Starring: Matthew Biancaniello, Sarah Berkowitz, Lorene Scafaria, David Langley, and Ray Jarrell
Director: Karl Kempter
Rating: Six of Ten Stars
"Mayhem Motel" defies summary. It is a collection of vignettes that are scrambled together to tell the story of a night of sex, murder, mayhem, and just plain weirdness. If one were to attempt to make sense of the film in order to take away a point to it, one would have to conclude the film was made to convey the messages that one should always keep one's motel room door bolted, and that sex with strangers kills--not because of venereal disease, but because of knives and guns. Oh, and there's also the moral that one shouldn't ever piss off a dwarf.
This is a film that is 100% unique viewing experience--and for that the world should be grateful.
First of all, "Mayhem Motel" contains the single most disgusting scene I've ever witnessed on film. It was so gross that I almost stopped the DVD when it occurred. The second scene of the movie has a character named Pukey in the credits (played by David Langley) settling into a tub and puking into the bathwater. He then proceeds to stir the water and vomit around him as he sits there. Whether that was actual vomit or some REALLY convincing special effects (and my money is on actual vomit... it simply too convincing not to be), the scene is so disgusting that it put me off my dinner. It almost put me off the rest of movie, but since it was so early on, I felt obligated to stick with it just a little longer. (As it turned out, I watched the whole thing.)
Second, "Mayhem Motel" is almost entirely plot-free. Each vignette has something of a story to it, but for each plot that is brought to an almost-conclusion, there are two that are left hanging, giving the overall movie a feel of a short story collection rather than a complete film. And I don't mean a collection of short films... I mean a collection of scenes like the ones you might have students write if you were teaching a writing workshop. They're interesting, they're pretty raw, but they're also for the most part utterly pointless except for invoking a momentary reaction in the viewer. While this approach did keep me watching, it's not one that I would want to see become commonplace.
That said, this film does feature some good acting, decent dialogue, and it moves along at a fast pace (with only the mime scene dragging a bit). The filmmakers obviously know their craft, and they know that they should put exactly what a scene needs onto the screen, and not a second more. Add that the fact that there are several hilarious moments (like both instances of a character choking to death during sex--in the "I know I shouldn't be laughing at this but I can't help" kind of way), and the end result is a movie that I find myself liking far more than is probably healthy.
Maybe my brain has finally rotted away due to all the Z-grade movies I watch? If "Mayhem Motel" had just a little more structure to it--the priest who we're introduced to at the beginning of the film should have been seen leaving the motel at daybreak the next day--I may even have given it a Seven-Star rating.
Although I still don't feel comfortable recommending anyone see it--although if you get it as part of the "Mental Maniacs" multi-DVD set as I did, you might as well give it a try--I still think but that "Mayhem Motel" has some impressive qualities to it. It MIGHT also be a suitable screener for a Bad Movie Night, if you have the right crowd. (I know that I'd never show this film to anyone *I* socialize with, but then I don't know everyone.)