There aren’t a lot of Terror Tuesday shows that will make me want to take to the Internet to look up more about a particular subject. It was a pleasant surprise this week to have my interest piqued in a subject that I ultimately learned was called pediophobia. Pediophobia is defined as a fear of dolls, or more specifically a fear of “false representation of sentient beings” like mannequins. As a child, if you weren’t afraid of mannequins or dolls and happened to come across Tourist Trap, then pediophobia might have become a newly acquired childhood fear.
As a group of five friends are traveling through the desert, Eileen and her boyfriend Woody’s car gets a flat tire and he goes off to look for help. He happens upon an old looking gas station and when he goes inside to look for help, he happens across what he thinks is a sleeping women. Turns out he’s fallen into a trap, and a group of mannequins begin laughing maniacally at him and various objects begin flying at him before a steel rod impales and kills him. Eileen and Woody’s friends find their car and when they go off to search for him they encounter an old tourist trap museum run by a strangely nice old man named Mr. Slausen (Chuck Connors). While the others search the property, a mysterious masked figure begins killing or trapping members of the group.
As is usual for me with Terror Tuesday, this was a film I hadn’t ever seen. I know that some of my colleagues were very excited seeing this film in all of the glory that is the standard, but always special, 35mm format. One of them even said that he couldn’t ever watch this film in its entirety without either closing his eyes or covering them with his hands. Whenever the Terror Tuesday film is met with that kind of enthusiasm I know I’m in for a treat, and this week delivered on very high levels.
Every week there are different aspects of Terror Tuesday that make it a memorable experience. Usually it’s the performances, as opposed to the memorable kills, that I enjoy the most. This week is no exception. Chuck Connors as the seemingly innocuous Mr. Slausen comes off as the kind of guy you wish was your grandfather. Always offering a kind spoken word and willing to lend a helping hand with a genuinely nice smile that instantly puts you at ease. Very different from the performance of the grizzly-voiced mannequin-masked killer. The first time he comes on screen I immediately thought to myself how cool the mask looked in addition to being genuinely frightening. The scenes wherein the killer is controlling the very scary looking mannequins, while simultaneously making them sing in an enchantingly haunting way, made me think he is destined to become one of the more iconic onscreen killers ever seen in a Terror Tuesday film.
This was one of my favorite Terror Tuesdays. I really loved the killer in the film, and Chuck Connors turned in a really great performance here. Thankfully, I’m not a young child who would now be at risk of developing an irrational fear of mannequins after seeing this. The cast is filled with mostly unknowns, but they do a good job here as well. A little underused perhaps was the one person who might very well be the most well known of the cast: Tanya Roberts. As a man, I certainly didn’t mind seeing her at a young age on screen here. But the film is absolutely great, and if available to you, I can’t recommend it highly enough.
The crowd here seemed a good one for this film. The introduction by host Zack Carlson always properly gets the crowd pumped up for the film. Throughout the film, there seemed to be appropriate reactions some of the jump scares as well as some cheering at moments of triumph from some of the victims. The biggest reaction came from a moment in the film where the killer asks a simple, but hilarious, question to a tied up victim. All in all, a good Terror Tuesday at the Alamo Drafthouse!