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Aug 11

Motel Hell

motelhellGenre: Horror
Year: 1980
Country: USA

aka: Hotel Hell

Director: Kevin Connor
Starring: Rory Calhoun, Paul Linke, Nancy Parsons, Nina Axelrod, Wolfman Jack

 

You might just die… laughing!

 

The farmer Vincent Smith and his sister Ida is running a farm down in the south with a motel on it called the Motel Hello (with the o flicking on and off). Their main income comes from their meat smoking company, which provides the nearby area with the best meat around based on a family secret of theirs.

Vincent shots up the car of a young couple and brings the female, Terry to their home. He tells Terry that her boyfriend died in what was supposedly and accident and he lets Terry stay at their farm for a while. Terry starts to take a liking to Vincent, but when she finds out the farms secret things really go south.

Motel Hell is a strange film and I think that is partly done on purpose. It does not play like an average horror film, but instead has a weird sense of humour and style to it. It’s a subtle dark comedy that almost spoofs previous films such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in a very own and unique way.

It has a love story with Terry falling in love with the good old Vincent, a very weird thing for this young girl to do. This makes Vincent’s sister Ida jealous and the same can be said about Vincent’s brother and local sheriff Bruce who had taken Terry out on a date where he became quite rapy towards her, although that wasn’t something that scared Terry off from him at all after their date.

The secret of the farm is done weirdly, but still manage to balance its silliness so it never becomes a full-out comedy instead of a horror film. It is very much a schlock film and if you put away the idea that you are going to be watching a scary film very quickly, then you might find it enjoyable. It does have some dragging parts and it does take the viewer some time to figure out what exactly it is trying to be and I can see this putting off some viewers, especially the first time they attempt to watch this. No one should ever turn this off though, cause the ending is very twisted and fun and well worth waiting for.

Rory Calhoun and Nancy Parsons steals the film as Vincent and Ida. Both play their parts excellent and are very fun to watch. They understand the campiness of the film and what is required of them and plays it up perfectly. It was strange for me to see Parsons in a movie like this since I remember her so well as Beulah Balbricker from the Porky’s films. I didn’t care that much for Nina Axelrod as Terry. Her acting isn’t that great and the character makes so many weird decisions that she doesn’t work as a final girl that you are caring for. She is the only attractive person in the film though, so I guess that sets her apart somehow.

This film and The People That Time Forgot and its sequel The Land That Time Forgot might be the most known work of director Kevin Connor. His balancing of the comedy and horror aspect is done uniquely in this film. He did attempt to do a similar mixture on The House Where Evil Dwells a few years later, but on that one the balance wasn’t right and the silliness became too much.

Motel Hell is a unique and strange little film that I could see some horror fans with a particular taste for films of the late 70’s and early 80’s love. I could also see it become better with repeated viewing, but its problem lies in that most might not like the strangeness of it enough to want to revisit it. The dragging parts and the Terry character hurts the film a lot for my taste and while I don’t think it is a very good film, it is a film that should be given a chance.

 

 ★★½☆☆ 

 

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