Motel Hell (1980) Review

Motel HellMotel Hell is the 1980’s cult horror comedy that’s finally out on Blu-Ray and DVD for the first time in the UK, thanks to the wonderful warped Arrow Video. Seen by many as a horror satire, the low budget and dark humour hide a deeply disturbing narrative about a mad man and his dedication to making the best smoked meats around.

As far back as Sweeny Todd and further, horror stories have revolved around barmy blood-thirsty butchers and their horrific secret homo sapien ingredient that leads to unintentional uncontrolled cannibalism in the surrounding local populace. Motel Hell is another variation on this theme.

Rory Calhoun, who had over 80 films and 1,000 television episodes to his credit, plays Farmer Vincent, a constantly happy and god fearing man who owns the affectionately named Motel Hello (although the neon O on the sign somehow has a habit of constantly breaking).

Motel Hell

Attached to his rest stop is a farm where he makes his famous fine smoked meats – the best around by all accounts – with the help of his sister Ida (Nancy Parsons), all under the strictest secrecy.Motel Hell

The secret to Vincent’s meats are an extra special added element, human flesh, which he procures by hunting and trapping motorists in the surrounding area, butchering them and blending them with his hogs.

Out one night, he forces a motorbike off the road killing the driver but leaving the passenger, a fresh faced young girl named Terry (Nina Axelrod) still alive. Deciding to save Terry, Vincent takes her to the motel where she grows to care for the farmer who she owes her life to unaware of his evil sideline in consumer cannibalism.

As Ida and Vincent take more and more victims it’s not long till things get out of hand and Terry’s suspicions are aroused along with those of Vincent’s brother who just happens to be the local Sheriff.

With its crazy characters, sick psychedelic scenes, oddly ecological message, multiple murders and manic performances, Motel Hell is a definite cult movie in every sense. Throwing in sex fiends, slaughtered pigs, chainsaw fights and a garden of live heads, the film keeps you entertained all the way through.

Motel Hell

Drawing on elements of Psycho and Texas Chainsaw Massacre among other horror movies, director Kevin Connor walks the fine line between horror and humour, meaning you are never sure whether Motel Hell has its tongue in its cheek or your tongue on the barbecue.

Although the plot is quite simplistic from the start, what makes the film is Rory Calhoun’s performance as Vincent, which is brilliant all the way through. Always laughing and happy the twisted psycho seems completely confident and content with his life murdering people to make his smoked meat, throwing out his trademark quote ‘Meat’s meat and a man’s gotta eat!’

Motel Hell Motel Hell

Demented, disturbed but somehow likeable, Farmer Vincent holds the whole crazy piece together like the bonkers bun on a ketchup covered human hot dog making Motel Hell all the more tasty and all the more insane.

Check out a run down of all the amazing Arrow Extras on Motel Hell here:Motel Hell DVD extras

Movie Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Trailer:

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