Motel Hell (1980) - USA - Horror - Rated R
Directed by Kevin Connor
Stars Rory Calhoun, Paul Linke, Nancy Parsons, Nina Axelrod, Wolfman Jack, Elaine Joyce, John Ratzenberger
A movie that truly and successfully 'serves' up an odd dish of humor and horror, perhaps with an even odder mix of characters.
Vincent Smith is the small town owner of the Motel Hello and somewhat of a product celebrity as he makes and packages his own meats under his Farmer Vincent brand which brings tourists seeking out his meats, and provides him with a very special ingredient he uses for his meats. You see, in order to cut costs and remain competitive, Vincent uses people as one of his ingredients in his meats, and while procuring more stock early one morning, one of his would be victims is a pretty young woman he immediately has a soft spot for and ends up nursing her back to health. Well this new lady also catches the eye of his younger brother, also the sheriff of this one-horse small town, and the competition between the two brothers over her puts Vincent's secret at risk of being discovered and creates a friction between the two brothers.
Though Motel Hell is essentially a horror movie, it is also a black comedy. Paul Linke is humorous as the small town sheriff, and only in a town like this could his character become a police officer. Rory Calhoun does a fantastic job of wearing two faces as Vincent: that of an easy going farmer who injects bits of humor into his antics in acquiring and tending for his 'livestock', and yet he has an intense, frightening side that reminds us this is a horror movie too.
Motel Hell is not your typical movie as it does not easily fit into a general category. It has strong comical elements, strong horror elements, and it is quite satirical as it has influences from various 70s horror themed movies that one could look upon it as wrapping up the 70s horror scene just before the slasher craze took off. Motel Hell succeeds in telling a story, developing its characters, and very well at that even if it occasionally drags a tiny bit due to that, and gives us a chuckle, a scare or two, a classic chainsaw duel, and one of the funniest lines ever uttered by a dying character in a movie.
My Rating: 4 Fingers