October Horrorthon 2012 – 4 – “Motel Hell”



It depresses me sometimes when a name so synonymous with a classic (cult or otherwise) is adopted by a newer and completely unrelated show or movie. I suppose I should thank Chef Ramsay for inadvertently (I assume) drawing attention to a decidedly different viewing experience, but what can I say, it irks me slightly.


THIS “Motel Hell” concerns Farmer Vincent, a man well known for providing delicious hickory smoked meats with a one of a kind taste. Do these meats have anything to do with the missing persons that seem to disappear near his farm ? Is there more to the meat than just pork ? Will his Sheriff brother figure it out in time, or is he in on it too ?! Will anyone actually check into the hotel that he also owns for some reason ?


First I’d like to point out the cleverness of his hotel being called the “Motel Hello” with the “o” clicking off and on. It says Motel Hell sometimes !! That’s the name of the movie this is !! That aside, this is a pretty strange flick. For one thing it could be re-cut to look like a drama, a la “The Shining (recut)” (http://youtu.be/KmkVWuP_sO0).


As it turns out, even the studios thought it was weird. It was originally to be directed by Tobe Hooper (Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Poltergeist) and distributed by Universal. However, once Universal read the script they dropped out, followed by Hooper (ironic, since the iconic chainsaw scenes in this film were inspired by HIS film). 3 years after the script was written, it was finally released, destined to become the bizarre cult classic it is today.


The cast includes a few familiar faces, including John Ratzenberger, Wolfman Jack and Rory Calhoun (which always reminds me of Mr. Burns’ quote about his dog looking like a young Rory Calhoun). The acting is fairly good, though Calhoun is the only one who doesn’t get really over the top at times (apart from wearing a pig head and wielding a chainsaw I suppose). He anchors the film and keeps a pretty ridiculous premise from going completely off the rails.


As I said, “Motel Hell” is a strange film. I’d seen it before, but I couldn’t remember what I’d thought of it. It’s slow at first, and for a “Horror/Comedy” it’s not particularly funny or horrific. That said, the two best scenes in the film are (of course) the pig-head chainsaw attack and a pretty great sequence in which 2 “swingers” mistakenly believe the Motel Hello is some sort of sex club. Of course, this made it pretty easy to tie up and dispatch them, but that’s the price you pay for mistaking human meat farms for sex clubs.


In the end I’m kind of conflicted about this movie. It’s not GREAT, but it’s weird enough to enjoy for the most part. That said, it’s probably my least favourite of the 4 movies I’ve watched so far this month. That’s certainly not a knock against it, but it’s hard to compete with a guy named Lanyard, an amazing shit-faced zombie soundtrack and a gory blob movie. Still, it’s gotta be better than watching Gordon Ramsay’s 57th show, right ? Right ?



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