‘Motel Hell’: Wacky and Funny (on Purpose) (review)

Down at the Motel Hello (the o being burned out, hence the title), Farmer Vincent (Rory Calhoun) and his sister Ida (Nancy Parsons) make sausage. They also kidnap travelers, plant them in the ground, and later grind them up for said sausage. After all, “It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent’s fritters.” Things are complicated when Vincent encounters a biker couple; he kills the man and decides the keep the woman—Terry—(Nina Axelrod) around. Terry falls in love with Vincent and plans to marry him, despite the warnings of Vincent and Ida’s brother Bruce (Paul Linke), who is infatuated with her. Terry, who was once all too eager to learn the family recipe for sausage, finds out the terrible truth and has to run for her life.

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I first saw this as a teenager on the TV show Monstervision. It was hosted by Joe Bob Briggs, and usually consisted of a laughably bad movie interspersed with snide comments and trivia by Briggs. So I re-watched the movie recently expecting it to be terrible but fun. It was fun, but not bad. It’s actually a fairly funny movie (though at times it gets a bit over the top, for example a scene with a pair of sadomasochistic swingers). I couldn’t help but snicker at dialogue like, “We’re gonna teach you the finer points of meat smoking.” I also enjoyed the scene when one of Vincent and Ida’s victims states, “We better find a place to crash” before they promptly crash. I watched this last with subtitles on, which hilariously illustrate the sound effects: “Distant guttural flittering,” “Flitter-howl continues,” “Glahrlgh!”

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“Sometimes I wonder about the karmic implications of these actions.”–actual quote

The most interesting thing about the movie is that Vincent and Ida are stereotypical rednecks in some senses, but in addition they’re rather likable. They don’t see what they’re doing as wrong; they see themselves as farmers making people happy with their delicious meats. They’re kind to their victims as much as possible, feeding them regularly and hypnotizing them before death to minimize suffering. Ironically Bruce comes out as the hero, even though he’s a selfish jerk who at one point tries to force himself on Terry. Meanwhile, Vincent is a gentleman, who insists on proposing to her before sexual relations.

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I do question Terry’s trusting nature; Vincent claims that he buried Terry’s boyfriend, and though she is upset she readily accepts it. I also wonder why she’s staying with Vincent and Ida—her boyfriend’s dying doesn’t make her an orphan! All in all, it’s a decent watch. Give it at least a passing glance, especially if you’re a vegetarian.

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Look! It’s John Ratzenberger! He’s gonna be lotsa burgers!

Published by GhoulieJoe

I wuvs the horror movies and like to write snarky reviews about them. I also included some pretentious as hell microfiction (don't worry, it's at the bottom).

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