Probably the high point of the killer doll genre, Tourist Trap actually has moments of genuinely creepy suspense. It breaks several of the genre rules (the dolls aren’t possessed, the killer is human, etc.) and, it bears mentioning, provided the real inspiration for the 2004 House of Wax remake (not the Vincent Price original).
Tourist Trap starts our similar to Texas Chainsaw Massacre in that a group of college student on a road trip get lost and decide to spend the night in an eerily deserted ghost town. They meet the owner of the local wax museum, who, besides his mysteriously absent brother, is the only person left in town. Soon, through a series of generally non-violent deaths (the film is rated PG), the movie generates some genuine thrills by featuring some of the creepiest dolls I’ve ever seen. It turns out that the owner of the wax museum has a reclusive brother who may be behind the deaths, controlling the dolls through a sort of telekinesis. But is that what’s really happening?
This film plays with a number of interesting themes such as our connection to physical beauty, and our natural aversion to lifelike wax figures; and although it never strives to make an intelligent point, there is enough Freudian weirdness to keep the audience entertained. The film even works as a satire of romantic movies and the possessiveness they portray and legitimize, as evidenced by the creepy overtones and epic soundtrack, which feels like it was stolen directly from Dr. Zhivago.
Tourist Trap is easily the best of the horror films I watched. It’s creepy, original, and despite its low quality, oddly endearing. Anyone familiar with the House of Wax remake will guess what is happening right away, but the film is worth watching just for the doll effects, which although simply done, easily best those of any other killer doll film I’ve ever seen.