Motel Hell (1980)
Director: Kevin Connor
Paul Link/ Sheriff Bruce
We follow locally famous Farmer Vincent (Calhoun) and his butt-ugly sister Eda (Parsons) as they go about their everyday routine of capturing random tourists and turning them into smoked meat. The same damn smoked meat that the WHOLE TOWN has been eating for years! Yup we got a couple of sick hamsters on our hands! ADOPT ME PLEASE!
"It takes all kinds of critters ... to make Farmer Vincent's fritters."- Vincent
Sometimes I stumble upon a movie that begs the deeply existential question; “What the heck were the people behind this smoking when they put this one together?” That first question usually leads to the obvious follow up: “And where can I get some?” Motel Hell was definitely one of those sit downs.
Now I knew of the flick’s rep before hand but was not aware of any details in terms of the plot line. Result; I spent the whole of this buffet with mouth agape; bamboozed as to what the fudge I was watching. Yup…I was loving it! Motel Hell was an exceedingly twisted horror comedy that could only have been made in the “so odd they were kool 80’s.” The flick actually reminded me of a mix of “Parents” (another groovy, sicko cannibal movie) and “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” (Tobe Hooper owes a lot to Motel Hell in regards to his sequel’s narrative). Although it took me a while to gel with this ham and cheese’s offbeat dance, I stuck through it and at about 30 minutes in, I was waltzing with it like Fred Astaire on PCP.
The slow yet methodological pace of the picture was one of the first addictive ingredients in the soup. The more the flick rolled forward the sicker it got, the sicker it got, the more I wanted to see. The “matter fact” manner in which it communicated its sordid tale was another one of its winning aspects. The “dead pan” approach so amplified the shocking and humorous nature of the insanity taking place. Many “What the f*ck?” rolled off my tongue throughout this movie. Then we had the delicious acting by Roy Calhoun (Farmer Vincent) topping the whole. It is a statement to the man’s talent that he managed to make his “on paper” despicable role so damn appealing. Straight up; I would have a beer and share a hooker with Farmer Vincent any day. The HP sauce on top of this steak was its thick coating of sheer depravity that sometimes was so far out that I had to laugh my butt off. Wait till you see our insane couple’s “secret garden”; (wow and I thought I was nuts) or their cattle trip-out device (now that was seriously f*cked up!) These crazy kids put the term crazy to shame!
On the dull side of the cleaver; although the flick suggested a lot of nuttiness; in my opinion it begged for more graphic gore. The disturbing factor was there and overt red splashes would have taken it over the edge….which is a good thing I also found the pacing to be a tad slow in places and had to suspend disbelief a few times. I didn’t buy a couple of the last plot turns (namely the cop’s speedy and convenient investigation). Lastly, although somewhat amusing in a dumb-dumb way; that final chainsaw duel was badly staged; overlong and somewhat boring (dug the piggy mask though).
All in all, Motel Hell was a hilarious, offensive, inventive and twisted foray into happy go lucky cannibalism land. Although I’ve seen this subject matter tackled in other genre films before; I’ve never witnessed it wrangled in this so off the wall manner. Yup I enjoyed the meal! Question is; are you going to chew on Farmer Vincent’s smoked meat!
We get lots of suggested “messed up “ scenarios, some slit throats, some creative neck snapping, a saw in the waist and more! We needed extra Ketchup on these fries!
Roy Calhoun (Vincent) was so charming in his role that I almost quit this job to become a harvester of humans. Looked like fun to me! Nancy Parsons (Eda) played a grating character and she did it very well where I wanted to choke her at frame 2. Paul Link (Sheriff Bruce) was ideal casting as the “poon-thang” loving, sissy Sheriff. Nina Axelrod (Terry) couldn’t act herself out of a wonder bra but her hot-bod made her stale display bearable.
T & A
We get one “clean” tit shot and the hard nipples through a wet t-shirt routine (yum).
Kevin Connor had his levels down pat where he would never be too stylish too distract away from the story while at the same time knowing when to double dip in the zany shots to up the impact of certain scenes.
I’m not sure if the score was just plain bad or just plain dated tacky; either way it worked for this monkey.
Much like a one night-stand piecing the “to be used” condom with a needle behind my back, Motel Hell took me by “holy shite” surprise! Its storyline unraveled in such an un-imposing fashion that when the highly ingenious and perverted stuff was gradually revealed, it left me pleasantly speechless. Add to that some fine acting and a seriously warped sense of humor and you get a pair of buns worth slapping. If the pace, the finale and the script would’ve been a tad tighter and the gore quota higher we could’ve had a bona-fida classic on our hands. Having said that; a sick, ballsy and side-splitting hot-dog is better than more generic schlop. BON APPETIT!
John Ratzenberger (Cliff Claven from Cheers) plays a victim here (I laughed so hard when he popped up). And also look out for famous DJ Wolfman Jack as a preacher.
The flick was shot for about 3,000,000 clams!
Roy Calhoun also starred in the Cult films Angel and its sequel Avenging Angel. Remember those fine films? High School Honor Student by Day. Hollywood Hooker by Night. That tag line rocked!