13 Nights of Morbidly Halloween Movies - Night 2: Tormented by TOURIST TRAP

I was probably 11, maybe 12 years old. I had spent the evening trick-or-treating with my friend, BJ, in his neighborhood. BJ's family were a little more well-off than my own (maybe a lot more), so he lived in a pretty nice suburban community. I, on the other hand, lived in the middle of the boonies, surrounded by cows and trees. I had one neighbor across the street and only 2 more houses within the distance of a mile. Because of this, trick-or-treating was a "no-go" in my neighborhood.

I'm truly not even sure if BJ and I were actually "friends". His father was a friend of my dad. We would go to their house on occasional weekends to swim in his family's pool and have cookouts. BJ was a few years younger than I, but possibly more mature in some ways. I'm not sure how much we actually had in common other than both being baseball fans and both loving NES. On top of his large collection of DC Super Powers figures, he was also the first kid I knew that owned "The Legend of Zelda", a fact that made BJ pretty damn cool in my eyes.

I can't tell you what we dressed as that Halloween, but I know that we canvassed most of the surrounding blocks that night. For whatever reason, I used old pillow cases for my trick-or-treat bags. While my family always made the valid argument that they were sturdier than the usual plastic trick-or-treat bags, I truly believe it was more a case of forgetting to pick up a bag and making do with what was on-hand.

BJ's grandparents also lived in this same neighborhood. After our rounds of begging from the neighbors, we ended our night at their house, organizing our stashes while waiting for our respective parental figures to pick us up and take us back home. In my case, I was waiting for my father. For the most part, Dad was a decent enough guy. However, he was easily distracted. As I would discover many years later, he was particularly distracted if a freshly-lit joint was passed his way. No, I don't know for certain that the reefer played any part in his tardiness that night, but it sure makes for one hell of a story.

BJ's parents had come to get him first, leaving me to wait out the remainder of my time in the company of an older couple that I really didn't know. Don't get me wrong. They were nice enough people, but it was pretty obvious that they had more important things to do than to babysit someone else's kid. That's what the TV was for. They turned on the set and left the room, leaving me under the guidance of whatever channel they had previously left it on. The station was nearing the end of a Halloween Night movie marathon. I never knew what was played prior, but the movie starting at that moment was 1979's Tourist Trap, a film that I had never heard of. But hey, this was "regular" TV. 

How bad could it be?

The answer: Pretty bad. Frighteningly so.

For those unfamiliar with the film, Tourist Trap is the story of group of young adults that take an ill-advised detour and find themselves at a former roadside attraction where they are tormented by the deranged owner and his cadre of telekinetically controlled mannequins. The film wastes no time in taking its turn for the deranged. People impaled with pipes, a human face used as a mask, and lifelike mannequins with knowing eyes focused squarely on the camera. As if they were staring back at the young eyes that were staring at them. And this was just in the first 20 minutes. Ya know, before they started moving.

I can't tell you what my friend's grandparents were doing, but it was most assuredly NOT supervising me. Had they been doing so, they may have noticed the sheer terror creeping across my frightened face and seeping deep into my brain. Instead, I was left to defend myself against the onslaught of laughing mannequins.

Eventually, my father did arrive to take me home. I didn't say anything to Dad about it on the way home. I highly doubt that he would have understood.

I eventually forgot what the movie that I had watched was, but I never forgot those mannequins. Years later, I stumbled across Tourist Trap again. I slid the DVD into the player, completely unaware of the childhood trauma that would come washing back. As I'm now a much older, much more jaded version of that kid, I wasn't as effected as I was so long ago. The film, while still incredibly creepy, no longer chilled me as it had all those Halloween's prior.

I highly doubt that this experience made me the horror fan I am today. I also doubt that it played any part in my decision to one day write about these films. What I know for certain is that even now I sometimes find myself looking over my shoulder as I walk through clothing stores. That mannequin make look harmless in his Aeropostale sweatshirt, but I now know better. 

Submitted by Dustin Fallon
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