According to BallBuster, even though I sent the last 2 movies I rented from them went back over the previous weekend, my next 2 won't arrive until the middle of this week. So....I found a watchable version of Tourist Trap, a slasher from the late '70's starring old cowboy actor Chuck Connors. Hey, it's better than nothing....prepare for SPOILERS...
The theme song is our first clue that this is going to be weird...it's like something you'd expect to hear in a Saturday morning cartoon show. Very strange song choice for an opening theme, it's just an assortment of sound effects and some off-key notes.. Thankfully, the opening credits are brief...uh oh, did I just see Charles Band's name in the credits? Crap, please don't let this be a cheesy stop-motion killer puppet film!
The first scene shows an unlucky guy wearing a pink shirt and a Gilligan-style hat, while rolling a tire down a dusty, empty road. He stops rolling the tire long enough to open a canteen, but it's empty. He apparently can't figure that one out, so he tips the empty canteen above his head to look up into it. Yup, still empty Einstein.
Lunkhead's name is Woody. Funny, my bet was on Moose. Anyway, after he fully explores the intricacies of the canteen, he swears, then resumes his journey. As luck would have it, Woody passes a sign that promises "GAS EATS-AHEAD". Okay, so either someone ahead is serving food that tastes like gasoline, or the movie features a gas creature that will devour a head while we watch...either way, it sounds better than watching Nimrod here rolling a tire. Bring it on!
Back at Woody's car, a woman is sitting under some shade and listening to the weather report on the nearest radio station. A jeep pulls up, and all three of the occupants know the girl. The girl sitting next to Woody's car is Woody's girlfriend, Eileen. The others are Jerry, Becky and Molly. The others seem kind of generic, but Becky is played by Tanya Roberts, a former "Bond girl"(and also Midge from That '70's Show.). Hubba.
As they all fret over poor Woody, he finally finds the gas station. Right on cue, ominous music starts playing. He ditches the tire, and struts into the gas station like he owns the place. When he calls out for service and no one answers, he decides to explore.
He finds what might be a simple bedroom/office, and hears a weird moaning sound coming from a figure on a nearby cot. They're mostly covered up by a blanket, so Woody moves in for a closer look. When he nudges the blanket, the figure pops up, revealing itself to be a mannequin with a hinged mouth that appears to be laughing at him.
As Woody backs off, the door he entered through slams shut, locking him in. Then a window opens up on its own, but shuts before he gets near it. As Woody examines a second window, another dummy flies through the glass toward him. Then a third one falls out of a closet, laughing like the first one did.
That's bizarre enough for Woody, but it gets even weirder when a mannequin head on the floor turns around to look at him, followed by more giggling. Deciding that he's had enough, Woody makes a hole in the door, and tries to disengage the lock with one hand. He then feels something grab him from the other side of the door, and freaks out. As he screams, objects throughout the room start flying at him, culminating in a metal bar spearing Woody in his spine and sticking him to the door. Then everything goes still again.
His friends, now all in the jeep, find a sign advertising "Slausen's Lost Oasis", which is some kind of "western" museum. They decide to pay it a visit, perhaps hoping that Woody also saw it. They continue down the road, failing to see a sign proclaiming the museum to be closed. Or maybe it's the road that was closed. I dunno, somebody nudge me if I nod off before the next kill.
So, the Cheap Jeep dies just as they arrive at a nice clearing. As Jerry sets up to try and fix his vehicle, the girls abandon him to explore the area. They find a refreshing-looking body of water, and decide to go skinny-dipping. Somebody better go tell Jerry, before he misses all the fun!
Molly tries to persuade Becky and Eileen not to do it, but they pretty much ignore her reluctance. She eventually joins them, so I guess peer pressure wins in the end! We get a few brief glimpses of Jerry fiddling with doodads under the hood of the jeep, in between scenes of the girls frolicking in the water. Oh, and someone hiding in the woods is watching them...
That "someone" is Mr. Slausen himself, proprietor of the legendary western museum. He's holding a shotgun, so either he's hunting wascally wabbits, or our group is trespassing on his property. He surprises them when he appears, then they get even more nervous when he decides to sit at the water's edge and have a chat. And a good look.
He tells them that the body of water is, indeed, on his land. Then Slausen advises the 3 girls not to stay too long in the water, because water moccasins tend to swim there and like to bite unsuspecting swimmers. Then he cackles and disappears back into the woods.
Jerry finds the girls all laughing, and they tell him about meeting Mr. Slausen. As they make their way back to the jeep, they find the redneck waiting for them. He hears about the engine trouble, and offers to drive the group to his house, where they can call a tow truck. After a brief moment of hesitation, Molly decides to accept his invitation, and the rest follow like sheep.
