Wicked Wednesday: Tourist Trap (1979)

Ever wonder what The Texas Chainsaw Massacre would be like if Leatherface was more into dolls than corpses? Well, if you have then lucky you! Look no further than Tourist Trap!

This 1979 slasher is weird and silly, but offers up plenty of uncomfortable moments.

When a group of friends are on a road trip, one couple hits road trouble. The boyfriend, Woody, takes the tire down the road to look for help.

He finds a gas station filled with strange mannequins. It’s seemingly empty, but before he can leave, Woody is trapped in the room and attacked by flying objects. The boy is impaled with a metal pole and dies.

Meanwhile, his friends find Woody’s girlfriend Eileen waiting by the broken down car. They give her a ride and they stop at a small tourist trap when Jerry’s jeep also breaks down. The girls decide to take a dip in a little oasis where they are interrupted by an older man, Slausen.

Slausen offers to help the girls and Jerry and takes them into his tourist trap – a museum with animatronic mannequins.

Jerry and Slausen leave to get the jeep sorted, leaving the three girls alone. Despite Slausen’s warning, Eileen goes into the nearby house to look for Woody or a working phone.

Eileen finds a room filled with mannequins inside the house and before you can sing “Nothing’s Gonna Stop us Now,” a man in a mask attacks Eileen and she’s strangled to death.

Slausen returns and finds Eileen missing, and the remaining two girls, Molly and Becky, explain that she left. When Slausen enters the house, he finds Eileen, only now she’s become a mannequin.

In the meantime, Molly and Becky explore the tourist trap. They find a photograph of a woman who looks remarkably like one of the mannequins. But after waiting, they decide to look for Eileen. Becky sneaks into the house and is attacked.

She soon finds herself tied up in the basement by the strange, ranting masked man. She’s not alone in the basement, though, as she’s joined by Jerry and a rando named Tina. In the basement, the masked man talks incessantly about his brother (Jerry assumes that the the masked man is Slausen’s brother) while plastering a mold over Tina’s face – suffocating her.

Jerry attempts to escape, but the killer uses his telekinetic powers to fight him and move the dropped keys from Jerry’s reach.

Molly, meanwhile, is alone. She soon stumbles across the masked killer and is attacked. But she’s saved by Slausen, who claims that the attacker was her brother. He gives her his shotgun, and tells her to use it in case the man arrives again. Slausen goes into the museum, leaving Molly alone. When the killer reappears, she shoots him only to realise the gun is filled with blanks.

The killer takes off his mask to reveal that (surprise) it’s Slausen himself! He overpowers Molly, and she wakes up strapped to a bed in a room filled with (surprise) mannequins.

Becky and Jerry manage to escape the basement. While Slausen is busy entertaining Molly, the two try to sneak out. Only they’re separated. Slauslen catches Becky in the tourist trap where she’s killed by the Old West mannequins.

Molly then ends up getting released from bed (this is honestly like a damn Benny Hill scene) and is attacked by the mannequins. Slausen tells her then that he killed his wife when he caught her cheating on him. Then he turned her into a mannequin! Jerry arrives to save her but he realises he’s a mannequin! Thankfully that little reveal gives Molly enough time to attack Slausen and kill him.

Molly drives off to safety with her mannequin friends in tow.

How Slausen has telekinetic powers is a mystery. Why make molds of faces if you can just turn people into mannequins. WHY and HOW can someone turn people into mannequins? Magic? Is this a side effect of telekinesis?

Tourist Trap tries its best to be both silly and unsettling, but it mostly ends up more confusing than gritty. Slausen is clearly the killer from the get go and I don’t know why the movie pretends that it could be anyone else. It worked for Psycho because we had genuine belief that Mrs Bates was at home. There was little proof that Slausen’s brother existed, so thus, it was pretty damn clear he was the killer.

This is one of the few movies I think would actually benefit from a remake. The film has a certain era-charm that would be difficult to replicate. But a lot of the dialogue is difficult to understand (particularly Saulsen’s). Which makes me wonder if things had been explained but I was too stupid to hear them.

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