Death By Cinema – 14 – Motel Hell

“If I must just choose the method of my demise, I choose…

Britt

Death By Cinema!” -Britt Rhuart

Day 14 – Motel Hell

So, this is the first time I’ve done this so far this month, but I’ve already seen this movie. However, I haven’t seen it for about 10 years, so my memory might not be too great. That being said, I remember liking this movie. I remember it as a solid horror film with some really fun humor as well. I know Rory Calhoun is in the film (poor Rory Calhoun). I will also say the tagline is one of my favorites, “It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent’s fritters!” So, let’s see if film itself is as decent as my memory of the film.

Random Thoughts While Watching the Film:
So the motel itself is actually called Motel Hello, but the neon on the O keeps flickering in and out. Decent sight gag.
Wait… John Ratzenberger is in this film?!? He is according to the credits anyway!
We see Farmer Vincent kidnapping two bikers and dragging the guy’s body to his shed. Later, we see Vincent selling jerky to passing motorists. I think we all know where this is going, but I just keep thinking, he charges $3 for a whole big box of jerky?!? Granted even if that is 1980 dollars and the meat is human, that’s still a hell of a deal for jerky!
It’s kinda weird that Farmer Vincent just tells a cop that he found an accident, one person died, and he buried the body and the cop doesn’t even think twice about it. Doesn’t even question if there could be any foul play.
Vincent hires the girl in the motorcycle accident a job working for him and his sister, Ida. There’s no way that’ll backfire for the girl.
I like the way this film is taking it’s time and keeping it really quiet, especially in the night scenes. It makes it all the creepier.
A meat inspector is inspecting (duh) the property after dark. He comes upon the “garden” and sees a bunch of burlap sacks moving with some croaking noises coming from under them. He lifts the bag and, yup, he finds a body buried up to the neck in the ground, the head moving around. The croaking noises are coming because Vincent cut their throats so the vocal chords are severed. Too bad he’ll never tell anyone.
Now we see a tour van for a punk group called Ivan and the Terribles. And there’s John Ratzenberger! He’s a member of this punk group. Somehow, I never thought of Ratzenberger as a pink rocker, but he does have the beard for it in this film.
Vincent takes a great deal of pride in his work, particularly the traps, because he can be creative. That’s a cool character trait.
Damn, Vincent and Ida are the friendliest nuts I can remember in a film.
Seeing the garden of buried bodies “growing” out of the ground reminds me of the tagline for the film Invasion of the Blood Farmers (there’s a film I might consider reviewing). “They plant the living and harvest the dead!”
Actual quote: “Meat’s meat and man’s gotta eat.”
So they have a picnic, Vincent, Ida, the sheriff, and the girl who “survived” the motorcycle accident. They eat Vincent’s meat (eww to both the pun and the fact). Ida makes like she’s gonna tell why the meat is so good and Vincent punches he in the stomach. The sheriff and the girl just treat it like Vincent was rude.
Hey, they’re showing The Monster That Challenged the World at the local drive-in. Far out.
Wait… I recognize that voice on the radio… THAT’S WOLFMAN JACK!!!
The sheriff just sent a bunch of drunken hicks who were screwing in the back of a drive-in packing.
Well, Bruce (the sheriff) just tried to sexually assault Terry (the survivor), but they’re cool after chasing down a lead on a different assault (unknown to them caused by Vincent).
I just figured out Bruce is Vincent and Ida’s brother. He doesn’t know about the murders or cannibalism though.
A couple of swingers show up at the motel. They are really fun. Too bad they’re going in the ground soon.
The female swinger also seems to be something of a dominatrix, while the dude is a hairy transvestite. On the TV a preacher is speaking and… that’s also Wolfman Jack! That’s awesome.
Actual quote: Male swinger: “Hey, I wonder if they’re into animals.” Female swinger: “I certainly hope so!”
The swingers are super into everything Vincent and Ida are doing to them… at first at least.
Actual quote: “This is special laughing gas! You do the breathing, we do the laughing!”
Vincent is a real nice father figure to Terry. Too bad he’s also a goddamn lunatic who murdered her boyfriend and made him into jerky. I like the relationship between those two, though. It’ll lead to an even bigger betrayal when she finds out.
Ida just tried to drown Terry. Luckily Vincent saved her. I’m not entirely sure why Ida did that.
And now Terry’s trying to seduce Vincent. What? Why? Jesus, this girl has daddy issues.
Hey, here’s Wolfman Jack as Rev. Billy, who offers to marry Vincent and Terry. Apparently, Rev. Billy’s a good friend.
Bruce has some suspicions about Vincent now, but only because Vincent’s trying to get into Terry’s pants and visa versa.
Bruce just said he’s madly in love with Terry, but Terry’s in love with Vincent and they’ve only known each other a few weeks.
The scene with Vincent, Terry, and Bruce in the bathroom is pretty damn funny and well written.
And now Ida’s poisoning Terry’s champagne. Is… is she jealous of Terry because she’s going to marry her brother? That’s what it seems like… and Vincent’s in on it? What the hell is going on?
Now Vincent is hypnotizing the heads of the punk group in the ground, making them feel one last great high. The editing of this scene’s pretty cool. Vincent and Ida then break the necks of the punks. You know, that was a rather merciful and kind end for a murder.
Uh, oh, one of the victims seems to be crawling his way out of the ground while Bruce is investigating. Bruce also comes on Terry waking from her drug induced sleep and tries to convince her that Vincent and Ida are killers.
Alright a chainsaw’s coming into play!
So apparently Bruce found about 200 cars that Vincent dumped in a marsh. That probably places Vincent as one of the most prolific serial killers of all time.
A large group of Vincent’s victims are out of the ground and coming after him, croaking all the way. They have a big zombie feel to them, especially as they kill Ida.
Vincent is really good at rationalizing his killings to Terry. I really think it’s funny that Vincent calls Bruce “the biggest cannibal in the whole county,” even though it’s unknowingly.
Bruce is coming to the rescue of Terry, but here comes Vincent and HOLY SHIT! He’s coming at Bruce with a chainsaw and has a large pig’s head over is own head. Bruce picks up a chainsaw and… CHAINSAW FIGHT!!! Careful boys, you could put an eye out.
I do think the chainsaw fight is a bit slow and plodding, nowhere near as fast paced and intense as it should be. Plus it’s really dark. It’s not bad, just a bit disappointing. But Bruce delivers a chainsaw right to Vincent’s gut, and that’s cool.
Actual line: Vincent’s dying words: “I’m the biggest hypocrite of them all. My meats… I used preservatives.” Glorious.
Bruce and Terry go back to the secret garden and find Ida buried, but with her legs up.
After that, the movie just kind of ends. I’m still wondering what happened to the victims who escaped, but oh, well…

