The following was originally posted on MorbidMuch.com back on October 20, 2015. I’ve occasionally thought about posting it on this site over the last couple years. I have decided to re-post it now that my friends Bill and Sam will be featuring it as part of this weekend’s Drive-In Asylum double feature over on the Groovy Doom Facebook page. As we are also kicking off our yearly Halloween countdown on the Horror And Sons Facebook page, I guess this would be the perfect time to re-post it!
I was 10 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 mice suburban community. I, on the other hand, lived in the middle of the “boonies”, surrounded by cows and trees. I had one neighbor who lived across the street, but otherwise there was 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 with my Dad. We would go to their house on occasional weekends to swim in his family’s pool and to have cookouts. BJ was a couple 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 huge baseball fans and both loving NES. On top of his large collection of DC Super Powers action figures, he was also the first kid I knew who owned “The Legend of Zelda”, a fact that made BJ pretty damned cool in my eyes.
I also can’t tell you what we dressed as that particular Halloween night, but I do 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 mother 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 having to make the best of what was on-hand.
BJ’s grandparents also lived in this same neighborhood. After our rounds of begging for candy 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. Now, I don’t know for certain that the reefer played any part in his tardiness that evening, 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 all that well. Don’t get me wrong. They were nice enough people, but it was pretty obvious that they had far better 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 had last been watched. The station was nearing the end of a Halloween Night movie marathon. I have never known what films were aired 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 a group of young-adults who take an ill-advised detour and find themselves at a former roadside attraction, where they are tormented by the demented 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 those lifelike mannequins with their knowing eyes focused squarely on the camera… as if they were staring back at the pair of young eyes that were staring back them!
This was just in the film’s first 20 minutes! Ya know, before they started moving.
I can’t say with any certainty what my friend’s grandparents were doing, but it was most assuredly not supervising me. Had been doing so, they may have notice the look of 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 Dad did arrive to take me home. I didn’t say anything to Dad about Tourist Trap on the ride home. I highly doubt that he would have understood.
In time, I would forget what the title of the movie I watched that Halloween night was, but I never forgot those mannequins. Years later, I would 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 am now a much older, much more jaded version of that kid, I wasn’t as affected as I was so long ago. The film, while still incredibly creepy, no longer chilled me as it had all those Halloweens prior.
I highly doubt that this experience made me the horror fan that I am today. I also highly doubt that it played any part in my decision to one day start writing about these films. what I know for certain is that, even now, I sometimes find myself looking over my shoulder as I walking through clothing stores. That mannequin may look harmless in his Aeropostale sweater, but I now know better.