Directed by David Schmoeller [Other horror films: Crawlspace (1986), Catacombs (1988), Puppetmaster (1989), The Arrival (1991), Netherworld (1992), Possessed (2005), Little Monsters (2012), Puppet Master: Blitzkrieg Massacre (2018), Death Heads: Brain Drain (2018)]
I’ve wanted to see this one for years, and while it certainly had that odd vibe I was sort of expecting, with a really interesting story, ultimately, I didn’t end up loving it.
With little gore or nudity to add to the film, Tourist Trap got by on the unique feel of the story. There were some intense and creepy scenes throughout, though it’s not without dull moments from time-to-time. The atmosphere was solid also, but unfortunately it doesn’t make up for the drawbacks of the film.
These drawbacks come mainly from the acting and the antagonist. None of the performances here were particularly stellar – if I’d have to name the best, I’d probably give it to Chuck Connors (and given his vast IMDb filmography, especially compared to the others in the film, that’s probably not much a surprise). Jocelyn Jones didn’t do that poorly, and toward the end, gave off a “this situation is driving me crazy” Marilyn Burns feel, but her overacting rubbed me the wrong way. To be fair, Connors’ was a bit much at times also. Nobody else in the film really stood out one way or the other.
The antagonist was a bit of a surprise, but aspects of the character didn’t do it for me, mainly the voice. It’s beyond me to explain exactly what I didn’t like about it, but suffice it to say that while he looked creepy, his voice sort of ruined much of the effect for me. If he had just not spoken, been more the silent killer like Jason or Michael, I think he’d have been quite a bit more menacing.
Tourist Trap is an interesting movie, and certainly has its place as a cult classic. It’s not surreal or anything, but I did occasionally get a Phantasm vibe (which came out also in ’79) – that said, given how there’s nothing similar whatsoever in the plots or stories, that may just be me. The creepy vibe is solid, and the opening sequence pretty freaky, but overall, I don’t think this is one that I’d go out of my way to revisit. It’s not a bad film, just sort of ehh.