Motel Hell (1980)
User ReviewsReview this title
Motel Hell' is a fun and somewhat graphic parody of films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' (1974) and The Last House on the Left' (1972). By sparingly using shock tactics and graphic effects, Motel Hell' plays up the more satirical aspect and keeps the viewer interested and entertained. In fact, the movie easily equals the number of shocking moments with a variety of funny and charming sequences which range from heckling televangelists to a hilarious send-up of the lives of swingers. Viewers of Motel Hell' can be treated to a chainsaw duel (possible influence for Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2'), a garden of humans being prepared for harvesting, cannibalism and a particularly stomach-churning conversation about smoking dogs. This movie is without a doubt one of the most underrated movies of its era and while not being as effective, or enjoyable, as Re-Animator' (1985) and Evil Dead 2' (1987), it remains an intelligent, gruesome and witty horror/comedy. Unfortunately the movie tends to drag a little shortly before the final sequences which can be slightly off-putting. However, the highly enjoyable and eventful ten minutes more than make up for this brief lapse and round the film off almost perfectly.
Rory Calhoun, without a shadow of a doubt, steals the show with his portrayal of the deranged yet surprisingly pleasant Vincent. Some adept scripting from Robert and Steven-Charles Jaffe give his murderous character a somewhat pleasant and appealing personality. The viewer can only laugh at the God-fearing persona that Vincent possesses as he talks about the creative and artistic way he catches stray humans to mix in with his meat. Rory is brilliantly accompanied by Nancy Parsons in the role of his overweight and slightly dim-witted sister Ida. One could even question whether Ida is supposed to be a female and slightly more intelligent version of TCM's Leatherface. The rarely seen and beautiful actress Nina Axelrod is also delightful in her role as Terry, a young woman who was caught in but survived one of Vincent's devious traps. Unfortunately the scripting for the character of Terry was rather poor and it becomes hard for the viewer to connect with her. However, given the material she had to work with, Nina put in an impressive performance and when required, added greatly to the humorous aspect of the movie. One cannot also neglect to mention Paul Linke who plays Vincent's (much) younger brother Sheriff Bruce Smith. Linke's performance, although the weakest of the main actors, is still enjoyable and provides both a villain and a hero in one.
Kevin Connor's direction was of a particularly high standard although it seemed basic during the opening portions of the movie. Connor managed to capture the devilish yet fun atmosphere of the script and worked in all of the clever references to other movies seamlessly. These references (in addition to those already mentioned) included a captivating comedic illustration of Night of the Living Dead' (1968) and Zombie Holocaust which was released in Italy earlier the same year. Motel Hell' is probably worth watching for horror/comedy fans; though do not expect another Evil Dead 2'. Thanks to some usually good scripting, above average performances and some truly side-splitting situations, Motel Hell' succeeds at what it sets out to be - great fun for cheesy horror lovers! My rating for Motel Hell' 7/10.
Rory Calhoun and Paul Linke are wonderful in their roles. Rory effectively pulls off the mild-mannered farmer with a dark secret routine, while Paul Linke handles the role of jealous cop perfectly.
Nina Axelrod supplies the sex appeal, and capably I might add. Though her penchant for much older men is a little disturbing.
This film has gained a solid cult following thanks to end showdown of good vs. evil, with Rory wearing that hog's head and chasing after Paul Linke with a chainsaw.
This is a great comedic horror, and has the obviously famous line "It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent's fritters"
There are several hilarious scenes:brother and sister whistling a gentle tune while they are doing very bad things or exchanging dead bodies,while simpering.
But the best gag comes at the end when the delicatessen dealer reveals his biggest sin:watch for it,it's priceless.
Just what kind of meat is it that Farmer Vincent and his sister are cookin' up out there at their rural motel? My, it just tastes so good!
Motel Hell stands out as one of the best horror comedy combos out there. The whole movie has such a tongue-in-cheek manner, with moments of purely hilarious absurdity. It has a kind of DC Comics dark humor that really works to the film's advantage. There's plenty of memorable moments and jokes, not to mention a lively climax that's probably the greatest (and most humorous) spoof of Texas Chainsaw' ever! Yet director Connor manages to give the movie a strange seriousness that only adds to the comic feeling of it all.
The cast is pretty good. Rory Calhoun is best as the unforgettable Farmer Vincent (who has a secret!). Nancy Parsons is a trip as Vincent's portly sister Ida. Paul Linke is perfect as the bumbling younger brother of the two who is also the local sheriff.
There's a few moments of violence and gore, especially in "the garden" scenes. Lance Rubin offers up a surprisingly elegant music score for the movie. Also, let's not forget the memorable country theme song "You're Eating out my Heart and Soul".
For those who have yet to see this movie, watch it. It's best taken in a non-serious mood!
*** 1/2 out of ****
Will anyone stop Vincent and Ida's dastardly deeds? This is one sick puppy. Tongue definitely in cheek. How's this for casting..Wolfman Jack plays a reverend! And, John Ratzenberger(you know Cliff the mailman on Cheers)plays a heavy metal rocker who gets planted in the meat garden!!
