Hidden Gem at the Mountaintop (a.k.a. How The Fuck Did Everyone Miss This?)

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Thanks to the double wonderful Jen and Tom P for throwing this one my way! I got WAY more out of this than I expected! This 1986 film by Jim McCullough Sr. received mostly negative reviews upon it’s initial release, but found it’s way under the “Cult Classic” Umbrella. On the surface, it is an un-pretentious slasher film. The story concerns Evelyn, a widowed mother who is also a former mental patient. After losing her temper, Evelyn accidentally kills her young daughter Lorri, who just so happens to be invoking spirits in the hidden tunnels beneath the Motel. Yes, you read that right. I’ll come back to this. Evelyn drags the body topside and tells police it was a freak gardening accident, no charges are laid but at the funeral, Evelyn’s spiral into madness continues as she hears the accusing voices of the mourners in her head. Opening the Motel for business will not allow life to return to normal, as Evelyn is haunted by the voice of her Daughter, urging her to kill her guests, which she does, using the underground tunnels to slip between rooms undetected, first tormenting her guests with snakes, insects and rodents then dispatching her victims with a sickle. Straightforward low budget Slasher flick, right? WRONG! Back this shit up!

At the beginning of the film, we see Lorri in the tunnels invoking spirits, and praying to her dead father, she has rodents and snakes for pets (familiars), has an Ouija board in her room, and has done several drawings depicting the transformation from man to horrific beast, and of devils. Young Lorri has been dabbling in the Dark Arts! *cue Harry Potter music* How long has this been going on? How did it start, and for what purpose? Did this have anything to do with her Father’s death? After doing a little digging into other reviews, I haven’t found anyone else who clued into this angle, so I’m either brilliant or bonkers. Fuck it. If we take what we have learned from movies and TV, we can assume that Lorri has opened the door to the spirit world, whether she knew what she was doing or not, and the rest of the film is the result of her meddling. My Theory is that She was trying to contact her deceased father and something else crept through and possessed Evelyn. Historically, before we knew about things like mental illness, these maladies were chalked up to demonic possession. Was Evelyn mentally ill before the possession? Or was it the possession that prompted her stay in the Mental Hospital? Who knows. When Evelyn attempts to stop her daughter’s invocation, she loses control and ends up killing her daughter. I saw this as the demon seizing an opportunity to silence the one who called it up, thus preventing it from being banished again! Hearing the voices is how the Demon torments and influences Evelyn, driving her to commit murder! *throws record with Harry Potter music far off into the distance, then cues up Exorcist soundtrack, sits back in rocking chair by candle light and lets this all sink in*

At one point, as some soon to be doomed guests are driving up to the Motel, a large White dog appears out of nowhere, darts in front of their vehicle and causes them to swerve. was this an omen to turn back? As Evelyn kills a priest, she shouts “Out, Devil”. On the surface, this is the outburst of a disturbed woman, but I saw it as Evelyn struggling to regain control of herself. She tries to stop herself from killing by commanding it out, but she is not strong enough. Take a close look at Evelyn’s face in the final tunnel scene. Doesn’t she look far more sickly and haggard than she did mere moments before?

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Didn’t the same thing happen to Regan in The Exorcist? As the survivors leave the Motel, a brief glimpse of Lorri can be seen watching them leave, then vanishes without a trace. Is this her spirit now relieved to be at piece? Look closer. Her features are dark and ghoulish, I think it is the Demon that possessed Evelyn manifesting in it’s last form, searching for a new host. I could be waaaaaay off base with all of this. Maybe it is just a simple slasher film. Watch it again, and decide for yourself.

4/10 sickles, 7/10 hidden demons.

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