A warped, schizophrenic journey into the dark recess of the mind – David Schmoeller’s Tourist Trap is a fragmented piece of cult cinema dripping in masked mayhem and macabre mannequins. Released in 1979, instead of the cliches of maniacal knife wielders that plagued the genre in the following decades – the film revelled in using elements of suspense, eerie cinematography and a deeply unsettling score courtesy of Italian composer Pino Donaggio. After tracking down the original masters and re working them perfectly for the vinyl grooves, WaxWorks contracted Marc Schoenbach, artist from Sadist Art Designs – whose deadpan delivery was essential in carving out the lush visual imagery that mirrored the bleak but beautiful audio within.
Reflecting upon how he got caught up within the Tourist Trap reissue, Schoenbach explained “when I quit my job as a psychologist (okay, I was fired, but they asked me to come back and I said no), I wanted to push my design company to the fullest extent. I am really into grassroot companies that specialize in horror and WaxWork Records was on my radar from the start. I knew they were just beginning, having released only a few titles by that point. I knew that one day I would design for them – I just didn’t know when. I had contacted them about a year prior. I hadn’t heard back from them for some time and then one day, when I least expected it, they contacted me to do Tourist Trap.”
Ingrained in the mind like a nightmare, Schoenbach was well educated in regards to the source material – having discovered the film during a bout of sleep deprived channel surfing. “Like so many people, I first saw Tourist Trap one night on late night TV” he informs. “ I think it was like 2am, or something and it was on. It was the very beginning, the part where the first victim is in this room and all this stuff comes alive and shit starts getting really spooky. I don’t know why, but I found it so fucking unsettling, like more intense than anything I had seen. Tourist Trap is a creepy, disturbing film and one of my all time favorite horror movies.”
Brewing up a caffeinated concoction of high string ideas for the cover art, Schoenbach and WaxWorks sparred minds and architected an alluring, morbid collection of visuals. “I originally wanted to do the main cover as this simple creepy mask with handkerchief and nothing else” he explains. I figured it’d be iconic and terrifying on your shelf. WaxWorks dug it at first but then, after thinking about it, wanted to see more art. So we added “Slausens Lost Oasis” and I actually liked it better.”
Taking to the concept with his digital pencil case, Schoenbach notes “Like a lot of my art, I’m inspired by 70s and 80s handpainted art. At first I wanted to go with this photorealistic neon/fog approach. But once again, WaxWork steered me in the right direction. It’s a film from the late 70s so there was really no reason to hit it with neon and fog. The final art is designed to look grungy and 70s.” In regards to the covers timeline, Schoenbach humbly informs “I work slow. Too slow unfortunately. I may work on a particular part of the art for hours and hours because I must feel and love EVERY aspect of the piece. All in all, I want to say it took a few weeks.”
Schoenbach’s approach to the Tourist Trap cover art channels the grindhouse/retro horror posters from yesteryear. Stepped in feelings of trepidation, there is an remarkable handling of light and spatial relationships between the “Slausens Lost Oasis” and the foreboding shadow of Mr. Slausen. Dripping in dark moods, superb use of shading and realistic color choice around the mask make it almost appear lifelife – which is in stark juxtaposition to the dehumanizing, empty quality of the eyes. The bleak but detailed back cover art again treads the fine line between menacingly mortal and sadistic soullessness – with the mannequins lively eyes staring daggers at the viewer.
Adding Tourist Trap to their already venemous collection of vinyl re-issues, Schoenbach positively reflects back on the WaxWork commission, stating “ I am very happy with the final product. I can’t wait to get my hands on it and spin the fucker. I want people to buy the thing without seeing the film because they loved the art so much. That’s how I know I did my job. The dudes from WaxWorks are passionate about their product, and that includes artwork. I think their input helped me to make the cover even better!”
Etching up an appealing case of Automatonophobia – Schoenbach’s sublime sketches complete and complement the shuddersome score held within.Luring in the listeners with it’s baiting baroque tones and breathtaking visuals, the Tourist Trap soundtrack makes for a moody, meloncholic and truly unnerving experience.