OCTOBER 2, 2007
God I love this movie.
From the opening circus-y music by Pino Donaggio, to the fact that it’s a breakdown movie that begins after the car has already broken down (!!!), to the opening murder (which is explained to death on the DVD’s surprising wealth of extras), you know that Tourist Trap is far from something you’re used to for a slasher movie (which it only really qualifies as in loose terms) before the 10 minute mark. And it keeps getting better.
Several times on this site I have pointed out that the House of Wax remake from 2005 was really more of a remake of this film. And it’s not really a joke: both films feature a car full of teens that breaks down in the middle of nowhere, both have “two” killers of a sort, both involve an abandoned town, and both utilize wax (well, plaster in Tourist, but used the same way) and mannequins. Also they’re both pretty awesome, though Tourist adds more than just a touch of weirdness, putting it a few notches above Paris Hilton’s film.
There’s a scene about 1/2 of the way through the film that ranks as one of the creepiest and yet hilarious scenes in slasher history. Tanya Roberts finds herself in a room full of mannequins, and then, one by one, the mannequins let out a choir note (“La!”) and fall onto her. Eventually there’s like 10 mannequins on top of her. It’s one of my favorite setpieces in any horror film ever, and now, anytime I pass a mannequin at the mall or whatever, I usually let out a “La!” before throwing one on top of Tanya Roberts.
If you haven’t seen the film (for shame!), you can probably ascertain from my examples that it’s a bit off-kilter. Chuck Connors’ character is a hoot, going from sad and melancholy one moment to needlessly angry the next. And the film does a pretty good job of covering its twist. Also, the killer “speaks” in a manner not entirely dissimilar from Billy’s in the original Black Christmas at times; other times he simply sounds like the “Fitter, Happier” guy speaking through a tracheotomy box. And man, the score in this thing is so damn good, I nearly paid 40 dollars for a vinyl copy of the soundtrack (I don’t even have a turntable to play it on). I’d also love to dress as the killer for Halloween, but since the movie is relatively obscure (for some goddamn reason) I’d probably spend all night explaining that I wasn’t dressed as the tranny Leatherface from TCM 4:
The commentary track is definitely worth a listen. He repeats some stuff, but among one of the many great tidbits to learn is that while they were shooting in LA, John Carpenter was on the other side of the mountain shooting parts of Halloween. Making it all the more impressive – it’s a damn good slasher film that WASN’T spawned off of the success of Carpenter’s film.
Also, I should note that this is one of maybe 5 movies with Charles Band’s involvement that I would actually recommend to a person of taste.
What say you?