About Your Privacy on this Site
Welcome! To bring you the best content on our sites and applications, Meredith partners with third party advertisers to serve digital ads, including personalized digital ads. Those advertisers use tracking technologies to collect information about your activity on our sites and applications and across the Internet and your other apps and devices.
You always have the choice to experience our sites without personalized advertising based on your web browsing activity by visiting the DAA’s Consumer Choice page, the NAI's website, and/or the EU online choices page, from each of your browsers or devices. To avoid personalized advertising based on your mobile app activity, you can install the DAA’s AppChoices app here. You can find much more information about your privacy choices in our privacy policy. Even if you choose not to have your activity tracked by third parties for advertising services, you will still see non-personalized ads on our sites and applications. By clicking continue below and using our sites or applications, you agree that we and our third party advertisers can:
  • transfer your data to the United States or other countries; and
  • process and share your data so that we and third parties may serve you with personalized ads, subject to your choices as described above and in our privacy policy.
Entertainment Weekly

Untold Stories

Tourist Trap star recalls shooting gruesome death scene: 'This darned role almost traumatized me!'

Posted on

To read more from EW’s Untold Stories issue, pick up the new Entertainment Weekly on stands now, or buy it here. Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

In director David Schmoeller’s 1979 film Tourist Trap, a group of college-age kids are terrorized at a mannequin-filled roadside attraction owned by Mr. Slausen (Chuck Connors) and his brother, Davey (who is really Slausen in a mask). Although the film was rated PG, there is nothing kiddie-friendly about the scene in which Davey literally scares the strapped-to-a-table Tina (Dawn Jeffory-Nelson) to death by smothering her face in plaster. Below, the actress recalls shooting this nightmarish moment.

DAWN JEFFORY-NELSON: This darned role almost traumatized me! I could not get off of that damn table. I’d hop up there and [the props person] would buckle me down with handcuffs or whatever, and I believe there was also a rope across my body, or another belt. So that in itself is kind of crazy. You feel very vulnerable.

On the comic side, there were so many mannequins and body parts all over the set, that they would sometimes forget that that was a “real” me. I mean, literally, I had people lean on me. One time, they all left me there. Lunch was called and everybody ran off to lunch. And I’m yelling, “Hey, you guys, unstrap me!” David Schmoeller, the director, was a doll. He was very supportive and he would remember to ask if I was okay. [Laughs] So, that was the funny side of being in a set peopled with mannequins.

It was either mashed potatoes or whipped cream being put on my face. I can’t remember which. I probably had to act out my death five to eight times. Not having suffocated or died of a heart attack — thank God! — I did some research on the breathing and what happens to the body. You suspend your disbelief, and you go for it.

I don’t think the film was very well reviewed, but many more people than I ever suspected love the film, which is awesome. I was the acting coach for the young boy who played Danny in the miniseries of The Shining. One of the things I found out was that this was one of Stephen King’s favorite films. But it still is a surprise to me. None of us thought it was going to become a cult classic!

Watch the trailer for Tourist Trap, above.