1980's Motel Hell is very rewatchable. What do I mean by that? Each time I watch it, it feels like the first time (hope I don't break into a Foreigner song). I was introduced to Farmer Vincent through a mutual friend by the name of Joe Bob Briggs. Yes, I'm referencing MonsterVision again. I can't help it; I fucking worshiped that show. I came to trust Joe Bob's opinion after he disclosed his blandishment of It's Alive and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. His child-eyed cajolery mirrored mine, so when he started off the Motel Hell broadcast with four-star drive-in totals, I knew it was time to stop pecking at my cask of oversalted popcorn and FOCUS. This will be a keeper, I thought to myself. It was!
Maybe it's the similarity to TCM that appeals to me. Tobe Hooper was originally attached to direct, and I'm sure he would have nailed the delicate balance of horror and comedy (TCM2 anyone?). Ultimately, the job went to Kevin Connor, the mason behind 1974's From Beyond the Grave and 1976's At the Earth's Core. He gave the film a front-page sheen. The glazed, hyaloid visuals accent a stomach-turning script that implies some filthy fucking shit. Of course, you don't realize the muck of it all because of how entertained you are. Well, I shouldn't speak for you. I know I was entertained.
My target audience is the jaded horror fan. If you fit the bill, you dig Motel Hell. Normally, I wouldn't exert myself manufacturing a synopsis for a celebrated cult staple, but I'll try to keep it short. Agh, fuck it. This is the part of the review I would riffle. It concerns cannibals, okay? If you want details, either Netflix the sumbitch or read (literally) any other review. Moving on...this flick is infinitely quotable. "I used preservatives." "Meat's meat, and a man's gotta eat!" "I wonder if they're into animals." "Sometimes, I wonder about the karmic implications of our actions." The whole of the dialogue is one big quote. Oh, I forgot the tagline. "It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent's fritters!"
The pace is tethered to a zip-streaking speedboat. It's fast, in other words. If it were an actual speedboat, you would have to tie your tongue to the rudder with...hmm, I'm thinking copper wire. I'm not fond of the weak-willed love triangle, though. I'm sorry, but I can't buy a fair, rawboned blonde in her 20's falling for Farmer goddamn Vincent. It didn't take her long to bewail the loss of her chopper-bound beau. You still have John Ratzenberger's goofy face, dueling chainsaws, the hysterical S&M couple ("Let's get greasy!"), pig-headed pig heads and Rory Calhoun's eminently dry performance to lean on. At the end of the day, The Empire Strikes Back has aged extremely well.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 11:06 PM