OOM #21 – Tourist Trap (1979)

Hello everyone with the thirst of horror, blood and gore that comes out every night in search of the latest horrors in the film world, those obscure or known films that suddenly appear in your view and make you squirm. We are suddenly going onto the final stretch of October and finalizing our October Overlook Madness, but we know that we will miss this sudden crazy urge to watch these kind of movies that we wouldn’t any other day of the year. We become a little mad sometimes, and that’s OK.

The movie today is one that has been somewhat in my radar due to the wonderful book written by Stephen King, and no, it’s not a novel, ‘Danse Macabre’! One of the most complete and passionate studies on what horror films were in the 50’s and beyond. This movie was praised and here is praised again by James Rolfe for his Cinemassacre’s Monster Madness, which is the reason we are watching it today. You can see the video here, and you can read my review below.

Mannequins are creepy, and no one can say the contrary. I mean, I can’t count how many times I’ve been standing right next to one, feeling the presence of someone (not something) right there, and then to turn around and be surprised (or scared to death) to the fact that it was an inanimate object! This movie fuels that horror and makes it real in a much more supernatural way than any of us could ever imagine: by making the mannequins move… Well, first of all, the real fear of mannequin is that they seem that they are alive, that they seem that they are about to move, but they don’t, and this movie just does that, it makes them move… So, is the movie scary? Yes, it is, but mainly because of the way in which the mannequins are made and how scary they look with their hollow eyes and their real-as-fuck hair and eyes. It’s a movie about the fulfillment of the fear of the movement, but in the end it was about the stillness in which the fear stood in the beginning.

Stephen King praised this movie mainly for its opening sequence, in which a man tries to find help for the flat tire and enters a wax museum, and in a room he finds a bunch of mannequins that start to cry, laugh and scream at him, as well as the surroundings, other inanimate objects of any kind start to move and crash around him, only to then be killed off by a giant metal bar going through his back. The sequence itself works because of two reasons: 1. it sets the mood for the rest of the film, one of unpredictability, and 2. it has one scary mannequin head with scary eyes and a gaping mouth that screams horrifyingly. It’s freaking scary man! The rest of the film is a mixed bag, when it repeats that randomness it’s effective and whenever the killer appears, but it sometimes lacks momentum, mainly because we can’t identify with any character except for the owner of the place, whose brother is apparently controlling and turning alive people into mannequins.

The twist can be seen from a mile away, but it still is effective for what it manages to do in terms of how sick the mind of the killer is. In many ways it reminded me of ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ (1974), and with reason as it shares some of the crew, but it lacks the passion of doing something completely disturbing and disgusting, as it barely manages to get some creative killings (except for the whole, plaster in the face deal, but it occurs once and we are already sick of it), some memorable characters, or even that sense of dread. It all seems to go down too nicely or too perfectly for the killer, and there’s never a true emotional interest from the actors in the roles that they play. A low budget, but I guess there wasn’t enough passion, unless it was from the director, who manages to put his themes and obsessions out there. Still, highly watchable.

7/10

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