Return to Horror Hotel
return to horror hotel | sequel | horror hotel the movie | ricky hess | brandon thaxton | al hess | baby norman | j michael grey | r.c. sayyah | insect | insects | anthology | sci-fi | sci fi | united states | stephanie stevens | james edward thomas | ann marie gideon
Film: Return to Horror Hotel
Director: Ricky Hess and Brandon Thaxton
Writer: Al Hess
Starring: Baby Norman, J Michael Grey and R.C. Sayyah
This was the sequel that was asked for me to check out on Twitter recently. I decided to give it a viewing. It also gave me another new horror film from this year so I figured I would check it out. The synopsis here is an anthology feature with 4 segments. One is about giant bedbugs, one about a magical charm that turns women beautiful, one about a hermit and one about a terrorizing severed hand.
Much like the original film, I think I’m going to go ahead and break each down and any leftover thoughts I will sum up at the end. The first story is Sleep Tight. This takes place at the same motor court, much like the other shorts from the original as well. We see in a few different rooms here. The first belongs to Jake Bodyn (R.C. Sayyah). He’s into weightlifting and taking supplements to enhance, but they all don’t look legal. There’s another room that is housing Ferd (J Michael Grey) and Lorelie (Jenny Hall). They both are sleeping with their legs inside of buckets. When Ferd gets up we see that his legs are covered in weird wounds. The last room sees Aunt Miemi (Baby Norman) is checking in with her niece Abby (Zoe Burgner) and Mario (Samuel Riley Norman).
Jake notices that his back is covered in wounds, similar to those of Ferd. He pulls back his blankets to find his bed covered in bedbugs. It turns out that Ferd is breeding them and grinding them up as a drug to sell. The problem is what effects do the supplements that Jake is using having on them.
I do have to say, I was used to the original where the shorts were not as long. I have to say though, I thought what they did here was good. We establish all of the characters and then we see how they’re all connected. I did find it funny that the large ‘bedbug’ is really just a cockroach, but that doesn’t ruin it. This is a creepy concept and I thought it played out in an interesting way.
Next is Guillotine where two young women pull up to a motel room. We have Doreen Grey (Stephanie Stevens) and Collette Wisenheimer (Ann Marie Gideon). They’re there to meet Al Sharko (James Edward Thomas) who wants to sell a charm to Doreen. It is supposed to be a part of the guillotine that killed Marie Antoinette and that the cha belonged to Marilyn Monroe at one point. It is said to make the woman wearing it even more beautiful. It is tested on Collette and we then see that it creates quite the rift when both these women want it.
This one actually had some pretty interesting aspects to it. The first is that I don’t think it is a coincided that Doreen Grey is the name of the vapid one. It does feel like a play on Dorian Grey from the Oscar Wilde novel. I thought the lore of this item was interesting and seeing how it drives a wedge between these women was good. I like that they are attractive, even when they’re pretending that Collette isn’t, but that while wearing it they become even better. That worked for me. Another good touch is the final image we see in the mirror as well.
That moves me to the next story of No Room for Love. This starts in a book shop where Jonnie Rhey (Katrina Rarick) is asked by her boss to deliver a book to a local hermit. He is living at the motor court. She agrees and the lore is that he doesn’t leave his room. A bet is made that she can get inside. She tries to play up that she has a bad ankle, but she falls into the door, cutting her head.
She is taken inside by Davie Jonas (Jason Will Gaglione). The two of them hit it off, but the more Jonnie learns about him, she realizes that things aren’t as they seem. The clock in the room is moving faster and things in the room are affected by it, including Davie.
Much like the previous one, I do have to give credit to references here. The book that Jonnie is bringing over is 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, which Davie Jonas is a play on Davie Jones’ Locker, which is the bottom of the ocean. This is all around that Davie was stationed on a submarine during his time in the navy. Something I did miss though was the era that he actually served. The synopsis on IMDb was where I saw that, but they didn’t do a great job in conveying that. This really felt like a Twilight Zone episode with how it played out so that was good.
The final story is Houdini’s Hand. We have two criminals arriving at the motel and going into a room. Rufus Bass (Tony Folden) stole a hand from Stumpy Nixon (Mike Bend). He is a one armed bandit and he uses this hand to open locks and safes. Tyrone Thaddeus (Montrel Miller) is there to ensure whatever deal that Rufus makes, he has back-up. The problem is that Rufus reaches out to Al Sharko to see if anyone is interested and he’s told he shouldn’t have stole it from Stumpy.
Tyrone gets inside the box, but has to use the bathroom. The hand disappears and weird things start to happen in the motel room. Stumpy then calls to say he wants the hand back, along with one of theirs as interest. This becomes a nightmare to get out of this room before it is too late.
I do have to say that this does have an interesting premise. I like they incorporated Harry Houdini here, knowing that he was great as escaping from locks and what not. The problem I have is that how did the hand board up the window without them knowing? I think there was a good idea here, but I thought this was the weakest of the bunch. Something happens as well to Rufus that was meh. The only good aspect is seeing these two turn on each other trying to find a way out of this mess.
With that said, I’m do like this more than the original if I’m honest. I think that it works better with the four stories as it gives them a bit more time to establish the premise and characters. There’s an interesting meta aspect where on television is the original playing so that was kind of cool. I still prefer my anthologies to have a wraparound which we don’t get with this one either. I thought the acting was pretty solid across the board. There aren’t really any bad effects. If I’m honest, there are actually some good ones with the budget here. I never got bored, but I do think it was a misstep to end it with the one they do as it was the weakest. The soundtrack really didn’t stand out aside from a moment where one of my favorite podcasts used as their intro music. Overall I’d say this is above average overall and would recommend this if you like lower budget horror films. Don’t come in expecting a masterpiece, but it is fun and gives that feel of EC comics or like The Twilight Zone.
My Rating: 6.5 out of 10