I actually did like this film and I do think it holds up fairly well. Now, this is not a perfect film, nor would I even call it a good film, but it is a very watchable film with some good points. The cinematography and editing are actually fairly decent throughout. The pacing keeps the tension high, adding in a warding sense of fear, fear of the dark and fear of silence. Rory Calhoun and really most of the actors were entertaining, plus the cameos from Wolfman Jack and John Ratzenberger were very fun to see. The best thing about this film though is the writing, because rarely have I seen the concept of a black comedy done so well. It stays a horror film throughout and is actually frightening in several scene. But it doesn’t do what horror comedies often do. The comedy is not broad or silly, as in Evil Dead, nor is it unintentional, like in countless bad horror films. It is subtle and genuinely surprises when there are some funny moments. Not only that, but the moments are so dark, we feel bad for laughing, dirty even. The scenes where there are humor should not be funny, but they just are. Not even laugh out loud funny, I only chuckled, but simply good dark humor. It reminds me of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Psycho, and Sweeney Todd (the musical), and yet it’s also like none of these. I’d recommend this film, though I realize this will not be for everyone. Heck, it’s not even for all horror or exploitation fans. It’s definitely not for the highbrow audience. But there is an audience for this film. It was successful and should be again on the home video market. Check it out for a decent time. Just don’t eat before, after, or during.

Tomorrow, I go to a different for of exploitation, the spaghetti western, and watch Sergio Corbucci’s The Great Silence!

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