Chuck Connors and friend

Chuck Connors with one of the many mannequins crafted from unfortunate tourists in The Tourist Trap.

After about ten minutes I deemed the film unwatchable and switched on the director’s commentary just to get an idea what it was like to make a low-budget horror film in the late seventies, something that seems almost dream-like to me. The director, David Schmoeller, explained that the film was based on a student film he made, and that he really knew very little about filmmaking when he shot Tourist Trap. Some anecdotes are quite funny, such as the meeting of the minds between classically trained actress/protagonist Jocelyn Jones and on-the-job-trained veteran Chuck Connors, who at this point hoped to turn himself into a new generation’s Boris Karloff. He doesn’t succeed in this effort, though he pulls off some nice nusto scenes, especially in mannequin/doll drag.

Chuck Connors in doll drag

OK, this a somewhat nightmarish. The movie did have some creepy moments when it rolled out the moving mannequins. Maybe Chuck Connors should have spent more time in a wig.

Tanya Roberts, pre-Charlie’s Angels, plays one of the hapless victims. She’s foxy as fuck here, and I would have cast her as an Angel in a second based on her ability to wear a tube top.

Tanya Roberts in The Tourist Trap

Tourist-Trapped Tanya Roberts.

Sexy as Roberts may be in it, the film will disappoint those looking for nudity (the three actresses refused to do it – for a skinnydipping scene that was pointless without at least some topless ogling) and gore (though it’s a bit squirmy at times). In fact, the director laments the PG-rating it got, which understandably quashed business. Who wants to see a late 1970s horror film that didn’t even muster an R-rating? Not me, and though I was bored by the movie and disappointed in its inability to really exploit the ready-made creepiness of mannequins, I was truly wowed by the final shot. That alone upped my rating a star!

Tourist Trap conclusion

Horror gets a happy ending by making the “last girl” lose her mind. She gets to leave the tourist trap with a smile on her face – and with all her friends!