A group of teens break down in the middle of nowhere with only a rundown tourist museum nearby to take shelter. What could possibly go wrong? What are the odds they’ll come across a telekinetic psychopath with a fetish for mannequins?
Every year young people disappear.
Directed by David Schmoeller
Starring Chuck Connors, Tanya Roberts and Jocelyn Jones
It doesn’t take long for the movie to start off with a bang as one of the teenagers walks to a gas station after they break down. Once inside he takes forever to figure out that the place has been deserted for a while but goes out back after hearing a noise. He becomes locked in the room and is attacked by an unseen force that throws objects at him, playing with him, until he’s impaled by a metal pipe. Thanks for showing up!
Meanwhile, tired of waiting, the rest of the group move on to a nearby water hole where the ladies decide it was an appropriate time to go skinny dipping. A sweet old man, Mr. Slausen, shows up to introduce himself as the owner of the nearby tourist museum and invites everyone over to stay while he helps them out. Just a small warning; don’t go next door because his brother is a little on the crazy side.
He shows everyone around and explains why the place is closed. He offers to help and while he’s out, people decide to go visit the house next door and start disappearing. This is where the movie really picks up and creeps me out.
The house next door is full of mannequins, creepy ones that seem to breathe and move. Davey meets everyone who shows up in the house wearing a creepy plaster moulded mask and easily gets catches his victims using telekinetic powers (that means he can move objects with his mind.) He’s Professor X if he chose to be a serial killer.
Davey using the mannequins to fuck with his victims really ramps up the creep factor for me. It also helps that some of the mannequins were originally people, he turns them into these realistic mannequins just so he has someone to talk to. Poor bastards. Mr. Slausen should call the police on this guy.
As silly as the movie may seem to read, it has a lot of positive factors to make it a successful horror movie. The setting of an old run down tourist spot in a remote location covered with mechanical mannequins is a great start. The unique twist with the killer having special powers making the rest of the cast virtually powerless to do anything against him. He has fun playing with his victims, scaring one so bad her heart explodes. The final act is full of suspense and story twists that some may see coming but still work well within the movie.
The cast play the typical stupid teenagers put into a situation they can’t escape. The movie belongs to Chuck Connors who plays Mr. Slausen as a kindly old man that wouldn’t hurt a fly but may know more than he’s letting on. He incorporates some subtle nuances to the character that you don’t notice until much later in the movie, but it pays off.
If screaming mannequins don’t bother you, the movie may not be your cup of tea. I, however, thought it was genuinely creepy and scary more often than not and consider it a must watch if you want to get the heebie-jeebies.
Story: 7 – A refreshing take on the usual slasher mode.
Blood: 4 – It’s a little light on the blood but you don’t always need blood to be scary.
Nudity: 0 – The director apparently tried to get the girls to show more skin while skinny dipping, they declined. Boo-urns.
Overall: 8 – An underrated gem but definitely a cult classic.
After submitting the film to the MPAA, the director was shocked to learn the movie only got a PG rating.
A sixth of the budget went to composer Pino Donaggio who created the film’s unique music style.
It’s never mentioned in the movie, but the killer’s nickname is “Plasterface.”
So what did composer Pino Donaggio get paid to make? This is main theme to the movie. Yay or nay?