I had a feeling that Mountaintop Motel Massacre was going to be a fun one...the trailer for the film has a montage of people just saying character names. So you get, like, 3 minutes of "Bobby?...Cindy?...Mr. Crenshaw?...Cujo?" Comedy gold, I tell ya. Plus, the Netflix sleeve describes it as a "drive-in gem". Works for me! Anyway, here it is: my recap of Mountaintop Motel Massacre. As always, SPOILERS ahoy, matey!
Right up front, I was pretty jazzed--we get a logo for New World Pictures. They were like the go-to guys for fun horror movies on home video in the '80's. Pin, House, Piranha(can't WAIT to see the remake!!!), CHUD, Dead Heat, Warlock...it was B-movie Heaven! They even had some pretty impressive cult classics under their belt, like Heathers and the first couple of Hellraiser films! Neat.
As usual, the credits are a "Who's Who?" of obscure nobodies. Best actor name award goes to "Major Brock". He's right up there with Private Embarassment, Colonel O'Corn, and General Disaster. They couldn't even do a Mindhunters and hire someone famous to do a glorified cameo. Dang.
The movie introduces us to its main character, Evelyn Chambers, right off the bat. A brief blurb of text tells us that she was committed to a mental hospital in 1978, but released 3 years later. Based on the genre, I'm a-gonna guess that was a bad decision. In the opening scene Evelyn is tending to a small garden, next to a weird, gruesome scarecrow. She freaks out when one of her daughter's pets gets into the garden, and kills it. The thing sprays more blood than Orson Welles' autopsy.
Lorrie, the daughter is every bit as nutty as her mother. As Mama is killing her pets, Lorrie is having a tea party with her dead daddy and her remaining pets, telling him that she thinks Evelyn needs to go back to the asylum. Evelyn catches her trying to summon her dead father via witchcraft and goes bonkers, destroying both the basement and her daughter in the process with a scythe.
She is horrified by what she's done, and drags her daughter upstairs to wrap her corpse up in a rug. Then she drops it off in the kitchen, makes it look like a suicide, and calls 911. A sheriff, 2 paramedics, and a local preacher(he apparently lives at the motel) all arrive at the scene. Everyone except the sheriff buys Evelyn's remorseful act. He waits until the day of Lorrie's funeral service to sneak around the motel and house, looking for signs of foul play. He doesn't find anything definitive, and decides to go get smashed.
We then meet our cast of oddball victims, all brought to the motel under weird circumstances: the preacher who was introduced in the previous scene befriends a handyman who needs a room for the night; a nervous young couple who eloped stop at the motel; and 2 teenaged girls who had car trouble are picked up by a sleazy smooth-talker(who looks like the love-child of Harry Anderson and "Gopher" from The Love Boat) on his way to the motel after the road is blocked by a fallen tree. I know NONE of their names, though I'm pretty sure they were all mentioned in that dumb scene in the trailer.
Using a series of trapdoors and underground tunnels, Evelyn brings each guest her own brand of "room service". In the eloped couple's room, for example, she leaves a sack containing a poisonous snake; in the room shared by the preacher and the black handyman, she delivers a swarm of insects; and in the room shared by the "record producer" and the 2 girls, she simply emerges through the trapdoor into their bathroom, where she stabs one of the girls to death and then drags away the body.
When she fails to join the planned 3-way, her friend and Gopher(who admits he just wanted a 3-way, to the shock and surprise of NOBODY) enter the bathroom and find that she has decided to re-decorate the room with her own blood. No sign of her, though.
At the same time, the newlyweds are planning their own night of debauchery, interrupted by the husband getting bitten by that gosh-darn snake. As his cheek starts swelling the size of a rhino, the wife panics and runs out to get help. She finds the menage a duh couple, and they all agree that this movie would be a great double feature with Motel Hell.
That brings us back to the 2 old guys. First, the preacher. He's passed out, drunk on his own brand of "holy water"(I never knew "Johnny Walker" was the 13th apostle...) when Evelyn comes up through the floor. With maniacal glee, she releases a small army of rats into the room, before ducking back down into her tunnel. The preacher is pretty oblivious, until one of the rats gives him a small nip. He wakes up, freaks out, then does the most awesome thing yet in this movie--he kills the rats by bashing them with his bible. Fan-friggin'-tastic.
The handyman is then subjected to Evelyn's NEXT gross-out: bugs. The guy wakes up after they begin crawling all over his body and face. He freaks the hell out, and meets everyone else. The sleazy non-producer of music, meanwhile, reaches Evelyn's office and searches for her. He finds the place empty, of course, but is creeped out by the feeling that he has walked into the wrong porno. Smart guy. If he plays his cards right, maybe Evelyn can help him out with his 3-way.
While Gopher's playing detective, the preacher is attacked by Evelyn. She basically was hiding in his room, waiting for the handyman and Gopher to leave them alone. She stabs him through the chest, but seems remorseful. Weird.
