Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Terrifying Tuesdays: Tourist Trap (1979)

I suppose everyone has memories of a particular movie that scared them silly when they were young.  I can recall several right off the top of my head.  The sudden and unexpected revelation of the cloaked figure's identity in the movie "Don't Look Now" (1973) absolutely terrified me (and still does).  Several scenes in scaremaster William Castle's "House on Haunted Hill" (1959) still manage to startle me every time, especially the sudden appearance of the rather ghastly caretaker's wife.  For some reason, though, the most terrifying movie scene I remember from childhood days is in Jean Cocteau's "Beauty and the Beast" (1946), and it is the one revealing a hallway lined with long rows of candles held by moving disembodied arms.  Many consider this movie to be one of the most beautiful ever made, but I must sheepishly admit that I have never been able to watch it again because of that one horrifying image forever branded into my brain!

From Richard Nilsen

All of this brings me, in a rather roundabout fashion, to the point of this post.  After viewing last week's shocking little film about mannequins, out of curiosity I did an internet search for "scary mannequin movies".  I found several discussions about this topic, and many commenters mentioned seeing a film about mannequins in their younger days that left a lasting impression of terror.  Most did not remember the name of this movie, but a few suggested that it was most likely a film called "Tourist Trap" (1979).  I looked for and found it on YouTube.  This movie is one I had never seen before and is indeed quite creepy, but a lot less gory than I expected, probably because it was made in the late 1970s when low-budget slasher films were just starting to become popular.  The cast includes Chuck Connors as the eccentric owner of the titular tourist trap, and a young, pre-blonde Tanya Roberts as one of the hapless tourists.  Actually, what I think I like most about this movie is the quirky, slightly dissonant music from the introduction by composer Pino Donaggio!  Anyway, you can watch it below and judge for yourself whether or not this film is the stuff of childhood nightmares:

My sister has recently developed a sort of schoolgirl crush on the actor Chuck Connors.  We grew up watching "The Rifleman" and "Branded", so he is a familiar face for my generation at least, but up until a few years ago I don't recall my dear sibling exhibiting any more interest in him than any other actor of the day.  Maybe I will send her the link to this movie for Halloween -- I wonder if she would consider this a holiday treat or a rather mean-spirited trick?

Gore Guide (0=none to 5=extreme): 3

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