Tourist Trap DVD Review
Directed by David Schmoeller
Written by David Schmoeller, J. Larry Carrol
1979, Region 2, 88 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
DVD released on 30th April 2012
Chuck Conners as Mr Slausen
Jocelyn Jones as Molly
Jon Van Ness as Jerry
Robin Sherwood as Eileen
Tanya Roberts as Becky
Dawn Jeffory as Tina
As far as horror movie accolades go, being labelled one of Stephen King’s ‘favourites’ is probably the ultimate honour. That’s what manic mannequin movie Tourist Trap is lucky enough to have plastered on the DVD cover of its shiny 2012 re-release. And while this (surprisingly tame) retro terror may not be a memorable genre classic, there’s plenty of twisted imagery on show to warrant King’s praise.
The film follows four twentysomethings on a roadtrip across the rural American countryside, which, if movies have taught us anything, is full of killer rednecks and crazy cannibals. When the quartet’s car breaks down one of their team goes in search for help only to stumble into a seemingly abandoned house filled with malicious looking mannequins. Before long, he’s under attack by an unseen telepath who utilises these uncanny humanoid replicas for his own deadly deeds. Spoilers: this bloke doesn’t last long.
Now down to three, the trio head in search of their missing friend only to run into a kindly old loner who offers a helping hand. Inviting them back to his home, we soon discover that Mr Slausen (Chuck Conners) owns a roadside attraction that’s fallen on hard times, an attraction that’s full of worryingly lifelike dummies. As our road trippers wait for their car to be fixed, one by one they’re stalked by a masked stranger obsessed with making them the latest addition to Slausen’s demented museum.
Clearly written with the scare-loving teens of the 70s and 80s in mind, Tourist Trap doesn’t stray far from what you might expect. One look at the theatrical trailer, now Grindhouse-like with the gift of hindsight and there’s no doubting that this film was meant for drive-in cinemas. Where it does differ is in its risqué content. If you were expecting blood and nudity – think again. The scariest thing about Tourist Trap is that it’s was a PG on its original release – a factor that even director David Schmoeller thinks worked against its popularity. Despite this, Schmoeller does wonders to keep you creeped out for the entirety of the movie’s run time. His youthful cast successfully avoid cheese and the iconic Chuck Conners is on top form as the hard-to-pin down Mr Slausen. Combine this with some tense edge-of-your-seat visuals courtesy of Shmoeller and you begin to see why Stephen King holds this one so close to his heart.
Video and Audio:
Great digital 2.0 audio and 1.85:1 widescreen.
There's a few things of note on here but not much. An audio commentary by director David Schmoeller is enlightening as is a quick interview filmed specifically for this release. Then there's the usual theatrical trailer. Perhaps the coolest thing about this DVD re-release is its dual DVD covers which offer both a modern day take as well as an original retro poster cover.