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  • Motel Hell
    • Motel Hell
    • Runtime:102 min
    • Release Date:2017-01-17 12:20:00
    • Director: Kevin Connor
    • Genres: Comedy, Horror
    • Studio:


This movie stars Rory Calhoun and other people less famous than Rory
Calhoun. This alone should let you know this is strictly a grade B
flick, if the title and cover art don't. The movie centers around Rory
playing a farmer named Vincent. Vincent also runs a hotel with his
brick wall of a sister, Ida. She is terrific in her role as a freaky
fat weirdo. The plot of the movie is fairly standard: man uses bear
traps to cause car crashes, then plants the live bodies of the victims
in a garden and grows them for food. This mundane existence is
complicated by the arrival of a car crash victim that Vincent takes a
shine to, which leads to scary new places (for Vincent; for normal
people, not so much). This is a good B-movie. It's interesting, the
acting is pretty good, it has some funny parts, and it's a little
creepy. If you like B-movies or Rory Calhoun, you can't go wrong with
Motel Hell.


*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Farmer Vincent (Rory Calhoun) runs Motel Hello with his sister Ida
(Nancy Parsons). He also causes accidents for unsuspecting motorists,
buries them up to their necks in a secret garden…and periodically
kills them to make his delicious famous meat. There's also unsuspecting
Terry (Nina Axelrod) and bumbling sheriff Bruce (Paul Linke).

This is a failed attempt at a cannibal comedy. The basic idea of the
script is decent but it's ruined by terrible dialogue and stupid
comedy. To make things worse Axelrod and Linke have to be two of the
worst actors I've ever seen. Axelrod is beautiful but has zero acting
ability. Linke is somewhat handsome but acts like an idiot most of the
time. Also Parsons goes WAY over the top in her role. It's amusing at
first but gets tired pretty quickly. The only thing that saves this is
a few–very few–comedic and horror bits do work (LOVE the homage to
"Night of the Living Dead" near the end) and Calhoun. He has an
easy-going charm that suits this role perfectly and does what he can
with his bad dialogue. His casual explanation about why he's doing this
is very funny and his final line is a classic. So it is worth seeing
for him and the final chainsaw fight is kind of fun. Still I was bored
more often that not. I can only give it a 4.


"Motel Hell" is quite a difficult film to gauge. It is referred to as a
horror-comedy, but that description isn't very accurate, as it is more
weird than funny and more macabre than scary.

The story revolves around a couple of hoteliers (played by Rory Calhoun
and Nancy Parsons), who have a side business selling fine smoked meats.
But what makes the meats so good is the terrifying secret ingredient of
human flesh.

I have to say, going into this film, I wasn't quite sure what to
expect. With cannibalism being a factor in the film, you might be
expecting a lot of gruesome scenes. Yet, surprisingly, there is very
little in the way of graphic gore to be found. The story is also a bit
odd, in that there are some scenes that seem to drag on, yet give you
little in the way of a pay-off. Also, most of the acting is fairly
poor. Whether this is due to the lack of skills of the actors, or a
case of a script that gives them little to work with, I can't really
say. The side drama about the love triangle involving Terry (played by
Nina Axelrod) and the brother of the cannibal farmer, who is also the
town's Sheriff (played by Paul Linke), is little more than a strained
(and sometimes dull) attempt to set up the final conflict between the
brothers. Although, the film can boast of being an early work for actor
John Ratzenberger (who would go onto heights of television fame on the
series "Cheers"). Unfortunately, he gets very little to do in the film
(including not a single piece of dialog) being nothing more than a
victim to be killed. Director Kevin Connor never really seems to bring
the story to life, until towards the very end. And if you haven't found
yourself engaged long before that point, it probably won't much matter
to you. The cinematography is fine, but it feels like it would play
better on an old drive-in screen, than on your television, which is
probably only fitting, as the film was obviously geared for such a

The only things that save this film from the scrap pile, are the last
20 minutes of the film and the solid performance of Rory Calhoun as the
cannibalistic farmer. He manages to make you believe both his down-home
country manners and his twisted psychotic reasoning in killing people
for food. His performance stands high above anyone else in the film.
And the final battle at the film's end also brings a spark of life to
what, up until this point, has been a very strange and slow-moving
tale. When Calhoun's character comes out wearing a pig's head and
wielding a chainsaw, it is truly a sight to behold.

As I said at the start, "Motel Hell" is a hard film to figure out. It's
not really good and looks extremely dated today, but neither is it
total crap and completely uninteresting. Die-hard horror buffs might
want to check this one out, but I highly doubt many others would have
much interest in this cult film. It really is an enigma in the world of
horror cinema.

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