Tourist Trap is a 1979 slasher film co-written & directed by David Schmoeller (Puppet Master, Catacombs, Crawlspace, Netherworld, & The Arrival). It was co-written by J. Larry Carroll (The Day Time Ended, Ghostbusters TV Series, Thundercats, Dennis the Menace, & Star Trek: The Next Generation). It was produced by the legendary Charles Band (Puppet Master franchise, Trancers franchise, Subspecies franchise, Ghoulies, Troll, From Beyond, & Dolls) & Irwin Yablans (Halloween franchise, Fade to Black, Hell Night, Scream for Help, & Prison). They originally wanted John Carpenter to direct this project but it never worked out.
Eileen (played by: Robin Sherwood from The Love Butcher, Blow Out, Death Wish 2, & Serial) & her boyfriend Woody (played by: Keith McDermott from Without a Trace & How the West Was Won) are driving through the desert. When their car gets a flat tire, Woody goes to find a gas station. Their friends Becky (played by: Tanya Roberts from A View to Kill, Sheena, Charlie’s Angels, The Beastmaster, & That ’70s Show), Jerry (played by: Jon Van Ness from Brubaker, X-Ray, Alligator II: The Mutation, & The Hitcher), & Molly (played by: Jocelyn Jones from The Enforcer & Nowhere to Run) are traveling separately in a different vehicle. Woody found a gas station but it appears deserted. The others find a tourist trap & conclude Woody is there since he never showed back up. As they drive in, their vehicle mysteriously breaks down.
Mr. Slausen (played by: Chuck Connors from Last Flight to Hell, Summer Camp Nightmare, Werewolf, Airplane 2, & The Rifleman), the owner of said tourist trap greets the outsiders that are on his property. He is disappointed by the decline of his tourist trap since the highway was moved away. Slausen offers to help Jerry with the Jeep but insists the group go to his house with him to get his tools. They see the tourist trap: animated waxwork figures (one of them played by: scream queen Linnea Quigley) but when Eileen asks about a nearby house, Slausen insists that the women should stay inside the museum. They don’t listen to the stranger & they start to pay for their mistakes. The friends separate from each other & disappear one by one. Who is behind all these madness? Will they be able to escape this living nightmare before it’s too late????
Tourist Trap is one of the better slashers from the late 70’s. This was made before that sub-genre was popular & it took off during the 80’s. It still holds up & it’s one of those films that you end up revisiting it more over the years. Charles Band was one of the best & most creative producers when it came to horror back then. He made sure that Tourist Trap had it’s known actor which was veteran Chuck Connors after a few others turned it down for a great payday at the time this was being made which instantly grabbed everyone’s attention for it. Chuck Connors gave an excellent performance here as the struggling business owner that’s all alone at this creepy place. It had some top notch eye candy with the female leads in this.
It had more than a few familiar faces that you have seen before in several other projects like Tanya Roberts, Robin Sherwood, & Jon Van Ness. The supporting cast was solid here. One of the best things about Tourist Trap is it’s atmosphere, you know something is wrong right away from seeing it’s odd surroundings. Robert A. Burns (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes, The Howling, Mausoleum, & Re-Animator) handled the production design for this feature. So many talented people worked behind the scenes for this including a score from Pino Donaggio (Dressed to Kill, Body Double, Carrie, The Howling, & Two Evil Eyes), editing by Ted Nicolaou (Trancers 1/2, Ghoulies, Robot Jox, & Subspecies franchise), & special fx from Richard O. Helmer (Child’s Play, Apocalypse Now, Jaws, Alligator, Jeepers Creepers 2, & Spider-Man 2). Everything about this slasher was at a level when it came to quality. Tourist Trap had some interesting kills, cool looking killer, & a solid twist at the end. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the special features from Full Moon! “Audio Commentary” with writer & director David Schmoeller. He goes over the music & score from composer Pino Donaggio. He chats about the special & visual fx for the production. He talks about the cast & their performances for Tourist Trap. He brings up the production design & putting together all the creepy mannequins for this. He shows appreciation for his talented crew on the feature. You can tell he had a great experience making this & he is full of information about the late 70’s slasher. It has an almost 25 minute short documentary “Exit Through the Chop Shop” about Tourist Trap. Director & writer David Schmoeller goes over his career. He tells how he got started & what launched him into the film busyness after going to film school. He brings up projects he worked on before as a screenwriter he did his own. The origins & the beginning concepts of the movie is discussed here. He says he pitched it to a few producers but Band was the only one that was willing to give him a shot on it. He talks about the talented cast & crew plus name drops a few of his original choices that didn’t work out for this. He goes over his experience working with lead actor Chuck Connors & how he learned so much from him during the shoot. He mentions the production design including the mannequins. The overall experience of making this film & putting together some of the most important scenes for it. He breaks down the post production process on it. David Schmoeller goes over the legacy of his slasher flick & how it still gets respect after all this time. It has a little over 3 minute “Still Gallery” with various photos, press, & artwork for the movie. It features a “Trailer” for Tourist Trap. It has a variety of 8 different “Trailers” from Full Moon. Tourist Trap is finally uncut on blu ray in the states for the very first time thanks to the great folks at Full Moon. The original release had a odd version of the film & this brand new disc is much better. I will say this, Tourist Trap has never looked great on home video & the transfer is about the same as the last one to be honest. It’s definitely an improvement over the older VHS & DVD transfers that featured this uncensored cut but do not expect reference quality here. It kinda has a grindhouse feel to it which adds to the charm of it. The packaging on this limited edition VHS box edition is great & reminds me of them old school big box releases from the old video stores. It also comes with a Mr. Slausen action figure which is a really cool collectible. If you just want the standard release of Tourist Trap, it will be available in February. Tourist Trap should be in every horror & slasher fan’s collection. This one comes out next week & it’s available almost everywhere, CHECK IT OUT!!!!