Tourist Trap REVIEW

Release Date: 30 April 2012
1979 * 15 | 90 minutes | £12.99
Distributor: 88 Films
Director: David Schmoeller
Cast: Chuck Connors, Jocelyn Jones, Jon Van Ness, Robin Sherwood, Tanya Roberts

Thirty-three years since its release, only one person’s made great claims for the genius of Tourist Trap. Mind you, that fan is pretty impressive: Stephen King sang its praises in Danse Macabre, his 1981 book on horror. Allow us to join him.

It splices together elements of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Carrie and House Of Wax – a blend that doesn’t sound like it should work, but really does. We follow your usual bunch of hapless twentysomethings, as they make a pit-stop at a run-down roadside museum run by the amiable Mr Slausen (Chuck Connors), a lonely widow. It’s not long before they’re dying, one by one…

The film weds an older tradition of the uncanny with the more brutalist ‘70s mode, combining the unheimlich (dead-eyed mannequins flapping their jaws) with the psychopathic (a masked killer who suffocates his victims in plaster). The results are seriously creepy.

It’s blessed with some great twists, the last of which defies any attempt at rationalisation. Tourist Trap is one of those horror films – like Don Cascarelli’s Phantasm – where trying to apply logic is a waste of effort. As writer/director David Schmoeller says, “This whole movie is like a dream or a nightmare; it really doesn’t have to make any sense, but it’s still very vivid in your memory”. Popcorn surrealism at its very best.


An interesting commentary by writer/director David Schmoeller (recorded in ‘98) and trailers.

Ian Berriman

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