Motel Hell (1980)
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Critic Reviews for Motel Hell
Just on sheer chutzpah, it's got to be one of the most wholly worthwhile American horror films of the early 1980s.
Motel Hell is a rather well-executed dark comedy that plays it fairly straight, much thanks to the outstanding performances from Calhoun & Parsons who give the film a nice sense of gravity against the film's more cartoonish supporting characters.
The movie is slapsticky and obvious, but it includes one genuinely nightmarish concept: Vincent and Ida cultivate a secret garden of moaning and gurgling burlap sacks -- bags that cover the heads of the couple's buried-to-the-neck victims.
[Blu-ray Review] For genre fans of the offbeat, horrific and tongue-in-cheek, Scream Factory's impressively packed Collector's Edition Blu-ray release of "Motel Hell" is worth seeking out.
...a low-budget shocker that's picked up a sizable cult following over the years, thanks in no small part to Calhoun, whose welcoming smile and aging matinee-idol looks made his turn as a villainous madman fond of human flesh all that more effective.
Audience Reviews for Motel Hell
Motel Hell is a gem of 80's horror sleaze. The premise is quite ridiculous, but is a terrific horror comedy. Directed by Kevin Conner, Motel Hell is one of those films that though is not perfect; should be seen by every horror fan. Motel Hell is pure camp, and if you enjoy cheesy horror flicks, then look no further than Motel Hell. This film has it all. What makes this film so enjoyable to watch is the bizarre premise for the films plot. What I enjoyed about Motel Hell was that it was a parody of more serious films such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Psycho. Director Kevin Conner definitely delivers good comedic elements here, and it's what makes this film such a memorable viewing. Motel Hell is a must see horror comedy fans. The acting is corny, but despite this, lead actor Rory Calhoun gives one memorable performance as Farmer Vincent. Another performance worthy of mention is that of legendary radio DJ Wolfman Jack as Reverend Billy. As a whole, Motel Hell is a fun, zany and unique horror comedy that like I said needs to be seen. This is mindless silly fun that will appeal to anyone looking for a good horror comedy. The film is more tongue in cheek than anything, but for what it is, it delivers good entertainment. I think that Motel Hell is one of those unique classics that most horror fans have seen, but a great majority of genre fans haven't seen. Either way, this is one of those films that surely every horror fan has heard about. Not a perfect film by any means, Motel Hell is nonetheless essential for every horror fan to watch at least once. A truly unique horror film.
This definitely would fit under the category "So bad it's good", problem is it's just NOT bad enough. If it was even more over the top and ridiculous it might actually have been funnier. Being that it took it's silliness too seriously it wasn't that funny...at all. Motel Hell lacked in it's own self-awareness. It wanted to be an intense, scary Texas Chainsaw '74 rip off and a funny-like Three Stooges film at the same time. It didn't mesh well, got lost in transitions, therefore becoming just an average cheesefest and nothing more. The situations and characters showed no signs of reason or rationality (whatsoever), even in their own morbidities, that being ridiculously more over the top would have worked better (Godzilla taking a shit on their farm would have been excusable). A film with so much potential, and lacking in (extreme)humor, becomes flat in the end result. I'm aware of it's cult status, and I would never debunk a fan, but personally I thought this film failed on almost every level. I hope the remake is much better because this is one horror film that should definitely be remade. I give it 2 1/2 stars for the effort and it's intentional, sickening approach to poke fun at the genre. I also liked how it paid homage to certain horror films. But that's about it. Could have been so much better.
Wonderfully psychotic and laugh-out-loud funny.
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