Episode 36: MURDER MOTEL

Written by Brian Clemens
Produced by Ian Fordyce
Directed by Malcolm Taylor
(tx date May 24, 1975)
fr: Hotel tragique
Kathy finds herself surrounded by a colourful assortment of villains in Woodheath Motel.

Sam, Besitzer des Woodheath Motel, und seine Schergen dezimieren nach und nach die Belegschaft des Geschäftsmannes Charles Burns, um Unregelmäßigkeiten in der Buchführung von dessen Firma zu vertuschen. Auf der Suche nach ihrem verschwundenen Freund Michael quartiert sich Kathy dort ein.
Murder Motel hat anständige Kulissen (Empfangsraum etc) und Top-Darsteller (Millan, Francis; aber auch die Nebenrollen). Die Story ist zwar belanglos (wie das Vorbild Psycho), aber spannend umgesetzt. Figurenkonstellation (Millan vs McCutcheon, Francis) und -konfiguration (Francis) sind exzellent.
Thriller Thriller
This reviewer holds great admiration for Murder Motel for a number of reasons.

1) It had me on the ropes when I first saw it in 1992.
2) Robyn Millan is simply gorgeous. Just for the hell of it, here's a shot of her appearing in Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law in 1972.
3) I'm into remakes, so why not have one in this series?
4) The original is quite good, too.
5) Future Juliet Bravo and Inspector Morse director Adrian Shergold is in it.

Seriously now - Millan's Kathy seems constantly on the edge of a nervous breakdown and is even more helpless than other female protagonists in this series. This adds to the suspense. Derek Francis' performance is wonderful. You could fast-forward through all non-Francis scenes and you'd still see a fascinating film. Instead of another Norman Bates we get a character who would fit well into a comedy, just like crooks John Hallam and Paul Humpoletz. On the other hand, they are sinister and threatening. This is a very good example of a successful walk on the thin line between drama and comedy.
In short, Clemens plays around with the original concept and gives it a fresh turn. Lovely to see a thinking, congenial person at work!
The story is overly convoluted – yes, so what? It was not important in the original. Janet Leigh running away with stolen money was termed a 'macguffin' by Hitchcock.
Rating: ****+

Derek Francis (Sam), Robyn Millan (Kathy), Ralph Bates (Michael Spencer), Edward Judd (Charles Burns), Alan McClelland (Lee), John Hallam (Roscoe), Anne Rutter (Helen Spencer), June Watson (Petra), Gillian McCutcheon (Janice Freeman), Patrick Jordan (Inspector Turner), Paul Humpoletz (Osgood), Patrick Tull (Terry), Keith Anderson (Auditor), Lynn Miller / Adrian Shergold (Young Couple), Peter MacKriel (Mr Taylor).
Wardrobe Supervisor James Dark Make-up Supervisor Sheila Mann Film Cameraman Tony Mander Film Editor Stanley Staffe Senior Cameraman Bill Brown Sound Director Bob Woodhouse Senior Vision Control Gerry Taylor VTR Editor John Hawkins Music Coordinator Paul Clay Music Laurie Johnson Lighting Director Pete Dyson Designer Roger Allan Floor Manager (uncredited) Vision Mixer Mary Forrest Administrator (uncredited) Production Secretary (uncredited) Production Assistant (uncredited) Executive Producer (uncredited).

*In the TVM version Millan receives top billing, followed by Francis.
**re-assembled from available on-screen credits
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