Gopher goes back to Menage a Duh, and tries to make her feel better by revealing that he's in advertising, not showbiz. Big shock. While he's baring his soul, the newlyweds discover that the snake bite is getting worse: his vision's going downhill, and he's not very clear-headed. I'd say that makes him an excellent candidate for re-writing the script.
The handyman decides to get outta Dodge, but not before taking a massive dump. As he's sitting there trying to squeeze a loaf out, he sees one of Evelyn's trapdoors start to open. Thinking quickly, he slams it shut and uses his tools to nail it shut. FINALLY, someone has a good idea!
He pays a visit to the reverend's room, but finds only a blood-stained rat in there. Next, he knocks on Gopher's door, to show him the trapdoors. They decide that the best course of action would be to find and nail down the ones in all the other units., which freaks Menage a Duh out. She agrees to lock the door and wait for them to return, though, so she can't be THAT freaked out.
The guys go to Evelyn's office to take a look around, and find that, like most of the motel units, the walls are a shrine to the dead daughter, Lorrie. They also find all of the cages and jars the creepy critters have come from. After nailing most of the trapdoors shut, the Einstein brothers decide that they should leave one open, so that they can go in after her. Yeah. Whatever. They check back in with the newlyweds to make sure he hasn't died yet, then leave to re-open one of the trapdoors.
The NANOSECOND they leave, Evelyn pops up in the honeymoon suite. She stabs her scythe through the bride's face, then yanks it out of her to attack the husband. He tries to fight back, but is no match for her in his weak state. She plunges her blade through his heart and sneaks away before the Clue Crew can return. (that's pretty funny, by the way: when the 2 guys burst back in, Gopher makes this goofy-as-heck face and starts waving his flashlight around at random. I almost want to assume it's from some blooper reel, and someone just added it in by mistake)
The Dorknamic Duo agree that their best plan is to go down into the tunnels after Evelyn. Gopher goes back to his room first, to put on his bulletproof sweater and tell Menage a Duh to lock herself in his car, the car with the World's Bulkiest Phone. Feeling safer with his lucky sweater on, Gopher descends into the tunnel. The plan is simple: He goes in on his side of the tunnel, the handyman goes in on his side, and they try to trap Evelyn between them. For a 3-way. Excuse me, I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.
While Menage a Duh hides out in the car, Gopher and the handyman start out on their mission. The black guy, in a long-standing slasher tradition, is the next to die. Don't ask why, it's just how it's done, dagnabbit! Anyway, Evelyn chops off the black guy's hand. This reveals the first major plot twist: the black guy was a ZOMBIE! How else do you explain the fact tht his severed hand is GREY?
The sheriff finds the girl in the car and "rescues" her, by which I mean he removes her from the relative safety of the car and forces her to lead him back to her room. She shows him the hatch in her floor, and down he goes. In under 2 minutes he manages to crack the case, finding the room with all of the bodies. Excellent work, Columbo. Interestingly, there are also numerous pictures of evil pig-heads, making me wonder once again about the similarities between this and Motel Hell.
Trying to avoid capture, Evelyn hides behind a wall in a secret room. The room is filled with her daughter's "art", and Lorrie's ghost even shows up for a visit. Unfortunately the sheriff breaks up the reunion, and Evelyn tries to kill him. In the process, she gets her blade stuck in a ceiling plank. Taking advantage of her distraction, the sheriff tries to grab her arms but she fights back, and during their fight, she slams into a wall. This loosens up the wooden beams, and she winds up getting slashed across the throat by her own weapon. Evelyn dies, but not before a final "jump" scare.
The movie ends with an odd final scene: After rejoining the young couple, the sheriff needlessly upsets Menage a Duh by telling them that they are the only survivors of the MOUNTAINTOP MOTEL MASSACRE!!! As they all get into the police car, we see someone running through the woods, just an unknown pair of feet. It turns out to be Lorrie's ghost. She shows up before they drive off, and seems to make the car get stuck in a muddy pothole...but they get unstuck and drive off anyway. Effective use of ghost-powers, Lorrie!
Anyway, as they drive past the motel, the "Vacancy" sign turns on. For some reason, this got me snickering. I mean, the sheriff didn't exactly call for back-up or rope off the crime scene. Can you imagine what the reaction's going to be for the next tired motorist who decides to stop there??? Plus, who the heck is left to check anyone in, Lorrie's ghost? She can't even stop the previous 3 dingbats from leaving!
So, there you have it: a strange ending to a strange movie, and my sanity (mostly) remains intact! 4 killer trees out of 5, just for the weirdness. Mountaintop Motel Massacre taught me:
-That I can watch a movie 2x, and STILL barely recall anyone's names afterwards! Guess I should've paid more attention to the trailer, huh?
-Ghosts just want to fulfill their dreams of being small-business owners.
-Gopher and Harry Anderson had a love child!
-I need to see Motel Hell again, and soon! Hell yeah!
Next up: A slasher movie set in a bowling alley. Gutterballs, here I come!