The cinematography and camera-movements are surprisingly decent for this rather low-budget flick, as well as some make-up effects (I loved it when the camera slowly travels through the dark living-room only to reveal Nancy Parsons hiding behind the door, holding a big knife at the end of the travel-shot). It's best that you know nothing about the story, but then again knowing that it's about a farmer running a hotel does say a lot, doesn't it. Farmer Vincent Smith sure re-defines the word "agri-culture". There isn't very much gore to admire but the idea alone is sick enough to satisfy any horror-fan. The story itself is fun and has a satisfying climax. I only had one problem with the motivations of Nina Axelrod's character. Why wasn't she more upset about her dead boyfriend? Why did she stay with the Smiths anyway? Didn't she have places to go or weren't there friends and family waiting for her? But I guarantee you'll soon forget those questions when she provides some welcome nudity.
So MOTEL HELL has black humor, demented farmers and a creepy motel. That makes up for a good movie, I'd say.
They have a neat little slaughterhouse and smoke room out the back where they take their victims after planting them in a garden (with only their heads exposed) and fattening them up for the slaughter. And when the guest attendance at the motel falls off, Calhoun sets traps out on the highway for passing motorists so that he can add them to his garden.
It also has Nina Axelrod as the girl that Calhoun and Parson take pity on and 'adopt' as one of their own, and Paul Linke as the dumb sheriff who bumbles his way into finally ending Calhoun's operation, once and for all.
There's a clumsy little fight sequence in the smokehouse at the end involving knives and cleavers, with all the action taking place surrounding a vat filled with body parts.
Worth a one-time look. Brainless fun.
6 out of 10
It clocks in over 90 minutes and in fact there's a lot of talking going on. Sure, we do see the victims in the garden but nothing looks creepy or whatsoever. Maybe it's disturbing in some way but it's really low on the red stuff. The acting of course of Rory Calhoun as Vincent and and Nancy Parsons as Ida do deliver towards this horror.
Maybe you can't take it all to seriously because there's also some black comedy to spot here and there and of course one full frontal and some tits here and there.
Still up to today it's a much spoken flick due the pig head who also gave Fangoria some problems when they added that particular picture on their cover and is still one of the most searched issues of Fangoria.
Just have a look now that it finally has it's Blu Ray release to see where the cult status came from, the chainsaw and the hog's head.
Gore 0/5 Nudity 0,5/5 Effects 1/5 Story 2,5/5 Comedy 1/5
Motel Hell gene-splices The Dukes of Hazzard, Evil Dead and The Hills Have Eyes into a strange hybrid of knockaround yokel comedy and surreal and gory horror. Farmer Vincent is by turns an amiable old man and a disturbing religious nutter who's dealing with the scum of the earth by killing them and eating them. Calhoun is unmissable as the misguided loony, and watching him almost get away with one of the most bizarre killing sprees in recent movie history is half of the films fun.
The other half is the wonderful script. Every scene is cleverly thought out and witty, and even the demented final reel with its horde of seasoned and prepared would-be-meat zombies and meat-packing-plant chainsaw duel is planned down to a tee. Motel Hell never feels rushed or cliché, and that's the genius of it.
It's also its only real downfall though. The slow pace of the movie is at odds with the hilarity of the script and the madness of the premise. Though the movie kicks into high gear as a horror in the last half-hour, more evenly spread out horror and shocks would make the movie a little more balanced and maybe more accessible than it is. However, if more action had been added the scene wouldn't be set in such a subtle and believable way, and I for one am glad for the sedentary pace as it gives you a chance to get to know all the characters.
Motel Hell deserves a place in any horror buffs collection. It's cleverer than Evil Dead and a lot funnier than anything else that was going on in the early 80s, and to be honest, deserves much more recognition than it currently gets. Check it out right now.
This is a failed attempt at a cannibal comedy. The basic idea of the script is decent but it's ruined by terrible dialogue and stupid comedy. To make things worse Axelrod and Linke have to be two of the worst actors I've ever seen. Axelrod is beautiful but has zero acting ability. Linke is somewhat handsome but acts like an idiot most of the time. Also Parsons goes WAY over the top in her role. It's amusing at first but gets tired pretty quickly. The only thing that saves this is a few--very few--comedic and horror bits do work (LOVE the homage to "Night of the Living Dead" near the end) and Calhoun. He has an easy-going charm that suits this role perfectly and does what he can with his bad dialogue. His casual explanation about why he's doing this is very funny and his final line is a classic. So it is worth seeing for him and the final chainsaw fight is kind of fun. Still I was bored more often that not. I can only give it a 4.
