Movie Name: Motel Hell
Studio: United Artists
Release Date(s): October 18, 1980
MPAA Rating: R
It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent fritters. Vincent Smith (Rory Calhoun) and his daughter Ida (Nancy Parsons) run Hotel Hello and have a profitable beef selling business on the side. Vincent has a secret recipe for his meat that is worth killing to keep. When Vincent pulls a young girl named Terry (Nina Axelrod) from the wreckage, Vincent sees a potential future with her, but Vincent’s brother Sheriff Bruce Smith (Paul Linke) could find out the truth about his brother’s secret.
Directed by Kevin Connor, Motel Hell is a horror comedy. The low-budget movie has gained a cult following over the years.
Motel Hell was one of those movies I always caught snippets of, but never sat down and watched the whole thing. The movie is a lot of fun and probably even a bit more humorous than it was meant to be.
The story for the movie is filled with laughs and honestly very little scares. There are some gross-out moments in the story involving the eating of humans, but there are few jumps or true scares. The laughs however are pretty smart and involve a lot of word play surrounding Vincent’s murderous action. Even the final “battle” between Vincent and his brother is tinted with humor by having Vincent fight Bruce in a pig’s head. It is the general tone of the whole movie…everything from the dominatrix couple to the zombie head garden.
The cast doesn’t really seem to know how to take the movie. Some of the characters play up the laughs while other characters play it straight horror. Rory Calhoun seems to get the laughs along with Nancy Parsons. Both Paul Linke and Nina Axelrod fall somewhere closer to horror though Linke could be a precursor to Deputy Dewey of Scream. The movie also has appearances by Wolfman Jack and Cheers vet John Ratzenberger.
The movie is cheap and looks pretty cheap. This does fit with the script and acting however. The movie could have looked a bit better, but I don’t know if it was slick and stylish or particularly dirty and grindhouse if it would work. It marginally works now, but a high production value Motel Hell wouldn’t feel right.
If you love ’70s and ’80s horror, Motel Hell is a must. It shows a lot of the gravitation to comedy horror that occurred in the ‘’80s with movies like A Nightmare on Elm Street or even Friday the 13th with the ridiculous kills. Motel Hell for the most part gets that it is a comedy, but doesn’t always succeed when it tries to be horror. Overall, Motel Hell is a nice place to visit every once in a while…and I bet Yelp would agree.
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