Motel Hell (1980) - Plot Summary Poster



Showing all 4 items
Jump to:


  • A seemingly friendly farmer and his sister kidnap unsuspecting travelers and bury them alive, using them to create the "special meat" they are famous for.

  • Farmer Vincent kidnaps unsuspecting travellers and is burying them in his garden. Unfortunately for his victims, they are not dead. He feeds his victims to prepare them for his roadside stand. His motto is: It takes all kinds of critters...to make Farmer Vincents fritters. The movie is gory, but is also a parody of slasher movies like Last House on the Left.

  • Farmer Vincent and his sister kidnap unsuspecting travelers and is burying them alive in his field with their vocal cords slit to prevent them from screaming. Their family motto is: 'It takes all kinds of critters...to make Farmer Vincent's fritters'. They fattens up their victims to prepare them for sale as their famous special smoked meat. But the latest crop of them break free seeking revenge on their captors. The movie is a parody of slasher movies.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Farmer Vincent Smith (Rory Calhoun) and his younger overweight sister Ida (Nancy Parsons) live on a farm with a motel attached to it in an unnamed Deep South state. It's called 'Motel Hello', but the O on the sign constantly flicks on and off (hence the opening title of 'Motel Hell'). Vincent makes smoked meats said to be the most delicious in the surrounding area. Vincent's secret is human flesh, and Vincent has the areas around his isolated motel strewn with various booby traps to catch victims. The victims are placed in a 'secret garden' where they are buried up to their necks and have their vocal cords cut so they cannot scream; Vincent keeps them in the ground, feeding them special food, until they are ready and then kills them. Ida helps, and seems to enjoy it, whereas Vincent seems rather calm and certain in his belief he's not doing anything wrong. Vincent even refers to the people he's captured as "animals."

    The movie opens with Vincent going out one night and shooting out the tires of a motorcycle a couple is riding on: The male (Bo) is placed in the garden, but Vincent takes a shine to the young female (Terry) and brings her to the motel to help her recover from her injuries, much to Ida's displeasure. The next morning, Vincent's naïve and mild-mannered younger brother Sheriff Bruce (Paul Linke), who, unlike Ida, is not aware of his brother's secret, arrives, and Vincent tells Terry that her boyfriend died in the accident and that he buried him: a trip to the graveyard shows a crude grave marker placed there by Vincent. Terry, having nowhere else to go, decides to stay at the motel.

    Most of the film consists of Vincent (with Ida's help) capturing more victims for his garden. One of the first on-screen victims is a local health inspector for Vincent's pigs who spies the hidden garden by chance, goes to investigate, and then becomes part of it. The next evening, a van full of drugged-up band members are driving past the area of the motel in which Vincent blows their tires out by laying out spikes in the road and captures them. At the same time, Vincent uses his folksy charm to woo Terry, much to Bruce's dislike, who tries to woo her himself without much success.

    Another night later, Vincent captures more victims by placing a pack of cardboard cows on the road. When a car containing two women pass by, one gets out and when she goes to move the cows, Vincent gases her. The other woman gets in the driver's seat and plows through the cardboard cows and attempts to flee. Vincent chases after her in his pickup truck in which a long car chase ensues. The woman in the car apparently faints from the stress of her terror in which her car goes off the road and into a nearby pond where she drowns. Meanwhile, Bruce attemps again to woo Terry by taking her to a spot overlooking a local drive-in theater where they attempt to watch a movie on the big screen only when Bruce overhears the other woman over his police car's CB radio attemping to call for help for she is being chased. Bruce tries to start up the car, but it gets stuck in the mud. Bruce ends up falling into a mud puddle attemping to push his car free.

    That same night, the mud-covered Bruce drops Terry off back at the motel where he questions Vincent and Ida about the mysterious chatter over the CB's and Vincent suggests that it was just teenage kids playing a prank. After Bruce leaves, a pair of swingers show up at the motel with a false ad that the motel is a swinger's paradise which is titled 'Vincent's Motel'. After putting Terry to bed, Vincent and Ida enter the couple's motel room where they gas both of them and add them to their back garden.

