Tourist Trap (1979)

Genres - Horror, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Thriller  |   Run Time - 90 min.  |   Countries - USA  |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Pediophobes beware! For anyone who has caught themselves looking over their shoulder to reassure themselves that that creepy mannequin in the department store display didn't just blink, Tourist Trap will make you think twice before making that much-needed trek to the local mall. With an atmosphere recalling such memorably intense shockers as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and anticipating such future horror classics as The Evil Dead, Tourist Trap just might be one of the most underappreciated low-budget horror films of the 1970s. Favoring unsettling sound and imagery in favor of gratuitous gore and shock tactics, and featuring a giddily loony performance by Chuck Connors, Tourist Trap's nightmarish atmosphere and logic propel it a step ahead of its contemporaries. Numerous scenes of screaming mannequins menacing their victims have a certain way of getting under your skin despite the temptation toward awkward laughter, with a surreal night-terror logic often teetering between downright silly and absolutely horrifying. Add to that a dash of black humor and you're in for an unsettling exploration into the mind of a deranged, telekinetic schizophrenic and the horrific secret process for creating his disturbingly lifelike mannequins. Pino Donaggio's quirky score serves as a curious contrast to the ons-creen mayhem, with an almost humorous slink rendering the sometimes tongue-in-cheek dialogue and suspense scenes even more awkwardly frightening; and, of course, saving a few off-key stingers for maximum impact. A curiosity in the age of fright films where gore and violence substitute for genuine horror, Tourist Trap may not remain as popular as many of its contemporaries, though the primal instincts of fear it taps into leave an undeniable impression and sense of discomfort on the viewer that's impressive for a film of any era.