|Index||3 reviews in total|
'Murder Motel' brings Thriller's fifth series to a rather damp end and
is one of weakest episodes in the entire run. There are some decent
comic touches and reasonably competent acting performances but the
whole premise is entirely implausible and somewhat confusing.
It begins with a homage (albeit a gender swap) to Alfred Hitchcock's 'Psycho' with a businessman checking into the motel and being stabbed as he showers. It appears that the motel is used as a place for contract killings and beneath the affable veneer of the owner Sam (played by Derek Francis, of 'K is For Killing' and 'Who Killed Lamb?' fame) lies a steely heart that is only warmed by the prospect of money.
Michael Spencer and his sister Helen arrive at the hotel with the aim of meeting a work colleague (Charles Burns - played by Edward Judd who also shone in 'Sign It Death') of Michael's that they suspect is involved in an internal embezzlement of company funds. Both parties fall foul to the motel's murderous staff and it later transpires that Burns is up to his neck in fraud and conspiracy. Michael's fiancé Kathy - an attractive American girl checks in at the motel in an attempt to solve the mystery but from then on it just unravels into forced dramatics and a weak conclusion.
In mitigation the story will keep you entertained and there is a wonderful appearance from Alan McClelland as a sleazy private investigator whose services are engaged by Kathy. His meeting with Sam is particularly inopportune. Gillian McCutcheon also lights up the screen as Burns' secretary who is revealed to be as corrupt as her boss.
This episode is one of the highlights of the final series. It has a tense storyline that will keep you on the edge of your seat right up to the very cleverly done final scene. OK, there are one or two dodgy acting performances, but they don't detract too much from the well written script.The storyline is so gripping, you feel that you want the story to run a lot longer than it actually does. The Derek Francis line 'He called himself an opportunist, but he called at a most inopportune time' is one of the moments of light relief. I remember watching this episode when it was first aired in 1976, and subsequently being wary of Motels for many years afterwards! A fine series from first episode to last, get the entire series on DVD while you can!
The "Thriller" anthology is excellent but this outing was the start of
a relative decline that continued with one very fine exception
throughout the final season. Fans are divided on this episode but I
consider it to be one of the weakest. It is still respectable
television but pales in comparison to its counterparts.
It opens with a businessman checking into a hotel. Soon after-wards knife-men enter his room. We next see him dead in the shower with blood running down the plughole in an obvious echo of "Psycho". Later an accountant moves in, investigating a possible fraud. He soon disappears to the consternation of his sister who just has time to inform his fiancée before she too is dispatched. She comes looking for him and becomes embroiled in a tale of financial skulduggery and murder.
The performances are quite flat and uninspired. However the chief problem is the story. It seems uncertain whether to be a straight drama or a comedy-drama. The Hitchcock parody, which also includes shots of screeching birds, suggests an attempt at comedy but it is never done whole-heartedly; at the same time the story doesn't really work as a straight thriller.
This is epitomised by the character of Sam, the hotel manager, played by Derek Francis. Francis was a fine comic actor as he had splendidly demonstrated in an earlier and very successful comic story "K Is For Killing". There are flashes of the same quality here but they aren't fulfilled. There is one truly memorable moment when Sam eliminates an over-inquisitive private eye. Sam says, "He called himself an opportunist. Unfortunately for him he called at a most inopportune time." This private eye is played by Allan McClelland. It is a small role but a very enigmatic and intriguing one that leads to some strong scenes.
The ending to the story includes a very silly final shot that symbolises its confused identity. However viewers are still advised to give it a look as there are others who have liked it.
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