AUGUST 13 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : MOTEL HELL
We begin with Vincent calmly sitting on his motel's front porch. The farmer collects his shotgun and other equipment before setting on an early morning hunt. At the same time, Terry and her bearded boyfriend Bo are cruising down the highway on a hog with sidecar. The girl is sitting behind her man, not in the sidecar, and neither have helmets on. Vincent sees the violent crash when a tire blows (the blowout is for reasons suspected, but not confirmed until later). The hunter turned rescuer loads the injured girl into his truck and takes her home. Ida, who throughout the movie will display some medical knowledge, is given the task of nursing Terry back to health. When she does regain consciousness, she is told that Bo died in the crash and that Vincent buried him in the local cemetery.
Bob shows up for a surprise inspection of Vincent's pigs the next day. Poor Bob, the scriptwriters conspired to laden him with onerous pig comparisons. Vincent says, "Go on in, make yourself at home." when he enters the pig sty; then Bob clumsily falls into a large mud puddle when surprised by the farmer. Between oink sounds, the inspector does have time to take notice of a secret garden on a remote part of the farm/motel property. He sneaks back that evening to take a peak, but displays the same level of stealth as a lumbering sow (he drives past the motel with his car lights off). In the garden a horrifying discovery is made: burlap sacks cover human heads! The people are still alive, but buried up to their necks in the soil. Their vocal cords have been cut as well. Before he can fully comprehend the situation, Vincent whacks Bob on the head with a shovel.
A marijuana-smoking band, Ivan & The Terribles, is on the road when their luck takes a turn for the worse. A number of steel traps litter the road; one of them causes a tire to blow and the van rolls down an embankment. In a moment of foreshadowing, Ivan says something about "finding a place to crash" just before the accident. Despite rolling several times, the musicians are all unharmed. But, before they can extricate themselves from the wreck, Vincent trots down the slope and feeds a tube through a window. He turns on the tank and chloroform (or something) fills the van.
There is a conversation between Vincent and Ida that tells volumes about this movie's lure. He joyfully talks about how important the traps are to him. Not necessarily the steel bear traps, he means the different ways of catching people. The pair are honestly happy with what they do: catching, burying, and finally harvesting people. The unlucky folks are used in "Farmer Vincent's" famous meat products. The movie is so incongruous, with cannibalism and honest country living freely mixed, as to be fantastically entertaining.
The main characters (Vincent, Ida, Terry, and Bruce) have a nice picnic where the story of how Vincent started is told. It turns out that years ago a mangy old dog was bothering grandma Smith (that is family's last name). Her loyal grandson caught the animal, smoked it, and presented the canine jerky to his beloved grandmother. She loved it! Terry is a little shocked by her hosts laughing and reminiscing. Ida starts to say something about Vincent's secret ingredients, but he punches her in the solar plexus.
We also are treated to seeing the herd of buried humans at feed time. The farmer attaches funnels to their heads and scoops the food in. Try not to giggle at the sight. You will be unsuccessful.
Personally, were I an unfortunate human turnip, I would be worried about what was being stuffed into the funnel. The sicko ran my car off the road, buried me in the ground, cut my vocal cords, and is planning to cook me. He could put anything in that funnel: lye, Windex, or even molten lead (sometimes reading fantasy novels leads to paranoia).
Bruce takes Terry to the drive-in one evening. By which I mean they park on a hill far above the screen. Before settling in, he has to disperse some vehicles full of couples making out. He does this with the lights and sirens (Bruce is sort of a one trick pony). Several moments of chaos occur as cars scatter in all directions and one confused girl runs willy nilly in her birthday suit. (Why did she get out of the car in the first place?) Following that, they sit back to watch the movie through binoculars, with the sound pumped in over the radio. Bruce attempts to get crassly sexual, but his effort is interrupted by a woman screaming over the CB.
The woman calling for help over citizens' band was Vincent's latest catch. He has her safely planted in the ground before Bruce ever comes around to see if his older brother or sister heard anything at the motel. Ida explains the hysterical call was probably some kids having fun.
A swinging couple checks into the motel. They are looking for some hot action and the woman seems to find Vincent irresistible. The kinky gal has a totally unneeded, but priceless, scene. While wearing boots and a black outfit, she literally attacks the room's decor with a whip! Somebody has been filming my dreams again.
The plot has been thickening around Vincent and Terry's relationship. It is obvious that he regards her as his ray of sunshine, while Terry finds excuses to kiss and touch him. Ida is a little jealous of Terry and invites the young lady to go tubing. So, we are treated to Terry in a soaked white t-shirt. The makers of "Twister" could have learned a lot if they had only watched this film. Two hours of Helen Hunt and Jami Gertz in white t-shirts, in driving thunderstorms, and not one... ...er, sorry. I was a little sidetracked there. To get back to "Motel Hell:" Ida attempts to drown Terry, but Vincent arrives just in time to rescue his precious peach. She was already falling for him, now he saves her life "again." Terry has the serious hots for Vincent; they decide to get married.
Ladies, I have a question. Is Rory Calhoun a perfect example of male virility? I mean, two attractive women have fallen for him in a matter of days. What in the roaring heck? Oh, forget it...
The matrimonial news is a crushing blow for Bruce. He cannot understand how a girl would pick his wrinkled older brother over himself. While Terry lies drugged, Vincent and Ida work on getting the latest order of pork and people ready. The sheriff does ten years of investigating in a few hours, discovering shotgun pellets embedded in the wrecked motorcycle (Bo and Terry's accident), along with hundreds of sunken cars in the nearby marsh. Get the point Bruce? See how much work you can accomplish if you lay off the donuts for one night?
I will freely admit that my unfounded cop/donut joke was going too far, but he should have caught Vincent earlier.
The enlightened sheriff finds Terry and shakes her awake. She is horrified by the story, but Ida overhears their conversation and Bruce is no match for his big sister. Add to the mounting tension that the planted stock of humans manages to dig themselves free (should have bound their arms) and you have the makings of a climatic ending. It looks like a zombie film at times, since the newly liberated human herd is uncoordinated and covered with mud. The movie is not a zombie flick and we are treated to Vincent discussing theology and sociology. The main attraction is the final confrontation between Vincent and Bruce. Both are armed with chainsaws and the crazed farmer is wearing a mask made from a pig's head!
"Motel Hell" is well worth your time, especially for connoisseurs of 1980's cult movies.