Tourist Trap (1979)

PG | 85 mins | Horror | 14 March 1979

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HISTORY


       According to a 23 Mar 1978 HR brief, principal photography was scheduled to begin 27 Mar 1978. As noted in a 25 Apr 1978 DV article, the twenty-four days of filming took place on location in the Los Angeles, CA, area and at soundstages of Ramparts Studio. Some interiors were shot at an abandoned house at 5255 Hollywood Blvd., which was scheduled for demolition. Director David Schmoeller, who stumbled upon the structure while driving by one day, made arrangements with the contractor to postpone the wrecking so the production could shoot inside for five days. By using the ramshackle house, the filmmakers saved an estimated $30,000 dollars in set construction and soundstage fees, according to DV. The overall budget for the independent production was listed as $800,000.
       The 11 Jun 1979 Box critic mentioned that the character Slauson was comparable to “Norman Bates” from Psycho (1960, see entry), while reviews in the 14 Mar 1979 LAT and the 21 Mar 1979 Var applauded the special effects, but dismissed the picture’s “slow” and “unoriginal” narrative. Later, however, noted bestselling novelist Stephen King commended Tourist Trap in his 1981 non-fiction book about horror, Danse Macabre, describing the picture as his own “discovery” within the B-genre and one that “wields an eerie, spooky power.”

      In the end credits, the spelling of the character “Slauson” differs from the name of his tourist museum in the film, which is written on several signs as “Slausen’s Lost Oasis.”

              End credits include the following statement: “The filmmakers wish to express ... More Less


       According to a 23 Mar 1978 HR brief, principal photography was scheduled to begin 27 Mar 1978. As noted in a 25 Apr 1978 DV article, the twenty-four days of filming took place on location in the Los Angeles, CA, area and at soundstages of Ramparts Studio. Some interiors were shot at an abandoned house at 5255 Hollywood Blvd., which was scheduled for demolition. Director David Schmoeller, who stumbled upon the structure while driving by one day, made arrangements with the contractor to postpone the wrecking so the production could shoot inside for five days. By using the ramshackle house, the filmmakers saved an estimated $30,000 dollars in set construction and soundstage fees, according to DV. The overall budget for the independent production was listed as $800,000.
       The 11 Jun 1979 Box critic mentioned that the character Slauson was comparable to “Norman Bates” from Psycho (1960, see entry), while reviews in the 14 Mar 1979 LAT and the 21 Mar 1979 Var applauded the special effects, but dismissed the picture’s “slow” and “unoriginal” narrative. Later, however, noted bestselling novelist Stephen King commended Tourist Trap in his 1981 non-fiction book about horror, Danse Macabre, describing the picture as his own “discovery” within the B-genre and one that “wields an eerie, spooky power.”

      In the end credits, the spelling of the character “Slauson” differs from the name of his tourist museum in the film, which is written on several signs as “Slausen’s Lost Oasis.”

              End credits include the following statement: “The filmmakers wish to express a special thanks to Albert Band.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
11 Jun 1979.
---
Daily Variety
7 Apr 1978.
---
Daily Variety
25 Apr 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Mar 1978.
---
Los Angeles Times
14 Mar 1979
Section IV, p. 13.
Variety
21 Mar 1979.
---
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT

NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Irwin Yablans Presents
A Compass International/Manson International Release
Charles Band Productions Presents
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Still photog
Gaffer
Best boy/Elec
Elec
Key grip
Best boy/Grip
Best boy grip
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Asst art dir
Assoc art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set des
COSTUMES
Asst ward
MUSIC
Mus comp
Cond by
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec masks and mannequin eff
Spec masks and mannequin eff
Spec masks and mannequin eff
Spec masks and mannequin eff
Spec masks and mannequin eff
Titles and opt by
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Consultant to the prod
Prod coord
Scr supv
Prod secy
Prod accountant
Prod accountant
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Animal trainer
STAND INS
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Tourist Trap
Release Date:
14 March 1979
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 14 March 1979
Production Date:
began 27 March 1978 in Los Angeles, CA
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses/Prints
Lenses and Panaflex camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
85
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

