B Movie Challenge: Motel Hell

Motel Hell (1980) - IMDb

In the wee hours of the morning (you know, when you should be sleeping but choose to watch a horrible, terrible, and excitable horror classic) my stomach growls like a beast to be satisfied. As I reach for the bag of dollar tree beef jerky (teriyaki flavored of course) I am reminded how dog-gone expensive this bag of meat delicacies is! Due to the high cost of beef, the ingredients, and the amount of time it takes to process, jerky is highly rated as one of the most expensive food products on the market. I could be wrong, but I bet they would save a few bucks if they would try Farmer Vincent’s method of using human flesh from the 1980 country horror classic Motel Hell (supposed to be Motel Hello, but of course, the neon O is burnt out).

Conceived after the young writers/producers Robert and Steven-Charles Joeffe (who both went on to produce The Fly II and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country) watched a few bad turkeys at a local drive-in, they looked at each other and said “we can do better than this crap!” And thus a film that not only features “Wolfman” Jack (clap for him) but also features an early role for future Cheers know-it-all John Ratzenberger (who gets his throat ripped out, which many fans of the TV show wanted to be done for years) was produced (pun intended). Noted for its campy style approach, the film was originally written in more of a serious vain, but when director Kevin Connor, a veteran of television and low-budget films, came on board, a funnier approach was pitched. Raised by some critics, and buried by others, this witty approach made the film stand out like a scarecrow in a field of slashers like  HalloweenProm Night, and Friday the 13th

Class of 1980: How MOTEL HELL Reawakened My Love of Horror - Daily Dead

The plot of land here involves Farmer Vincent, played perfectly by veteran western actor Rory Calhoun, and his sister, menacing Porky’s actress Nancy Parsons, who co-op a hotel and a profitable organic, natural meat business on their farm. Visitors from all over come to taste some of Farmer Vincent’s fritters, but like all good horror movies, they probably don’t want to know what the secret sauce is!

As the local Sherrif begins to get suspicious of all the local vagrants starting to disappear, he realizes Farmer Vincent likes to go hog wild on his guests (at least the naughty ones). At times the campiness does give way to some truly horrifying scenes, but when you have a crowd of people planted in the ground with their vocal cords ripped out, it’s hard not to smile a little bit (as well as a hunger for some great raw steak).

Kevin Conner (who went on to direct classics like The Christmas Kiss II  and The Cookie Mobster) brings this crop in at a perfect one hour and forty minutes of pure cannibalistic delight, including perfect pig killer masks, fertilized dialogue, and an amazing final chainsaw fight worthy of an Evil Dead movie. So if you’re traveling down the road and feel your eyes need a rest, head towards the vacancy sign, grab yourself some finger food drenched with Sister Ida’s dressing, and harvest yourself some frightful chuckles at the Motel Hell…o!

You can stream Motel Hell on Amazon Prime Video

About Ian Klink

As a filmmaker, writer, and artist, Ian Klink’s work includes the feature film Anybody’s Blues and short stories for Weren't Another Way to Be: Outlaw Fiction Inspired by Waylon Jennings, Negative Creep: A Nirvana-Inspired Anthology, A-Z of Horror: U is for Unexplained, The Creeps, Vampiress Carmilla, The Siren’s Call, and Chilling Tales For Dark Nights. Born and raised in Iowa, Klink lives with his family in Pennsylvania where he shares his talents as a teacher of multimedia studies.

View all posts by Ian Klink

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