There was a time, in the not too distant past, that every time a birthday, holiday, or other special occasion occurred I would be gifted with the presentation of boxes full of crappy or public domain horror films. I should clarify, when I say ‘boxes’ I mean those collected movie box sets that include 35 different films encased in paper envelopes. Perhaps you’ve purchased them yourself? Well, if not, your local Best Buy has tons of them. You should invest. There are numerous hidden gems in them.
I’m discussing these box sets because it was in one of these sets that I witnessed the worst film I have ever seen. Mayhem Motel. Now, full disclosure: these box sets are populated by cinematic trash. I’m talking about movies made for no money, with no actors, and now film. Don’t ask me how they do it, but they do. And I watch them. Because they’re that bad.
So, back to our subject, Mayhem Motel may be the worst movie I have ever seen. I have seen hundreds if not thousands of terrible films and I enjoy them all. But Mayhem Motel is deferent. There are very, very few redeeming attributes about the so-called film and yet I am compelled to ritualistically re-watch it. I’ve shown it to friends and family members. I’ve let people I barely know borrow it. Because the film is so bad that is simply must be consumed.
The levels of enjoyment that Mayhem Motel provides should not be confused with the guilty pleasures that are the likes of Chopping Mall and Plan 9 From Outer Space. Oh, no. Mayhem Motel is more like a carnival freak show.
Let me give you an example, the writer of the film, Mathew Biancaniello, plays not one character but six characters. Each time merely donning a fake mustache or sunglasses, in the vague hopes that he will not be recognized by the obvious. The most perplexing element of this is that it doesn’t feel purposeful. It’s not a nutty professor situation. It feels like they cast other people and then they didn’t show up on the day of shooting and the director turned to the writer and said, “Matt, get in there. And here, wear this hat. Nobody is gonna recognize you with this hat on, dude.” It’s utterly insane. To say nothing of the fact that he is playing a mime, a pimp, a painter and a businessman among others.
The film’s loose plot revolves around the events that transpire within a motel. And well, that’s as specific as you can really get without spoiling everything. The film is split into pseudo-vignettes. They’re all bizarre and unnerving. The strangest part of the film, even with necrophilia, murder, and prostitution, is still the fact that Biancaniello plays so many roles. It almost becomes a where’s waldo-like witch-hunt.
To say that the film has a low production quality or that it is uneven would be to be doing a disservice to people with brains. One almost gets the sense the filmmakers weren’t even concerned with pacing or tension or quality. They took a more art school/performance art approach to the craft of filmmaking. One gets the sense that creative decisions once made were not questioned but rather regarded with a bizarre sense of dogma.
Inexplicably, I have avuncular feelings for this film. I first encountered it in college, not the best time for me. I would organize screening parties and show it to five or ten of my friends at the time. We would all marvel at the spectacle of insanity that it presented. I’m not sure what’s more captivating; the creator’s blatant non-interest in quality or the bizarre fact Biancaniello performs six roles.
Overall, any individual who considers themselves moderately culturally wayfaring should invest in Mayhem Motel. If for no other reason than the bizarre spectacle of it. I’m not entirely sure of the intentions of the people who made it. I’m not sure if they intended to make a good film at the beginning but then halfway through decided to shit the bed or if the goal of Mayhem Motel is an attempt at something more subversive. Maybe their intension was to make a response to the endless string of big budget blockbuster movies that Hollywood insists on churning out? I’m not sure. And I’d be willing to wager that you won’t be either.