Director: Bud Townsend
Writer: Allen Actor
From: Cult Cinema
A young woman wins a vacation at a remote hotel only to learn the proprietors have grisly plans for her.
Regina doesn’t have any money to take a trip during her school’s break, but receives a letter telling her she’s won a vacation from a contest she didn’t enter. Because that’s totally a thing that happens and not a cause for concern at all. She’s taken to the Red Wolf Inn, an old hotel run by Evelyn and Henry with the help of their grandson “Baby.”
Two other women are there when Regina arrives: Pamela, who’s leaving the next day, and Edwina. They all sit down to a lavish dinner where they feast on a plate of ribs. Lots of attention given to eating these ribs. Golly, they’re really enjoying eating that meat. Just lip-smackingly good eating going on there. Really savoring every bite of this mystery meat. Not even bothering to cut it up, just holding onto the bone and going to town. Getting every bite they can, not even slowing down to swallow between bites, just full-on chipmunking that meat. Oh boy, are they eating up some meat.
I’m not embellishing, that’s still summarizing the movie. The scene lasts, literally, four full minutes. The movie itself is only seventy-seven minutes long. More than five percent of the movie is this scene. There’s no background music, no dialogue, just constant shots of everyone chowing down on this dish. If eating (or padding) is your fetish, oh boy, will you enjoy this movie. After they finish the meat, Evelyn brings out desert and they all start eating cake. This is in addition to the four minutes, and, yes, they eat the entire cake.
By the way, have you guessed the twist yet? Long long shot of them eating meat? That’s right: cannibals! It’s not hard to guess and it’s not a surprise when it’s revealed. The movie is mostly waiting for them to just say what they imagine they’re keeping secret so we can all get on with our lives.
Anyway, Regina is starting to crush on Baby who vacillates between being uncomfortable about the women’s inevitable fate (better movie) and a screeching man-child with a mental disability. The two of them have lunch on the beach, start to kiss, and then a fish takes the bait from Baby’s rod. He reels in a shark and starts screaming “shark!” while holding it by the tail and smashing its head against the rocks. After he punches it a bit, he stands up, looks at Regina, and says, “I think I love you.” Then walks away.
We never come back to this moment! It’s never referenced again and it doesn’t put Regina off of Baby. It is hilarious. Spoiler alert, I’m not going to recommend this movie, but I recommend finding that scene.
Now it’s Edwina’s last night, big party, then she’s kidnapped by the family and butchered in the walk-in freezer. The next day, Regina gets suspicious that Edwina didn’t say goodbye, tries to escape when a cop shows up, but the cop is also one of Evelyn and Henry’s grandchildren. He’s not mentioned before and never shows up again. Regina goes into the freezer, finds Pamela and Edwina’s heads, flees, flags down a car, but it turns out to be driven by Evelyn and Henry.
On Regina’s last night, Baby rebels, shouting at Evelyn that he wants Regina. The couple tries to escape, fails, Baby seems to make amends with his grandparents, and blood splatters on nearby plants as Henry walks towards Regina waving a butcher’s knife. Cut to the house the next day and Regina is dressed as a homemaker, serving food to Baby while singing a song. The freezer door opens revealing the severed heads of Evelyn and Henry. At the end of the credits, Henry’s head looks at the camera and winks. THE END.
Some of you may be saying about the final description of Regina finding help only to have it be the cannibal family, the grandson of which being a shrieking monster, “Isn’t that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre?” To which I’d reply, yes, but that movie had style, tension, and a discomfiting strangeness that seeped into your skin leaving you feeling unclean afterwards. Also, that came out in 1974 and this is from 1972.
I’m not suggesting Tobe Hooper ripped this movie off. I’m suggesting The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a much better movie. I was legitimately surprised at how much the final act of this lined up with Chainsaw, though. I also suggest you take my word on that instead of watching this to see for yourself.
This is a Bud Townsend picture (director of Coach, The Beach Girls, and Nightmare in Wax). I previously said of Bud Townsend that “his vision as an auteur had always been to strip away the interesting parts of a film and leave the audience bored.” The same is true here. After the interminable dinner scene, we get a dream sequence that, while poorly shot, is compelling. Regina is having a sex dream about Baby, but it’s intercut with another dream of her eating a massive cake while sitting at a dinner table on the beach. It’s the one moment of visual inventiveness in the movie and the one thing unique to this picture.
In fact, I spent most of the movie thinking how much better it’d be if it were directed by Dario Argento. The movie needed a strange dreamy logic, especially if it wants to have its ending of Regina somehow flipping everything, surviving, and then continuing the family tradition.
And it ends with a wink! Just like Legacy of Blood, the last movie I watched, this ends with a wink, like the whole movie’s been a joke that the movie itself was aware of. Only no part of the movie was (intentionally) funny. There was no joke! So why the wink? And how do I get two of those in a row?!
I’ve written over a thousand words about this movie when there’s nothing worth saying about it. It sucks. Don’t watch it.