Saturday, August 27, 2016

Tourist Trap (1979) movie review

Tourist Trap (1979)

In late July and early August, The Metrograph in NYC has a series of movies called :

This Is PG?!

which documented a bunch of films that probably should have been rated R, but somehow ended up with a PG rating. 

In 1979 David Schmoeller remade his college thesis film, and Tourist Trap was the result.  In the vein of other films of the era, like Friday The 13th, Halloween, and many other stranded teen movies, this should have been a very popular film of the day.  Due to some poor marketing, and the lack of an R rating, this film ended up doing well on cable and other outlets, but was not the kind of hit some of those other films were.  The reason it was rated PG was the lack of boobs, or any nudity for that matter, and a lack of gore.  Although scary, back then the MPAA would give you a PG rating without those two factors.  And while nowadays studios prefer a PG-13 rating, back then they preferred an R as that's what people wanted. 

The movie follows the same kind of plot of many of the movies of this era, flat tire, teens looking for their friend, one by one they go missing, etc etc.  I don't have to go too much into the plot, as most of these are paper thin to a degree, and the enjoyment level is usually in the execution, pun intended.  This film has the requisite scary things, in it, like mannequins, a creepy museum, a creepy house, special powers, masks, girls being abused, and plot twists.  Plus lots of stupid decisions and amusing moments.

The movie stars Chuck Connors, best known for starring in the TV show The Rifleman, and many other western style shows and movies.  He has acted in over 100 things, which is pretty damned impressive.  It also stars Tanya Roberts, an actress who was one of the Charlie's Angels replacements, starred in Sheena: Queen Of The Jungle, and most famously for her role as Donna's mother on That 70's Show. 

Now the director, he's interesting as well, as I have seen him speak a couple times now.  Other than this cult classic, he also wrote and directed the original Puppetmaster, and one of my faves, Crawlspace with the always creepy Klaus Kinski.  When I saw Crawlspace he showed up and did a Q&A and showed his short film, Please Kill Mr. Kinski, which is hysterical, and a must for any Klaus Kinski fan. 

Now, there are a lot of great ridiculous horror movies of this era, and although this is a fun little one, this is not one of the classics, known or unknown.  But it is well worth watching for both the very young and very hot Tanya Roberts, a creepy funny performance from Chuck Connors, and some very creepy mannequin scenes. 

Those of us that went to this screening were lucky for two reasons.  One, the director showed up and talked to us about the production, the effects, and all sorts of other things.  He is an amusing guy, ad it is always fun when he shows up at a screening.  Two, the print was his, and according to him he is retiring the print, as it is starting to show some wear and tear and he doesn't want to damage it anymore, which is sad, but is happening all over the world to many prints. 

All in all we had a fun night watching this movie one last time.

7 out of 10 stars. 

Location : The Metrograph, theater 1, NYC
Date and time : Saturday July 30th, 2016 at 7 PM
Format : 35mm
Audience : about 30 people