On a deserted dirt road, a young man named Woody searches for a gas station to repair a flat tire while his girl friend, Eileen, waits by the Jeep. Walking into a desolate diner, Woody hopes to find assistance, but instead is mysteriously locked inside a backroom, where he encounters a group of animated, laughing mannequins that use telekinesis to hurl objects at him. One of the objects, a metal pipe, impales Woody against the wall and kills him. Meanwhile, Eileen gets a ride from three friends, Molly, Jerry, and Becky, and the group drives along the road looking for Woody. After stopping at a closed down tourist museum called the Lost Oasis, which is near the diner, Jerry’s car inexplicably malfunctions. He attempts to start the engine, while the women swim naked at an idyllic lagoon on the property. There, they are greeted by the museum proprietor, Mr. Slauson, who is peculiar, but offers to help repair the car. He takes the group to his museum of Western collectibles and souvenirs, containing several mechanical dummies made by his younger brother, Davey. Slauson tells the group that Davey is a talented artist, who now works for a wax museum. Before leaving to help Jerry with the car, Slauson advises the three women to wait at the museum, but warns them not to wander outside, due to the coyotes at night, or to visit the big house next door. However, Eileen, the spunkiest of the group, ignores the instructions and investigates the house on her own. Inside, she finds more lifelike wax figures and hears ... +


On a deserted dirt road, a young man named Woody searches for a gas station to repair a flat tire while his girl friend, Eileen, waits by the Jeep. Walking into a desolate diner, Woody hopes to find assistance, but instead is mysteriously locked inside a backroom, where he encounters a group of animated, laughing mannequins that use telekinesis to hurl objects at him. One of the objects, a metal pipe, impales Woody against the wall and kills him. Meanwhile, Eileen gets a ride from three friends, Molly, Jerry, and Becky, and the group drives along the road looking for Woody. After stopping at a closed down tourist museum called the Lost Oasis, which is near the diner, Jerry’s car inexplicably malfunctions. He attempts to start the engine, while the women swim naked at an idyllic lagoon on the property. There, they are greeted by the museum proprietor, Mr. Slauson, who is peculiar, but offers to help repair the car. He takes the group to his museum of Western collectibles and souvenirs, containing several mechanical dummies made by his younger brother, Davey. Slauson tells the group that Davey is a talented artist, who now works for a wax museum. Before leaving to help Jerry with the car, Slauson advises the three women to wait at the museum, but warns them not to wander outside, due to the coyotes at night, or to visit the big house next door. However, Eileen, the spunkiest of the group, ignores the instructions and investigates the house on her own. Inside, she finds more lifelike wax figures and hears a voice that sounds like Woody calling. Following the sound, she becomes trapped in a room and one of the mannequins strangles her with her own scarf. Back at the museum, Molly and Becky examine a female mannequin on display whose skin feels like flesh. They later learn that the figure resembles Slauson’s beloved wife, who died of cancer. Returning, Slauson informs the two women that Jerry borrowed the truck and drove to a garage in town. When he finds out that Eileen is poking around the property, he leaves to search for her and reminds Becky and Molly to remain at the museum. Tired of waiting around, however, Becky decides to explore the mysterious house, despite Molly’s reservations. Upstairs, Becky hears giggling and assumes Eileen has reunited with Woody, but instead, she finds a masked madman, wearing Eileen’s scarf. Summoning a horde of mannequins, the madman attacks her and ties her to a pillar in the basement where Jerry and a woman named Tina are also being held captive. Jerry and Becky are horrified as the madman kills Tina by smothering her face with plaster. Elsewhere, Molly has ventured outside to look for her missing friends, but she flees through the woods upon encountering the masked lunatic, who taunts her with a dummy head that resembles Woody. Along the roadside, Slauson comes to Molly’s rescue and takes the terrified woman back to the museum. When Slauson informs her that the madman is Davey, Molly accuses the proprietor of hiding his deranged brother and insists they contact the police. Later, while waiting outside the museum for Slauson and armed with a rifle, Molly confronts Davey again. She shoots, but her rifle contains only blanks. When she hits him on the head with the gun, the mask cracks open, revealing the face of Slauson, the real madman who possesses telekinetic powers to control his mannequin creations. Capturing Molly, Slauson confines her to a bed. Meanwhile, Jerry and Becky escape from the basement, but are soon caught and killed by Slauson, then turned into one of his mechanical dummies. The psychopath, however, feels that Molly is “special” because she reminds him of his deceased wife, and he wants to be intimate with her. In an emotional confession, Slauson reveals that he murdered his wife and brother when he discovered that they were having an affair. As he becomes distracted and dances with one of his mannequins, Molly finds an opportunity to kill the psychopath with a hatchet. Escaping from the property, she drives down the road transporting the wax figures of her dead friends, but the experience at Lost Oasis tourist trap has left her traumatized. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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