Director Kevin Connor does an ace job of crafting a perfectly ghoulish tongue-in-cheek EC Comics-style creeped-out atmosphere, maintains a steady pace throughout, and pulls out all the thrilling stops for the wild climactic chainsaw duel. The witty script by Robert Jaffe and Steven-Charles Jaffe not only smartly satirizes such horror landmarks as "Psycho" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," but also pokes wickedly amusing fun at the radical cultural shift that occurred when the loose libertine permissiveness of the 1970's gave way to the uptight repressive conservatism of the 1980's (Vincent and Ida think they are doing mankind a great service by preying upon such social undesirables as bikers, punk rockers, and prostitutes). This film acquires an extra chilling and unsettling edge by presenting its killers as supremely friendly and jolly good ol' country folks. Moreover, the cast really sink their teeth into the juicy macabre material: Paul Linke contributes a likable turn as bumbling sheriff Bruce Smith, Wolfman Jack has a ball as flashy televangelist Reverend Billy, Elaine Joyce and Dick Curtis are hilarious as a kinky swinging couple, Playboy Playmates Rosanne Katon and Monique St. Pierre pop up as a pair of hookers, and John Ratzenberger has a small part as a punk band drummer. Thomas Del Ruth's garish cinematography provides a funky neon look. Wholly deserving of its cult classic status.
Much of the credit should go to Western veteran Rory Calhoun, who's wonderful as demented good ol' boy farmer Vincent Smith, who both operates a backwoods motel (it's actually the Motel Hello, but the O in the neon sign burned out) and manufactures the best smoked meat within a 100 mile radius. It ain't exactly hard to figure out Vincent's secret ingredient, but it takes his lawman brother Bruce (Paul Linke of 'CHiPS') a while to catch on. Meanwhile, Vincent takes a shine to Terry (lovely Nina Axelrod), a sweet young thing who falls prey to one of his traps.
Capably supporting old Rory is amiable Nancy Parsons, the character actress known best to most people as Balbricker in the "Porky's" series. There's also the curiosity value of seeing the legendary raspy voiced DJ Wolfman Jack in an acting role, as he plays Reverend Billy (and can also be heard on the radio, naturally). Keep an eye for Monique St. Pierre, Playboy Playmate of the year in 1979, and future 'Cheers' cast member John Ratzenberger, as two of the victims.
Certainly the audience won't forget the sight & sound of Vincents' prey buried up to their necks in the ground and making horrible gurgling noises after getting their vocal cords slit. That's the creepy part. Overall, the movie is likable and not without style, thanks to director Kevin Connor ("The Land That Time Forgot"). It's got some memorably quotable dialogue and a priceless final line from Vincent.
Mixing comedy and horror can be a hard thing to get right but at least "Motel Hell" strikes a reasonable balance throughout.
Seven out of 10.
MOTEL HELL is a cheap little throwaway horror film from the early '80s. The story is simple yet strange, the characters are exaggerated, and the story is just what you'd expect. The whole plot of planting his victims in his garden and turning them into fritters is pretty cool, and the guttural noises screeched from the garden's inhabitants is probably the most stomach-churning aspect of the movie. Well, that's not entirely true. Ida (Nancy Parsons) freaks me out. I guess it's a combination of her deep-set eyes, childish pigtails, overalls, and that nasal squealing voice. Add to that the fact that her character is a simple-minded fool with no qualms against murder, and she just weirds me out from the first time we meet her. Farm Vincent on the other hand has the complete opposite effect. He reminds me way too much of Bob Barker. Seriously he looks like him and sounds like him. Instead of promoting pet population control through spaying and neutering, he eats them. Rory Calhoun is way too charming to be an effective villain. Farmer Vincent shouldn't be murdering people and serving them in jerky form, he should be hosting his own children's show. It's all good until the final confrontation in which Vincent completely loses his mind (but his final lines in the film are probably the absolute best). Nina Axelrod is hot as victim Terry (but not much else her character's not the sharpest knife in the shed), and Paul Linke is the embarrassment that is Sheriff Smith. You know everything you need to know about the Sheriff when we first meet him. He speeds up Vincent's motel with sirens blaring and lights flashing, lurches to a stop, and puts on his police-game face to pop in and say hello. He's not smart and he's not tough; it's a miracle he's not dead in the first fifteen minutes.
The movie's pretty predictable and follows a few of the usual horror movie conventions. If someone shows up and exhibits "negative behavior" (e.g. sexual deviance, drug use, etc.), chances are they're going to end up as part of Vincent's garden. What annoyed me was that the whole "Farmer Vincent's fritters" plot was put on the back-burner for the majority of the movie so it could focus on Terry's involvement. I wasn't interested in a love triangle, I wanted more cannibalism and horror! It's a fun movie regardless, even if it does wander off track. I'm sure any horror fan will find something they like about this movie, but I don't expect to find it on anyone's top-ten lists.
I gave the movie 10/10 stars because I assume that you won't read this review unless you've decided in advance that you like the movie. In that respect, the movie won't disappoint. It's typical brain candy, with sardonic comments and a nerdy hero. But what makes this movie especially interesting is the presence of Wolfman Jack as a preacher. Of course, you might say that he's the perfect individual to star in a horror flick, given that he has "wolfman" in his name.
All in all, pretty fun.