Slausen brings them to the museum, and encourages them to explore. One of them says that most of the stuff on display is junk, and Mr. Slausen mentions that many of the items belonged to his late wife. D'oh!
When he's complimented over how life-like his mannequins seem, Slausen reveals that they were created by his brother, who was a gifted artist. Oh, and he's bitter because a new highway that was built rerouted most drivers away from his business. Um, did my film get switched with the House of Wax remake when I wasn't looking?
Anyway, Slausen freaks them out by showing them that his figures are animatronic. At the push of a button, a figure springs up, aims a rifle at the visitors, and fires a blank at them. Slausen laughs when they get scared, and tells them that he used to love to freak out children with the robotic figures. Okaaaay......
One of the girls notices a house nearby, and asks if Slausen lives there. He mentions that someone named Davey used to live in the house, but Slausen actually lives in the museum itself. And none of his guests find that odd? Yeah, right.
Slausen tells the girls that he and Jerry will fix the jeep, and asks them to "guard" the museum until they return. Before they go, Slausen also tells the girls that the phone doesn't work. Heh, can you imagine what would happen to a group of teens today if their 90 gazillion Iphones and wireless tablets didn't work in the same scenario? You'd have about a 20-minute slasher flick, because they wouldn't be able to cope!
The second that the 2 guys exit the museum, Eileen announces that she plans to head to the isolated, spooky house in the distance, to see if they have a working phone. The other girls try to talk her out of it, but she's determined to find a phone. She tells her friends to form a posse if she doesn't return in 10 minutes.
It's incredibly dark outside, but Eileen makes her way to the house in one piece. She hears a voice inside, and calls out. When no one responds, Eileen finds the front door unlocked, and boldly walks right in.
She sees an elderly man with his back to her, and an elderly woman in a rocking chair. She steps into the room to speak to them, before realizing that they're both mannequins. She calls out to Woody, and tries the next room. More mannequins. Eileen spots a mirror and adjusts a red scarfl that she's wearing, then sees someone come into the room behind her. The mirror breaks, and she screams.
The masked figure seems to have telekinesis, and makes all of the windows slam shut just by looking at them. Then he does the same thing to the doors, and slides a chair at Eileen's legs without touching it. The masked killer makes Eileen's own scarf strangle her, and she preumably dies.
Becky and Molly get worried when Eileen doesn't return, and then they hear something moving around outside. It's only Mr. Slausen, who apologizes for scaring them. He pops open a can of soda, then begins to tell the girls about his late wife. The story comes to a screeching halt though, when Slausen realizes that Eileen is no longer in the room. He gets upset, and stomps away to find her.
Slausen heads directly to the nearby house. He calls out to "Davey", but no one responds, so Slausen decides to have a look around, He finds Eileen almost immediately, turned into a mannequin, but wearing the same clothes as before.
Back at the wax museum, Molly and Becky are starting to get restless. Molly finds a photo album, and sees some pictures of Slausen and another person(probably his brother). Then Molly finds a photo of Slausen's wife, and she bears a striking resemblance to one of the nearby mannequins. Uh oh....
Slausen interrupts them, and tells the pair that he made the figure to keep the memory of his wife alive. Then he announces that he's going to where they left the jeep, to see if maybe Eileen decided to head there for whatever reason.
Once again, as soon as Slausen exits the museum, the 2 girls also decide to leave. Instead of following Slausen, they head directly for the mysterious house. An upstairs window is lit up, and they guess that Eileen and Woody are probably fooling around in the house. Becky decides to go in, but Molly gets cold feet and declines the offer to go with her friend.
Becky climbs up to a second floor window, leaving the other girl shivering outside by herself. Becky can't see her own hand in front of her face in the dark house, so she turns on a flashlight. She tries to get Eileen to give away her location by speaking to her directly, but no one replies. The white-masked killer shows up in the background though, ready to claim another victim.
As Becky creeps down the hallway, the killer follows from a short distance behind her. Becky opens a bedroom door, and sees another mannequin, wearing Eileen's clothing. She comes up behind the figure, and sees that it's a wax figure, but then it lunges at her.
Frightened by the sudden movement, Becky btries to escape back to the hallway, but the killer then attacks her. Just as it happened earlier, all of the doors and windows slam shut, and the killer pushes Becky to the floor. She knocks him out with a mannequin body part, and crawls away, only to be buried as an avalanche of mannequins topple on top of her.
When she wakes up, Becky finds herself tied up along with Jerry. Also, there's a girl named Tina strapped down on a table. It looks like the basement of the house, so that must be where the killer "creates" the mannequins. Now, who the heck is Tina, and why is she tied to a table???
The killer tells Tina that he brought the others down to visit her, and she begs for her life. What follows is almost directly ripped-off in the movie House of Wax. Seriously, the makers of that film obviously saw this one.
