Took me years to see it, but it was a treat.
Stephen King also mentions this film in his "Danse Macabre" book, and
gives it a glowing recommendation. Pretty good company.
film will always be high on my list of must-sees. It's a real solid
addition to the genre of the time and deserves place alongside the best
of the 70s schlockers.
A sleeper that has
withstood the test of time, fun to watch. - 20 July 2000
films just fade away, but Tourist Trap has withstood the test of time
and has justifiably become a cult favorite. Though not completely
original--it owes much to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it holds its own
with a sense of humor, genuine creepy moments, a brilliant score by
Pino Donaggio, and the fun performances by Chuck Connors and the cast.
Don't let the PG rating keep you away, this film proves that gratuitous
gore and nudity are not needed in every horror film to make it
entertaining. Those elements are usually used to cover the lack of
thrills in a film. Here, the scares are merited and effective. Plus,
only Chuck Connors could carry a scene in which he has to share soup
with a mannequin! A classic scene indeed. Now more accessible on DVD in
widescreen, this film is a must for fans of '70s horror fare.
Almost a classic - 28 May
Trap turned out to be a much better film that I was expecting,
containing enough great material to make it a classic alongside the
likes of Halloween. However I think the reason it isn't a classic is
because it tries to throw a bit too much into the mix and by the end
the film seems overcrowded. There are plenty of suspenseful and creepy
moments, perhaps the best being one that wouldn't have been out of
place in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The scene in the basement is
incredibly creepy, as the killer (wearing a mask that looks like
Leatherface) pours plaster over the girls face until she can no longer
breathe. It doesn't take her long to die, as the viewer is treated to
the sound of a pounding heartbeat.
I don't want to give too much
away because you really have to see it for yourself, but I will say
that there are several key scenes which are scattered throughout the
film. They are evenly paced so don't worry about having to suffer long
stretches of boredom as with some horror films. The only aspect that
spoils Tourist Trap for me are the scenes towards the end. Because
Tourist Trap has a surreal and almost dream-like quality, it's hard to
make sense of what is happening at times. The ending is a typical
example of this, although I'm not complaining because it is deliciously
Tourist Trap is a must see horror film, no doubt
about it. If you're sick of watching low budget trash-fests, watch this
low budget cult classic instead.
"These tourist traps are
all alike." - 7 April 2003
not this one. From the scary as hell opening sequence, I was thinking
this might not be the usual slasher fare. In one way Tourist Trap is
the usual stuff. A lonely man, seemingly quite nice, lives alone and
his business is dwindling due to a new highway that was built. His
business involves a mannequin museum and he has a large mansion looming
behind it. Hum...sound familiar? But it does present a good twist on
the Psycho formula: he's telepathic and he's Chuck Connors. Mr. Connors
delivers a wild performance simply because he's Chuck Connors. To see
the Rifleman wearing a wig and playing with dolls is something I won't
soon be forgetting. I thought he was great and he saved the movie when
it started to lose me. Thankfully, it never did. And as creepy as the
movie is, it's rated PG. That really shocked and impressed me. David
Schmoeller has had some hits (Puppet Master) and some misses
(Netherworld) as a director. I would call Tourist Trap a definite hit.
Tourist Trap is one of the slicker films you will see with Charles
Band's producing credit on it. Long live Chuck Connors.
at the IMDB
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Movies That Deserve More Love