What do you do when you set out to make a serious Horror film inspired by Psycho and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but you just don’t have the budget? You say “Fuck It”, go for comedy, and you make Motel Hell.
This gem has rightly become a tongue in cheek Cult Classic. Released in 1980, and like so many films reviewed here, didn’t do particularly well until it eventually found it’s audience on home release. What comes as a total shock to me is the producers didn’t think to market the film with a limited run of Smoked Meat! Which leads us in to the plot…
The Motel Hello (the “O” flickers on the sign, conveniently) is run by the Murderous Brother and Sister duo of Vincent and Ida. In addition to the Motel, the grounds have a small farm, a “secret garden” (we’ll get back to that), and a smokehouse where Vincent makes his “Famous Smoked Meat”. Naturally the secret ingredient is HUMAN FLESH, and they will go to any lengths to protect their secret, as well as maintain their supply. Particularly Ida. Vincent sets and maintains booby traps near the Motel to ensnare new victims which he takes to the secret garden, buries them up to their neck and feeds them through tubes until he is ready to cure and smoke their flesh…because for some idiotic reason, he only smokes three at a time.
Along the way, we meet the third and youngest sibling, Bruce. In a true twist of unpredictable comedy genius, Bruce left home at a young age and became an officer of the law! What crazy situations will this lead to? As it turns out, a lot of bizarre situations that will leave you scratching your head and wondering “What kind of mind thinks up Daffy Bullshit like this?” For fuck sakes, Vincent dons a giant Pig mask during the climactic chainsaw battle…for no fucking reason!
As random and nonsensical as this film is, it is a lot of fun and had me laughing way more than most Horror-Comedies. I’ve said many times before that often the stupider a Horror film is, the more i enjoy it, and in Motel Hell, we have another perfect example. The absurdity of films from this era seems to make them age like a fine wine, only getting better/shittier with age. I’m hoping to start hosting semi-regular Double Bill Screenings in the Greater Vancouver area, and Motel Hell is a perfect example of the kind of films i hope to showcase. Do you have any suggestions for other titles to screen? Venues to host? Ways i can pull this off while spending and or losing as little money as possible? Contact me, and let’s make this shit happen!
6/10 Random Pig Masks