Movie Review: Tourist Trap (1979)

Synopsis: While trying to catch up to Woody, who had been walking through the California desert in search of air for a spare tire, a group of friends have car troubles outside Slausen's Lost Oasis, a tourist trap featuring a museum of mannequins that is no longer in business because of a recently built highway. The owner of the closed business, Mr. Slausen, offers to help the group but they soon find themselves under attack by a man dressed as various mannequins.

Who's in it? The movie stars Chuck Connors, Jocelyn Jones, Tanya Roberts, Robin Sherwood and Jon Van Ness.

Review: My wife was busy making a wedding dress for a friend most of the day yesterday but took a break from it with enough time for us to watch a movie. I came across Tourist Trap a couple days ago on Amazon Prime and since I'm familiar with both Chuck Connors and Tanya Roberts, decided to watch it. Overall, I thought it was a decent choice.

I think my wife described this movie best by saying it is a combination of the films Psycho and House of Wax. There is a friendly but disturbed host and a killer that wants to turn people into wax mannequins. And while some parts of the movie were a bit predictable, there were just enough twists and turns to keep it interesting throughout.

As is usually the case with movies like this, much of the plot relied heavily on the protagonists making poor choices. For example, when they were told to stay indoors, it took all of two minutes before one decided to go outside and investigate a nearby house. Plus, while there should have been strength in numbers, it didn't take long for the four of them to be separated. I mean, I know it was the 1970s but their first interaction with Mr. Slausen (Connors) involved him holding a gun. That kind of feels like it should have been a red flag. 

That said, the film was helped considerably by a general feeling of creepiness, both from Mr. Slausen and some strange-looking mannequins scattered throughout the property. Some of them alone would have made me feel uneasy, even if they weren't moving on their own.

My only real complaint about the movie is there were some elements that were just kind of there and not really explained all that well. In particular, Mr. Slausen seemed to have the ability to control things with his mind.  I don't remember the movie explaining that (at minimum, it wasn't explained very well) or whether his mannequins were really animated or being controlled by him. Of course, to be fair, I might have just missed it.

Final Opinion: The movie isn't perfect but has quite a few elements that make it somewhat scary and entertaining. Don't let the PG rating fool you. It's at least as good as some of the horror films marked R.

My Grade: B


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