Jerry tells the girls that the killer behind the mask is Slausen's psychotic brother, Davey. Then Tina chimes in, and informs them that he abducted her when she drove into his station to get some gas. She also tells them that they can't escape, and that they'll all end up dead soon. Well, Tina sure seems like a ray of sunshine, huh?
Anyway, that wasn't the part House of Wax cribbed from(well, kind of, but something else happens that...oh, you'll see!)....I guess it comes up later. Anyway, we go back to the museum, where Molly is getting restless. Nothing happens to her, andf we see the killer changing his costume. Then he returns to the captives in the basement, and tries to force them all to drink something he poured into a cup.
Okay, here's the scene I thought happened earlier. The killer immobilizes Ttina's head with a strap, Then, while Tina begins to sob, he applies plaster to her face. He describes the process to Tina as he covers up various parts of her face, saving her nose for last. As her air is cut off, he tells her that her heart will burst before she suffocates. Then she has a few body spasms, and dies. (more or less the same thing that happened to Jared Padalecki in House of Wax....except that his death was a more prolonged one)
As the killer admires his handiwork, Jerry breaks free and jumps at him. They wrestle briefly, but the killer throws Jerry off of him with superhuman strength. Jerry hits a wall, and is dazed long enough for the killer to strangle him to death.
Back in the museum, the supposedly-broken phone rings. Molly answers it, but no one responds. She grabs yet another flashlight, and leaves the museum. After she exits the building, the display holding the figure of Slausen's wife suddenly turns on.
In the basement of the house, the masked killer keeps droning on and on about his motives and his brother. Someone should tell Hollywood that the killers are 100% scarier when they shut up...While the killer drones on and on and on, the captives spot a key on the floor and try to grab it. The killer is just toying with them though, and he uses his telekinetic ability to slide it around the floor while taunting them.
Out in the fog, Molly gets scared when she hears someone near her whispering. The killer leaps up from behind a nearby bush, and shoves a mannequin head near Molly. The head has a hinged mouth and screams, which sends the poor girl off and running. The killer follows, but at almost a leisurely pace.
Molly is stopped by a tall metal fence, so she quickly scrambles over it. The killer throws the mannequin head over the fence in her direction. Where it lands, it turns toward her and starts to move again on its own. Molly travels down a stream and then through some more forest.
Eventually, she finds a road, and sees a truck coming around a bend. She flags it down, and finds Slausen behind the wheel. As she freaks out, he starts to drive. She tells him that the killer needs to be stopped, but Slausen reveals that he wants to capture his brother himself, because he thinks that he can reason with him. Molly sure is dumb.
At the house, Slausen gives Molly a shotgun. He shows her how to use it, then goes inside. When she calls his name and he fails to respond, Molly has a panic attack. She continues to shout his name, unaware that the masked killer has emerged from behind the truck. Molly hears him at the last second, and turns, pointing the rifle right at the killer.
Molly fires the gun, and finds that it's filled with blanks. As the killer teases her, she swings the gun like a club, smacking him in the face. The plaster crumbles, revealing that the killer is....Mr. Slausen! Rut roh! Molly drops the rifle, and escapes into the woods. She decides to hide someplace that is completely exposed, which is about as stupid as a stupid plan can be. Why am I not surprised?
She thinks that she sees him coming at her from the woods, so she does something else stupid: she wades into the lake/pond/whatever, and just stands there like Queen Doofus of the Doofus Brigade. Slausen somehow manages to pop up from the water behind Molly without her hearing him, and by the time she sees him, he manages to shove her under the water with a minimum of effort.
Jerry and Becky try to break free While Slausen has a "meal" with one of the wax figures. He puts another mask on, and the figure across the table sits up. Using a combination of telekinesis and ventriloquism, Slausen and his "date" have tea and crackers...until the mannequin's head rolls off.
In the upstairs bedroom, Molly wakes up in bed. Wait, so Slausen didn't drown her? Why??? She tries to sit up, but is strapped down like Tina was in the basement. Slausen enters the room, and tells Molly that if she behaves, he'll reward her. When she begs him to let her go, he tells her that he can't.
In the basement, Jerry finally gets free. He sets Becky loose also, then they sneak back upstairs. They emerge into a mannequin storeroom, and Slausen is seen nearby playing with his dolls, while dressed as a woman. Can this movie possibly get any weirder?
Slausen hears them moving around, and leaves his "dolls" to investigate. Jerry backs up and tries to act like a dummy, which comes to him naturally. Slausen looks in both directions of the hall, then leaves. Jerry relaxes and continues on his way, followed by Becky.
Jerry tries a few doors, then Slausen emerges from a room nearby, and scares the willies out of the guy. Taking no chances, Jerry simply leaps out of the nearest window. Slausen finds him brushing off broken glass and splintered wood, and they end up having a chase sequence anyway.
