31 Days Of Streaming Horror: 'Tourist Trap' Will Frighten You With Weirdness

Welcome to 31 Days of Streaming Horror. Every day this October, we'll be highlighting a different streaming horror movie to help you get into the Halloween spirit. Today's entry: Tourist Trap (1979).

Tourist Trap

Now Streaming on Shudder

Sub-Genre: WeirdBest Setting to Watch It In: In your house full of mannequinsHow Scary Is It?: You have no idea what you're in for

At first glance, Tourist Trap looks like your typical Texas Chain Saw Massacre-inspired horror movie. A group of youths on a road trip end up at the wrong place at the wrong time, and run afoul of a dangerous lunatic. But Tourist Trap is far weirder than that. It's the type of movie that makes you ask, "What am I even watching here?" as it unfolds.

In this David Schmoeller-directed oddity, a gaggle of young people end up stranded at a roadside tourist trap after their car mysteriously breaks down. The tourist trap is in the middle of nowhere and has no other guests. In fact, the kids assume it's abandoned. But it's not. The owner, Mr. Slausen (Chuck Connors) is there, and he makes quite a first impression. He introduces himself by pointing a gun at these kids for trespassing on his land, but then he turns into a seemingly nice, if eccentric, guy.

His business is struggling, and he's eager to show off what he has inside his house: a "museum" full of mannequins. Sounds a bit weird, right? Well, just wait. It turns out the mannequins are alive. Maybe. It's never really clear what the hell is going on here – are these supernatural mannequins, or is this all some sort of weird fever dream the characters are having?

The creepy mannequins are the least of their problems, anyway. Because Mr. Slausen is batshit crazy, and prone to dressing up and pretending to be his own twin brother. And when he's in evil twin mode, he gets a hankering for killing some youngsters. Which he does by smothering their faces in plaster and turning them into mannequins for his museum.

All of this unfolds with the hazy quality of a dream, or a hangover-tinged memory of an all-night bender. There are long stretches of this film where Schmoeller moves his camera around from one screaming mannequin face to another, the sounds of their weird disembodied voices a cacophony poised to reduce you to tears. It's all underscored by a playful, almost cartoonish score courtesy of Pino Donaggio. By the time a mask-wearing Slausen gets into an argument with one of his mannequins about a bowl of soup, you'll feel as if you're on the verge of madness.