Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Butts Motel (1988)

Directed by:
Scotty Fox

A lot of people thought Psycho II (1983) was completely unnecessary and perhaps it was, but the film itself ended up being way more popular - and far better - than most of its initial detractors thought. On a five million dollar budget, it went on to gross around 35 million dollars in North America alone, making it the 20th highest grossing film of its year and also one of the years most profitable when one takes into consideration budget investment vs. gross. This led to a resurgence in popularity for star Anthony Perkins, his infamous Norman Bates character and the Psycho brand name in general. A few years down the line, Perkins was able to both star in and step behind the camera to direct for the very first time with Psycho III (1986), which proved to be mildly successful but still a clear case of diminishing returns. That same year, both the film itself and the Norman character factored prominently in the “Welcome to My Nightmare” episode of Amazing Stories. Next came Bates Motel (1987), a made-for-TV anthology (and unsuccessful pilot for a proposed series) that centered around one of Norman's insane asylum buddies (Bud Cort) who inherits the motel after Bates passes away. Smack in the middle of all that and the later made-for-cable Psycho IV: The Beginning (1990), the awful Gus Van Sant remake of 1998 and the latest incarnation, the 2013 cable series Bates Motel, came this forgotten porno parody.

One can't expect much from these kinds of movies from this era. After all, by the late 80s most XXX films were being churned out as quickly as humanly possible (in a matter of just a couple of days) and most were shot on video with budgets that didn't extend far beyond paying the performers, purchasing blank VHS tapes and perhaps renting a few hotel rooms. Butts Motel fits all of the above criteria but, since no one's going to be watching this for lavish production values anyway, that's all a moot point. What's important is that the film carry through on the sex and, since it's a parody of a well-known, extremely popular film, provide a few chuckles for fans of the original. This accomplishes at least that much.

On the lam and headed toward Mexico, Ophelia Tush (Carol Cummings, who later did R rated films like Psycho Cop Returns under her real name, Kimberly Spies) and her girlfriend Brenda Over (Sasha) show up at Butts Motel with a suitcase the latter is very protective over. Weirdo motel owner Norman Butts (Jerry Butler) carries on and on about how he and his dead mother used to be close, warns the ladies of a potentially noisy honeymoon couple next door and puts them up in their room. Norman then spies on them having sex through a hilariously huge peephole hidden behind his mum's portrait while talking to her ("It's that time! It's that time ma! Talk to me ma! ... OH MY GOD!") Afterward, we pay a visit to both the newlywed couple; Annie (Kassi Nova) and Peter (Marc Wallice), and a couple of cops; Officer Dick Hershey (Jeff James) and Sheriff Beatrice Hinds (Frankie Leigh), who've tracked Brenda to the hotel. Everyone, of course, has sex in various combinations (there are six scenes crammed into just 65 minutes) and the corny jokes fly fast and furious in between.

One of the unsung talents of 80s and 90s adult films was writer Cash Markman, who is said to be the most prolific screenwriter of all time. Because of all the aliases he used throughout his career, it's nearly impossible to get an exact figure on his credits, but he was involved in writing somewhere between 850 and 1000 (!) porn films. When mainstream movies parody the hokey double entendre jokes adult films often contain, they're parodying exactly what Markman was doing at the time...

"You know for a small town cop, you sure do seem to have a lot of balls, Officer Hershey."

Officer Hershey
"Call me Dick, Bea."

"Well Dick, that shouldn't be too hard... or should it?"

Officer Hershey
"May I say there's something about a female cop in uniform that makes this private dick want to go public."

"Was that public or pubic?"

Officer Hershey
"How long do you think that Norman guy is going to be?"

"I don't know. I've never seen him naked."

Officer Hershey
"No. I mean, what if he comes in while we're..." 

"I don't care if Norman comes... as long as we do."

Brilliant? No. A dumb, goofy and amusing way to lighten the mood? Sure. Markman's script also pokes fun of Psycho throughout, including a long shower scene complete with similar camerawork, shots of the showerhead, drain, shadow through the curtain and all that. If that's not enough for ya, this includes some extremely odd and sometimes twisted bits of humor throughout. How odd? Well, Norman's mother apparently left him a vibrator in her will. And the last sex scene is a flashback of Norman having sex with his own mother (Candie Evens) after she takes off a prune-faced Halloween mask while creepy music plays!

Though promoted as “A Psycho-Anal Thriller,” don't be fooled into thinking this is going to be filled with big-haired backdoor action. It's not. That's limited to just two brief scenes and both feature the Turkish-born Nova. The most erotic sequence is Cummings' solo shower scene - going places no Janet Leigh has ever gone before! - followed by sex with Butler in the bathroom. Despite IMDb claiming this is 80 minutes (they currently also have much of the cast listing wrong), this runs barely over an hour and some of the same shots are repeated numerous times to even push it that far. As far as I know, this was only released one time on home video, on the Executive Video label. There were five "sequels;" many of which were made by the same people.


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