Then we see Becky running around in the woods, being chased by nobody. Makes sense. Instead of hiding in the trees(or behind one, at least), she finds a path lit by lamps and stops there. Wait, is the plot twist maybe that they want to get killed? It sure does seem that way...
Anyway, she's found by Slausen, who puts on the whole "nice guy" act again. He picks her up off of the ground, and carries her back to the museum, like a monster from a movie in the 1930's. He puts her on his bed, then tells Becky that he needs his "doctoring kit".
She does what they all have done so far...she waits a few seconds, gets all worked up, then starts to call out his name. Using his ventriloquism, Slausen starts with his usual errie whispering from different areas of the room. Been there, done that. Got any new tricks?
Well, it turns out that he does have a new trick! He waits for Becky to reach a certain spot, then he makes one of the wax figures pop up in front of her. When she screams he laughs, and Becky sees him aqcross the room, sitting comfortably and watching her.
Before she can react, more mannequins pop up, and begin firing real bullets at the poor girl. Becky ducks and covers, and manages to avoid the gunfire. Not to be defeated, Slausen makes a figure of a stereotypical American Indian throw a hatchet at her. The first one misses, but the second one plants itself squarely in the back of her skull, killing Becky. It takes her a week to die, though, as she "emotes" and reaches for the weapon's handle, then slides to the floor. Bravo, Shatner. One by one, Slausen uses his "powers" to turn off all of the wax figure display lights.
Molly wakes up again, and a kind-looking woman next to the bed gives her something to drink and dabs her forehead. Then the woman backs away, and Slausen enters the bedroom. Molly feigns being asleep, and Slausen lifts her out of the bed and carries her down the hall. So I guess the woman was either part of a dream sequence, or maybe another wax figure?
Slausen brings her to his play area, where they are surrounded by mannequins. Then Slausen pretends to be napping, to see what Molly will do. As you probably expected, Molly drops the act, looks around cautiously, then tries to crawl away from the loon as slowly as she can. That's when the various figures in the room have their hinged jaws go slack, and they "sing". This movie is like a one-trick pony, minus a trick.
When Molly screams and covers her head with both arms, Slausen decides to stop goofing around. He drags her to his brother's room, and tells her that she's "special" to him. He asks her to tell him that she loves him, and Molly complies. then Slausen backs away from her, and admits that he murdered his family members too. DUH. He found his wife in bed with his brother, and decided that a divorce was too messy, I guess.
Supposedly, he decided to make a wax figure of her AFTER he committed the murders, but I'm not convinced that he didn't just do to her what he did to Tina and the others. Some sappy music plays, as if we're supposed to feel sorry for the nut. Yeah, that'll happen.
After telling his tale, Slausen tells Molly that she'll have to join the others. Right on cue, Jerry comes to the rescue. Molly calls his name, and Jerry finally gets the door open. He tells Molly to come with him, and Slausen seems to hang back, to see what she does next. Molly creeps toward Jerry, then gets behind him, and hugs him around the waist.
Jerry demands to know what Slausen did with the rest of their friends, and Slausen plays dumb. I guess Jerry has a major gap in his short-term memory. Slausen laughs while Molly urges him to shoot the maniac. Remember when I said earlier that the movie had become as bizarre as it could? Well, prepare to watch me eat my words....
Slausen laughs at the idea of Jerry harming him, then tears the dumbfounded guy's arm off. Then he rips off Jerry's head, and knocks the mannequin over, to the horror of a shocked Molly. Slausen tells her to look around, and she discovers that her friends are all mannequins, yet alive too.
Slausen then dances with one of them, and she seems to be alive as well. Then a bunch of "scary" mannequins come forward, laughing, so Molly grabs an axe. As all of the mannequins to a hinge-jaw scream, she buries the weapon in Slausen's shoulder, near his neck.
He staggers around, trying to pull the blade out. Then he keels over, and Molly lets out an ear-piercing wail of anguish. A final scene shows Molly speeding away in the jeep, with the mannequins of her friends in the vehicle with her. Oh, and she's grinning like this was the best summer vacation EVER. THE END
Wow, what a seriously nutty movie. And there were absolutely no answers to anything that we saw happen--or, indeed, if it even did happen! All I can say for sure is, I'm fairly certain that the folks who made the House of Wax remake were influenced by at least some parts of this movie.
And what did I learn after watching Tourist Trap?
-Well, if you run away from a deranged killer, don't stop to admire the wide open scenery. Dumbasses.
-When choosing your friends, try not to pick ones that are anything other than flesh and blood...
-Blank rounds and bullets can transform into each other like magic, and no explanation is ever needed.
Okay, so if last week's movie finally arrives, I'll be watching Maniac Cop by mid-week. If not, I'm not really sure what I'll watch next. We'll just have to see...