Part Tourist Trap, part Psycho, Mountaintop Motel Massacre lacks the charm of the former and the direction of latter.
We’re in small-town Louisiana at some roadside dumpy motel (the kind that “steal your towels” according to the late, great Rodney Dangerfield).
Our antagonist, Evelyn, is released from a looney-bin and returns to her place of business. When she finds her daughter practicing witchcraft in the basement of their nearby house (this involves having a rabbit and a goat as dining companions for some as yet unperformed ritual) Evelyn the sicko sickles her to death.
Bayou cops quickly descend, but as quickly as they turn up, they bail, satisfied by Evelyn’s explanation that her daughter died in a bizarre gardening accident (a la one of the numerous early-demise mishaps suffered by Spinal Tap’s various time-keepers). Slipping and falling on a sharp gardening implement doesn’t seem worthy of a coroner report, but what do we know? We’re not carrying a badge.
Evelyn is soon back in business Norman Bates-style (actually, this one is a bit similar to the unheralded, but more than competent Psycho sequel). And gruesome Procrustean innkeepers need victims, right? And what better way to ensure there’s a steady stream than one of the hoariest cliches in all of movie-making: the downed tree blocking the road! (sure, pedants may quibble that the road being washed out by a flash flood is close competition).
Either way, a disparate patron demographic show up to the motel in question with no way to leave, and thunder-claps aplenty. The cast of characters includes: an old black carpenter, a drunk preacher who resembles a bloated William Conrad (Cannon/Gunsmoke), a Memphis ad-man/con-man, a couple of White Trash honeymooners, and two wanna-be country warblers in tight jeans whose bug broke down.
Evelyn begins to take them out, Ten Little Indians style, hiding in a crawlspace and using various creepy-crawlers from around the premises, snakes, rats, roaches (the latter at least thematically on-point for a motel) to torment her tenants. There’s also a bizarre subplot about two of the girls auditioning for the ad-man, who later admits he’s not really a Columbia Records exec and that it was part of a ruse to get one (or both) of the girls in the sack. Unfortunately, we’re witness to the girls’ singing a few frames in, and let’s just say they couldn’t carry a tune even in zero-gravity.
Plodding and idiotic, Mountaintop Motel Massacre nonetheless features 10 minutes of solid atmosphere and it should be said a pretty whiz-bang soundtrack. But what about the other 80 minutes?
Trusty viewers/readers, lead-foot it to a Motel 6 instead, where at least they’ll leave a light on for you (much of this one is shrouded in murky darkness).
** (out of 5)
[Listen to our discussion of Mountaintop Motel Massacre on the Really Awful Movies Podcast!]