Tourist Trap (1979)
Directed by David Schmoeller
It’s simple. Young pretty things stop at a remote museum full of eerie mannequins. Their car needs a repair, so they ask the museum owner for help. Things only get worse for this merry band of tourists. A big man with a tiny white doll’s mask is dead set on killing them.
Yet even with such minimal setup, Tourist Trap (expanded from Schmoeller’s thesis project, The Spider Will Kill You) threatens to become an incoherent, but oh so delectable film. This is no matter though. Plot is the least interesting thing about this and most films. Focus on the elaborate death scenes. They draw your attention to sound. There’s Pino Donaggio’s lush score. It has a twinkling innocence, grand strings, and an ethereal chorus. Schmoeller also heightens your sense of the sound design. We hear, for instance, blood plop, plop, plopping before we even see the wound. And most chilling of all, you can’t quite place the voices heard that go with shots of dead-eyed dolls. “I hear voices in my head and they keep calling me,” OutKast once sang. Tanner Tafelski (July 30, 7pm at the Metrograph’s “This Is PG?!”; with Schmoeller intro and Q&A)