Next to last week’s Phantom of the Paradise and the upcoming debut of the Director’s Cut of Night Breed, Motel Hell has been the release I’ve been looking forward to the most from our friends at Scream Factory.
When it was originally released back in 1980 this was one of the few horror movies that I didn’t get to see at the 62 Drive-In. It wasn’t because of the subject matter but I was on vacation with my Grandparents when it was playing, my Father however did catch it and thankfully he didn’t spoil too much of the film before I was able to watch it later that year on the Movie Channel…and I would make sure to sit and watch it whenever it aired.
Motel Hell is a wonderfully wicked dark comedy but make no mistakes about its horror connection, you might be laughing one minute and cringing at the carnage the next…and sometimes a little of both.
Directed by Kevin Connor (The Land That Time Forgot, Wizards and Warriors) and written by Robert and Steven-Charles Jaffe (Demon Seed, Ghost) the film could have easily ended up just a schlocky B picture. Thankfully though the writing and the cast headed up by the late great Rory Calhoun (The Texan, How To Marry a Millionaire) is the perfect combination to keep the film on track with it’s healthy seasoning of humor and horror. Calhoun plays Farmer Vincent who with the help of his sister Ida (Nancy Parsons) runs not only a little off the road Motel but the real money maker for the duo which is “Farmer Vincent’s Smoked Meats”. They live in a small town where Vincent and Ida’s younger brother Bruce, played by Paul Linke (CHiPs, K-Pax), is sheriff and has no clue as to what his older siblings are doing to the unwary travelers who finds themselves at the wrong place at the wrong time. Families who check into the Motel Hello are sure to stock up on the gift boxes of smoked meats never realizing that the motto “It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent’s fritters.” applies especially to the secret ingredient of…long pig.
Terry (Nina Axelrod) and her boyfriend Bo Tulinski (Everett Creach) just so happen to be one of those couples in the wrong place at the wrong time. Bo loses control of the motorcycle they are riding which causes Terry to be thrown off and knocked unconscious while her boyfriend wraps the bike around a nearby tree. You’ve probably already guessed that the loss of control has little to do with Bo’s driving skills and more to do with a trap laid by Vincent who is quick to pick up the two and haul them back to the motel, though each of them have very different yet equally dark fates ahead of them.
Now if you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing Motel Hell for yourself you might want to skip the theatrical trailer presented below as it is filled with SPOILERS. I also have to add that the trailer is nothing like the finished film…they are treating it like it’s Friday the 13th or something.
In fact, what I mentioned about the tone of the trailer seems to have come from the creators of the film having a different opinion from the studio on the type of film they were making.
As to be expected, we fans of such cult classic releases from Scream Factory are treated to a slew of extra features on this Blu-Ray/DVD combo:
NEW Audio Commentary with director Kevin Connor, moderated by filmmaker Dave Parker
NEW It Takes All Kinds: The Making of MOTEL HELL featuring interviews with director Kevin Connor, producers/writers Robert Jaffe and Steven Charles Jaffe and actor Marc Silver
NEW Shooting Old School with cinematographer Thomas Del Ruth
Another Head on the Chopping Block: An interview with actor Paul Linke
From Glamour to Gore: An interview with actress Rosanne Katon
Ida, Be Thy Name: A look back at MOTEL HELL’s frightful female protagonist Ida Smith
Original Theatrical Trailer
The great news is that you don’t have to wait for the release of Motel Hell, it’s available today and you can go pick it up and watch it tonight! Now…I have this box of smoked meats that Scream Factory was kind enough to send me and I won’t lie, as I’ve been writing this post my mouth has been watering something fierce.