October Extras #2 - Tourist Trap

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.

I hope this is how I check out.

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:

You can probably see the similarities.

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?


  1. I love this movie as well and feel that Rob Zombie had to have had this one in the back of his head (along with a half dozen other movies) while making House of 1,000 Corpses.

  2. If I'm remembering the right movie, this has a disturbing scene where he's suffocating a girl on a table with plaster and talking her through the various stages of her death. Pretty creepy.

  3. I have this on my Netflix queue, maybe I'll give it a bump. What are the other Charles Band movies you'd recommend besides this one?

  4. Castle Freak, and Crawlspace, and... uh... i think that's about it.

  5. i love this movie. a fine choice, sir!

  6. I ashamed to say I've never actually watched this film although I've thought about it several times. Now I'm going to have to run out and rent it. You did leave out one important factor in your review...does Tanya Roberts take her clothes off?

    (And PS. on Charles Band....I've always had a soft sport for Crash and Burn for some unknown reason. Maybe I just thought Megan Ward was cute.)

  7. No nudity at all :( A small imperfection.

  8. Paul - Yes this is the one! Then there's a scene a bit later where he complains about not being able to use his powers. "Why shouldn't I do it? It feels GOOD!"

  9. Man - I have not thought of this movie in 30 years, it used to scare the piss out of me when they would play it for the Saturday afternoon 'Creature Feature' in Detroit.

    *Click* "LAA!"

  10. As the young girl on the table who was suffocated - I thank you for saying it was disturbing. My mom DEFINITELY felt the same way!

    Glad the movie is still provoking comment . . . Believe me - WE have a lot to say about it!!

  11. Whoa!!! If you like, feel free to email me anything you would like to discuss about this movie!!!


  12. Thanks for this review - I'm glad my work is still getting reveiwed after all these years.

    If intereasted, you can check out my newest movie: THOR AT THE BUS STOP at http://thoratthebusstop.com

    Also, I just finished a screenplay called BLUE TEARS about "mannequins-coming-alive" in a Shopping Mall - I may shoot it in Singapore - although I'm also talking to a company that has a deal with Dimension.

    Anyway, thanks for the kind words - David Schmoeller (http://davidschmoeller.com)

  13. Thank you for the comment! And thanks even more for the movie!!!

    p.s. BLUE TEARS sounds awesome!

  14. I love this movie too. It's not perfect, but I do feel it is unique within the genre. It just has this feeling of being off. Do you think it would benefit from a remake?

    While, I don't think remakes are always good, I think with the right director, it would have a lot of interesting stuff to play with in a remake.


  15. Movies I like even more have been remade so I guess there's not much point of praying that they leave this alone. Guess it could be OK if they had a director who really wanted to do it and had something new to bring to the story. If it was just some typical Platinum Dunes style "let's remake because we can" affair, then no way.

  16. As you point out in BDM, the great thing about this movie was that it came out before most modern horror movie tropes had bee solidified, so it feels like anything can happen to the characters.


Movie & TV Show Preview Widget