9.10.2009

Motel Hell (1980): It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent's fritters.


A short review of a movie for which my only regret is not seeing it sooner.

What an awesome little gem of a film this is. If you're in the mood for something quirky and demented, Motel Hell is the perfect choice. Farmer Vincent, owner of Motel Hello (and it just so happens that the neon sign's "o" is out) and famous meat smoker, has got a fantastic business going for himself. Anyone want to guess what the secret ingredient is for Vincent's delicious meats? You guessed correctly. He kidnaps hotel guests and nearby travellers in order to harvest them for his recipe. Meat's meat and a man's gotta' eat, right?

I don't even know where to begin with this film because it is just so offbeat in all the right ways. It's surprsingly well-made and easy to watch, with just enough oddities to keep you on your toes. I was expecting a grainy, 4X3 transfer from VHS, but alas, it looked pretty good in it's 16x9 glory. All of the technical elements are doing their job, which is more than I can say about a lot of the 80's gold I watch. The writing and acting are also up to par. Although there are the occassional line deliveries that could make you cringe (particularly from the Sheriff), the dialogue and performances match the tone of the film perfectly and play off pretty well. Farmer Vincent is superb as a man who sincerely believes in his work and he's actually pretty likeable. Ida, Vincent's sister, is also enjoyable as the corpulent, pig-tailed, overall-wearing accomplice. The Sheriff's sporadic bad lines become treasures for you to relish, reminding you that you are watching a movie called Motel Hell after all.


After Vincent blows the tires off a motorcylce on a desolate road, the pretty Terry survives while her male companion does not. Vincent takes her in as a daughter (or at least, that's what we think at first) and having no where to go without her significant other, Terry amazingly agrees to stay on the motel/farm, not knowing the real cause of the accident. She takes a liking to the country life, all the while Vincent and Ida are participating in some rauncy farming during the night. As this film goes on, it just gets weirder and weirder. Terry tries to have sex with Vincent, but he refuses until they marry (Whoa there!). And so then he proposes and she accepts (Whaaa?). Ida has this strange jealousy of their relationship, even though she's his sister (uh-oh). You got a couple arriving at the hotel interested in performing bizarre sexual acts with Vincent and Ida (ewwww). You get the Sheriff, who is Vincent's brother and in love with Terry, claiming that Vincent has syphillis of the brain and a prune where is manhood should be (ughhh). Needless to say, there's some deviant stuff going on and it only endeared this movie to me even more.


And the conclusion of this film does not disappoint. Vengeful victims attacking Ida and Vincent like herds of angry cattle. People wearing severed pig heads. A freaking chainsaw duel!!!! If you haven't seen Motel Hell, you need to. It's cooky. It's funny. It's creepy. It's twisted. What more could you ask for?

12 comments:

  1. I consider this one to be staple 80s viewing, Im always surprised when I find out people havent seen it! Glad to see the review up Becks, hit on all the major plot points, now hopefully these people take your damn advice and watch it!! =D

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  2. yup, this is one of the best. I also like how you used the term "meat smoker" up above, without even using it as an insult. Very classy. ;)

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  3. a "prune", WTF.

    Consider this on my "check out" list.

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  4. haha, i was hoping someone would get that joke ;)

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  5. Aint nuthin like no chainsaw show down in the end. My dad used to always talk about this one with such passion I can see why now lol. It was fricking great.

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  6. The hairdresser Billy and I went to as kids would tell us about this movie and how creepy she thought it was. So, with anticipation, I waited for years to finally see it. It was not a let down. Totally cool.

    JM

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  7. "It takes all kind of critters to make Farmer Vincent's fritters." I have never forgotten this line. A truly great trashy movie. Saw it at the drive-in when it was first released. That pig "mask" is legendary.

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  8. I wish I would have seen this at a drive-in. That's awesome!

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  9. I remember seeing the Fangoria magazine with the iconic pig head villain holding the chainsaw on the cover in the bookstore. A shame I wasn't allowed then to pick it up. I always wanted to see the movie and never got around to viewing it until the late 80's when I found the MGM VHS in a local video store. I watched it back to back with MOTHER'S DAY.

    It was also cool to see John Ratzenberger (Cliff from CHEERS) in one of several genre outings he appeared in. Also, the appearance of Radio and TV personality Wolfman Jack (as a preacher!) was a plus, too. I need to watch this one again real soon.

    A shame there's (I guess it's still on) a MOTEL HELL remake in the works.

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  10. Absolutely one of my favorites! It even inspired a surreal short story I wrote for an english class that freaked out my teacher. I wonder if I can dig that up?

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  11. Nice blog. This movie is just awesome. If I'm remembering correctly, I read recently that they're going to remake it. There's no way they're going to be able to do it justice.

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  12. I reviewed this for "Bloody Darlings" zine some 15 yrs ago and I think it's due time for a re-visit. LOL.

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