    The next day Vincent suggests he may teach Terry how to smoke meat. Terry is willing to tour Vincent's smokehouse in the back and adds: "Don't worry. I have a cast-iron stomach". Ida finds out about this and, jealous of Terry's hold over Vincent, attempts to drown her in the nearby pond (by luring her out there to play on inner tubes), but Vincent comes in time and saves her. This proves to be a catalyst for Terry, who tries to seduce Vincent (he stops her, claiming it would not be proper until they were married) and she then agrees to marry him.

    A few days later, Bruce, while 'walking the beat' in the nearby town, learns from the local preacher Reverend Billy (Wolfman Jack) about Vincent's upcoming marriage to Terry. Unhappy that he's "lost" Terry, Bruce drives down to the motel once he hears the news and bursts into Terry's bathroom to protest Terry's choice (and during his rant to slander his brother claims his brother has 'syphilis of the brain', which might explain Vincent's calmness towards murder and cannibalism), but Vincent appears and chases his brother off with a shotgun. Having decided to have the wedding tomorrow, Vincent, Terry, and Ida share a glass of champagne, but Ida drugs the champagne to knock Terry out so she and Vincent can prepare some of the garden victims (presumably for the wedding feast tomorrow).

    Meanwhile, Bruce, still angry over losing Terry, starts doing some detective work on a few strange things he's noticed and starts to feel that something is not quite right at his brother's farm. After looking around, Bruce finds a pond near the motel which is filled with dozens of abandoned cars from the various passerbys that Vincent has captured.

    Vincent and Ida kill three of the band members (by hypnotising them, then tying nooses around their necks, attaching the rope to a tractor, and driving the tractor to break their necks) and pull them out of the ground to take to Vincent's meat processing plant. However, doing so seems to loosen the dirt around Bo, as he begins to try to escape. Bruce sneaks back to the motel to try to rescue Terry, but Ida returns to the motel for a snack and overhears Bruce trying to get Terry to leave. Ida ambushes Bruce when he leaves the room and knocks him out, and then takes Terry at gunpoint to the meat processing plant. Meanwhile, Bo escapes and frees the other victims in the garden.

    Vincent, upset that his 'love' found out his secret the way she did, sends Ida back to the motel to fetch his brother, but the victims, having escaped (and in a nod to zombie films, have staggered around groaning and hissing due to their cut vocal cords), ambush her and knock her out.

    Terry tries to escape the meat processing plant, but the door is locked and Vincent sadly knocks Terry out with gas, and then ties her to a conveyor belt, apparently planning to kill her too. He is interrupted by Bo, who crashes into the meat plant via an overhead window and brawls with Vincent, but he is weak from being trapped in the garden for so long and Vincent strangles him.

    Bruce awakens, finds one of his brother's shotguns, and goes to the meat packing building/smokehouse himself, but finds that his brother has armed himself with a giant chainsaw (and placed a pig's head over his own as a gruesome mask). Vincent manages to disarm his brother, but Bruce grabs his own chainsaw and proceeds to have a violent duel with Vincent (later parodied in 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2'), in the process turning on the conveyor belt Terry is tied to, sending her slowly towards a meat cutting blade. Despite suffering several wounds, Bruce drives the chainsaw into his Vincent's side for a mortal wound. Bruce frees Terry and then returns with her to his wounded brother, who gasps his final words, leaving the farm and 'secret garden' to Bruce, and then lamenting that his whole life was a lie and he was the biggest hypocrite of all ("My... meat... I... I... used... preservatives!") before he dies.

    Bruce and Terry go to the secret garden and find Ida buried in it as revenge... head first! (Of the victims there is no sign of them. They seem to have wandered off somewhere, presumably getting help.. but who knows?)

    In the final scene, Bruce and Terry then head past the motel, while Bruce comments on how he had no idea what was going on and was glad he'd run away when he was eleven. Terry suggests they just burn the motel, claiming it's evil. The sign saying MOTEL HELLO finally fully shorts out, permanently darkening the O and leaving the title: MOTEL HELL as the end credits role.

See also

Taglines | Synopsis | Plot Keywords | Parents Guide

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed