I have to admit, when I first saw The Conjuring, I could not get Annabelle out of my mind. I am fascinated with the thought of humanoid figures and there most certainly is a sense of suspiciousness when I am alone in a room that even remotely has one doll. So, I was elated when New Line Cinema announced the resurrection of my favorite dolly dearest.
I was shocked as to how empty the film made me feel after viewing it.
The premise was most certainly brilliant. A cursed doll that somehow always found its way back to you? Sounds like a pretty good setup to me.
The fear of dolls has been around for centuries. When I was about 6, my grandmother gave me a doll that she had purchased from a local flea market. The doll’s eyes moved and she turned as a little whimsical jingle came from her plastic body when you turned her on. My grandmother gave this doll to all her granddaughters and loved it so much, she bought one for herself.
After her passing, I happened to stay in her bedroom one night while we were visiting family. Suddenly, that doll took a whole new shape. Not physically of course, but in my mind. As I was staring at her, the jingle went off and her hands moved and her eyes fluttered. Of course, this was part of the doll’s routine, nothing out of the ordinary. Except for the fact that no one was in the room with me and she did it on her own. Just me and that doll.
Years later, on a cold Saturday morning, I came across a movie and I was instantly enthralled. The movie was called Tourist Trap.
The movie is pretty dated, it was released in March of 1979 making it 36 years of delightful horror fun. So, you could imagine the lack of CGI and gore we find tend to find in today’s cinema.
The setup of the movie is pretty mediocre. A couple get a flat tire and one of them leaves to get help. This poor unfortunate soul is Woody, our first victim. He is impaled by in a room that is cowering with mannequin heads all cackling at his unfortunate ending. The most creepiest aspect of this single film is the way the mannequins turn, in sequence, to stare at Woody. This photographic imagery is what sets the tone and premise for the film.
Because Woody has been belted in the back, his friends go on a search for him. Mysteriously, their car breaks down. Jerry, the only male in this sordid soirée, tries to fix the vehicle while the ladies, Eileen, Becky and Molly go skinny dipping because what else is there to do, really? As they frolic in the waters, Slausen, a country folk armed with a shotgun and overalls, watches nearby like the creeper that he is.
Slausen offers to help the group out but needs to grab his tools that are at his place. Uh. Oh.
This is when we discover Slausen’s Lost Oasis, a tourist trap that houses various very life like mannequins. Eileen spots another house in the horizon and Slausen states that it is in their best interest they should just stay put until they get the car fixed. Of course, Eileen doesn’t listen and ventures off to find a phone and encounters one of my favorite characters in the film. Eileen falls victim as she is strangled to death by an unseen force but not before she encounters a rather tall individual wearing an extremely grotesque mask.
Slausen returns to the house that Molly and Becky are staying at and says that Jerry drove into town. Molly and Becky tell him that Eileen had gone to the forbidden house and Slausen frantically arrives at the house to find that Eileen has been turned into a mannequin.
One by one, each of our unlucky friends are trapped by mannequins, all of various sorts.
They in turn, of course, are turned into mannequins of their own. Before Jerry dies, he discovers that it is Slausen’s brother that is actually behind all the murders. He has gone bat shit crazy and is now turning humans into mannequins- while they are still alive by suffocating them by pouring plaster onto their faces.
However, with all horror greats, a twisted ending shall ensue.
In the end, only one person makes it out alive. In quite possibly the most epic ending of a horror film I have ever seen.
Tourist Trap needs a serious remake. The elements are all there. Rising suspicions, creepy and weird characters, and ah, the mannequins. The mannequins are what makes this movie so memorable. There is not any serious CGI or jump factors but rather the mysteriousness of what you would encounter in a home that is cowering with dolls and mannequins. And killer ones at that!
The soundtrack is another hidden gem lost in Oasis. I couldn’t help but think of the haunting tune of Dexter. Tourist Trap has some of the best audio I have found in an older movie, that itself is worth a gander.
If you haven’t checked out the film, it is most definitely worth the watch. To say that this movie is a classic, is well, not entirely true. But, a horror great, indeed.
Check out the trailer below.