Mountaintop Motel Massacre
|Mountaintop Motel Massacre|
Original poster, as Mountaintop Motel
|Directed by||Jim McCullough Sr.|
|Produced by||Jim McCullough Sr.|
|Written by||Jim McCullough Sr.|
|Music by||Ron Di Iulio|
|Cinematography||Joseph M. Wilcots|
|Edited by||Mindy Daucus|
|Distributed by||New World Pictures|
Mountaintop Motel Massacre (originally released under the titles Mountaintop Motel and Horrors at Mountaintop Motel)[a] is a 1983 American independent horror film written and directed by Jim McCullough Sr. and starring Anna Chappell, Bill Thurman, and Amy Hill. The plot concerns a psychotic elderly woman who, after being freed from incarceration, returns to the motel she ran and begins murdering the guests.
Filmed in 1983, Mountaintop Motel Massacre was not given a wide theatrical release until 1986 when it was bought for distribution by Roger Corman's film company, New World Pictures. Although the film received negative critical reception upon its theatrical release, it has, in later years, been noted for its offbeat atmosphere, and has been referred to as an "early 1980s drive-in gem."
In rural Louisiana in 1981, Evelyn, who has recently been released from a psychiatric institution, finds her daughter Lorie practicing witchcraft in their basement. This causes her to snap, and she stabs Lorie to death. She manages to convince the authorities that she had nothing to do with her daughter's death. Adjacent to her home is the Mountaintop Motel, a group of outdoor cabins that Evelyn rented out as motel rooms prior to her institutionalization.
One morning, Reverend Bill McWiley arrives at the property and rents one of the rooms. Shortly after, a man named Robin Crewshaw arrives and also takes a room; the two men converse about the rundown state of the cabins and share a drink. Meanwhile, newlyweds Vernon and Tanya are passing through on a road trip, and rent a cabin. Cousins Prissy and Tanya have their car breakdown nearby en route to Nashville, and are picked up by Al, who claims to be a record producer in hopes of bedding both of the women. They also arrive at the motel, finding driving conditions unsafe due to a torrential rainstorm.
While Vernon and Mary have sex, Vernon is bitten by a snake that Evelyn planted in the room; Al uses his car phone to call the police for the couple, hoping to get an ambulance. The various guests have trouble sleeping in their rooms: Reverend McWiley, passed out from drinking, is awoken by rats crawling on his bed, and Crewshaw awakens to cockroaches crawling on his body. Tanya nurses Al, who grows progressively ill; meanwhile, Al attempts to initiate sex with Tanya and Prissy, but the girls lock themselves in the bathroom and argue over his claims of being a record producer. Tanya tells Prissy she is willing to sleep with him if it will result in a record deal, and she begins to have sex with Vernon while Prissy remains in the bathroom.
While in front of the bathroom vanity, Prissy is attacked by Evelyn, who has accessed the room through an underground tunnel running beneath the cabins, her throat slit with a sickle. Startled by the noise, Tanya opens the bathroom door, and finds the room covered in blood, but Prissy gone. Al notifies Mary, Reverend McWiley, and Crewshaw of Prissy's disappearance. Crewshaw inadvertently uncovers a trapdoor in the bathroom; with Al, they attempt to locate Evelyn, but find her absent from the main office. Meanwhile, Evelyn breaches Mary and Vernon's room; with the sickle, she impales Mary through the face, and then slashes Vernon's throat as he lies helplessly in the bed. Al and Crewshaw hear the commotion outside and find the bodies in the room while Evelyn retreats into the tunnels via a trapdoor.
Al and Crewshaw go into the tunnels below, while Tanya locks herself inside the car. Crewshaw is attacked by Evelyn, who dismembers his hand before slashing his throat. Meanwhile, a sheriff finally arrives at the motel from Al's earlier call, and Tanya informs him of the murders. The sheriff descends into the tunnels, and discovers the Reverend's body. He is confronted by Evelyn, who attacks him in a manic state; she attempts to wrest the sickle from a wooden post where it is hanging, but in effect dislodges a beam holding the ceiling; it collapses, and the sickle hurls at Evelyn's throat, killing her.
At dawn, Al and Tanya leave with the sheriff in his car. As they drive out of the property, an apparition of Evelyn's daughter Lorie observes them from the woods. As they pull onto the main road, the vacancy sign lights up.
- Anna Chappell as Evelyn
- Bill Thurman as Reverend Bill McWiley
- Will Mitchell as Al
- Virginia Loridans as Tanya
- Major Brock as Crewshaw
- James Bradford as Sheriff
- Amy Hill as Prissy
- Marian Jones as Mary
- Gregg Brazzel as Vernon
- Jill King as Lorie
The film initially received a regional theatrical release, opening in Opelousas, Louisiana on July 15, 1983 under the title Mountaintop Motel. It was released again in Jackson, Mississippi under the title Horrors at Mountaintop Motel on December 14, 1984.
It was given a wide release beginning on March 14, 1986 when it was picked up for distribution by New World Pictures, and retitled Mountaintop Motel Massacre. Under New World's distribution, it would later show at theaters in New York City in May and June 1986.
Nina Darnton of The New York Times gave the film a negative review, calling it a "slice-and-dice film for people who like to see movies where actors pretend to carve up, mutilate, disfigure, terrify and kill one another, but it will even disappoint them. The story is too silly, the murders too predictable and unimaginative, the blood too phony and the acting too much on the level of a bad high school play to send so much as a shiver down anyone's spine." TV Guide's review of the film was largely negative, comparing the gore effects to those of Herschell Gordon Lewis, and writing: "The filmmakers do have some sense of visual style, but a slasher film is a slasher film no matter how good it looks."
The film was released on VHS in August 1986. Anchor Bay Entertainment released it on DVD in 2001. The DVD eventually went out of print, and the film was largely unavailable until being re-issued by Image Entertainment's "Midnight Madness" series in September 2011.
- Original local theater advertisements from the Vista Village Cinema 4 in Opelousas, Louisiana, and the Meadowbrook 6 in Jackson, Mississippi, show the film screened in 1983 and 1984, respectively, under different titles. The film was released under New World Pictures in 1986 under the Mountaintop Motel Massacre title.
- Stine, Scott Aaron (2003). The Gorehound’s Guide to Splatter Films of the 1980s. McFarland. pp. 193–4. ISBN 978-1-476-61132-7.
- "Movie Ads of the Week: MOUNTAINTOP MOTEL (1983) a.k.a. HORRORS AT MOUNTAINTOP MOTEL (1984) and MOUNTAINTOP MOTEL MASSACRE (1986)". Temple of Schlock. 11 December 2016. Archived from the original on 1 January 2017. Retrieved 20 September 2017.
- Darnton, Nina (17 May 1986). "SCREEN: 'MOTEL MASSACRE'". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
- Westfahl, Gary. "Roger Corman (1926-) American director and producer". Gary Westfahl's Bio-Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Film. Retrieved 16 September 2017.
- "Mountaintop Motel Massacre". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
- "Mountaintop Motel Massacre". MUBI.com. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
- "Mountaintop Motel Massacre (1986)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 20 September 2017.
- Mountaintop Motel Massacre [DVD]. Anchor Bay Entertainment. 2001. The film's credits thank the Shreveport, Louisiana fire department as well as Caddo Parish.
- Mannikka, Eleanor. "Mountaintop Motel Massacre". Allmovie. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
- "Movies". New York Magazine. June 2, 1986. p. 80.
- "Mountaintop Motel Massacre". TV Guide. Retrieved 20 September 2017.
- "Bed'n Breakfast and Burial". Billboard: N-19. 16 August 1986 – via Google Books.