Motel Hell

It’s Flashback Friday!

This Week’s Flashback Movie….

Reel Small 1

Reel Small 1

Reel Small 1

 

 

Release Date: October 18, 1980
Runtime: 101 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: United Artists (MGM)
Director: Kevin Connor
Cast: Rory Calhoun; Nancy Parsons; Paul Linke; Nina Axelrod; Wolfman Jack

[POSSIBLE SPOILERS]

This is one fun, albeit totally demented movie!!

I love it when movies don’t take themselves too seriously.  This one has its tongue planted firmly in its cheek, understanding its own warped sense of the macabre. As a result, it makes for quite a twisted hour and forty minutes.

Veteran western actor Rory Calhoun stars as Farmer Vincent.  Along with his sister, Ida (Nancy Parsons, Mrs. Balbricker from “Porky’s”!!), they are the innkeepers of the titular motel and proprietors of the famous line of Farmer Vincent Meats.  Farmer Vincent’s meats are said to be the best around, due to his family’s secret recipe and smoking method.  Their legendary smoked meats attract customers from all over the area to come and sample their jerky.  Enter Terry and Bo: two young lovers who are having a nice peaceful motorcycle ride down a secluded road when they are felled by something in their path.  Bo is DOA, but Terry lives, is rescued by Vincent, and taken back to his spread.  Soon enough, other unlucky motorists get bumped off the road and are rescued by Vincent.  All the while, the Farmer Vincent’s Meats business is as prosperous as ever.  Do you see where this is going??

Calhoun and Parsons are the picture of backcountry weird, with their perpetually upbeat dispositions and creepy smiles.  They are completely in on the joke of the movie and perfectly comprehend the oddball tone director Kevin Connor is aiming for.  All of the other actors, while seemingly in on the joke themselves, act with much more restraint, but it suits their characters since they are naïve to the shenanigans at the motel.  No one is needlessly over-the-top, with the exception of the sexually freaky couple who come seeking a room.  But even then, it works because the movie, in and of itself, is over-the-top.

Although produced on a low budget, the film never looks it.   All of the locations are well used and the picture is very professionally shot and edited.  As I was watching the movie, I was reminded of 1980’s Wes Craven or John Landis.  Both of those directors are famous for their mix of horror with comedy, and here those two genres are fused quite seamlessly together.  Accompanying and incidental music, as is so often the case in horror movies, is never overused and, in fact, there is little to none in the climactic scene at the end.  How refreshing!

So, all things considered, a very pleasant, but make no mistake, strange way to feed the creepy.  It’s considered somewhat of a camp classic today, which is accurate enough, but don’t let that steer you into thinking it’s one of those movies that is ‘so bad, it’s good.’  Quite the contrary.  It’s just good!

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