B-Movie Corner: Tourist Trap

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First Posted: 10/6/2014

Tourist Trap is a film that upon its initial 1979 release seemed destined for cinema obscurity where it would forever remain due to poor numbers at the box office. However, through repeat airings on late night cable throughout the 1980’s and with high praise coming from none other than Stephen King, it instead became a film that has been forever established as one of the creepiest slasher films ever made.

The standard tropes for slasher films are in use here, but done very well and of course involves teenagers. However this is already known going into the film due to the fantastic tagline used in promotions for Tourist Trap, “Every year young people disappear.”

The film begins with a group of teenagers in two separate vehicles driving through the desert when, after separating, one of the cars gets a flat. Woody leaves the car to find a gas station to fix the tire and upon finding it is quickly dispatched by a metal pipe.

The other vehicle and passengers arrive to find Ellen waiting patiently for Woody’s return. They pick her up and soon find the gas station and conclude that it is where Woody must be, but their jeep mysteriously breaks down while driving in toward it. The girls do the most logical thing and go skinny dipping while the driver, Jerry tries to figure out what’s wrong.

As they swim, Slausen appears holding a shotgun and inquiring why they are trespassing on his land. Once the situation is explained he relents and apologizes explaining that since the new highway was built his once popular museum has fallen into disrepair as has his life in general, but he soon offers to help them fix the jeep. He just needs them to come to the museum with him to get his tools. Things quickly take a turn for the worse.

Upon entering the museum they are surrounded by offbeat and creepy outdated robotic mannequins. Slausen takes Jerry to fix the jeep but warns the girls that they absolutely must stay in the museum. However, due to the unsettling environment they have suddenly been thrust into Ellen leaves to find a phone in the nearby house.

Once inside the house, she finds several more mannequins. Someone calls her name, and a stranger wearing a grotesque mask suddenly appears behind her. Ellen is then strangled to death.

The masked figure makes more appearances throughout the film, killing people in a variety of ways, but nothing very graphic, this film actually had a PG rating initially. It was released before the MPAA had even established a PG-13 rating; however on the DVD box now has an R rating on it.

Tourist Trap is an enjoyable slasher film that has many twists and turns throughout, some logical, some not. There are some familiar faces such as Tanya Roberts of Charlie’s Angels and That 70’s Show fame. The bizarre ending may leave some scratching their head, but it is an ending that you will not soon forget.

Final Verdict: Tourist Trap is a film that came out very early in the slasher film boom, one year after Halloween hit screens, and is a forgotten gem of horror cinema. The film’s isolated setting along with the eerie soundtrack and always disconcerting mannequins strewn throughout blend together to make the perfect environment in which to set a slasher film. If you are a fan of films like Friday the 13th, Halloween, and Nightmare on Elm Street than Tourist Trap is a must see film!

Where can I get it? : Tourist Trap is available on both DVD and Blu-Ray at many retail outlets, but due to its cult status it is not a film that you will likely find in many physical stores and instead it is best to search online at retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, and Target. The film is also currently available for streaming online at Amazon.