Movie Review: Motel Hell (1980)

Pretty odd picture, am I right?
Motel Hell (1980) is one bizarre piece of filmmaking. The production quality here is eerily reminiscent of 1979's Phantasm. The opening credits are piped in neon and set to a strange, haunting score.

The plot is simple. Farmer Vincent makes the best smoked meats within a 100-mile radius. He doesn't distribute nationally because that focused sales territory allows him to keep the food quality high and the prices reasonable. Farmer Vincent believes in quality, you see? The man is a visionary--an altruistic businessman withholding his gift from the world in the interests of his artistic integrity.

Actually, he lives with his deranged sister Ida and plants the travelers that he captures in a garden, where he feeds them through funnels before slaughtering them, smoking them, and adding them to the recipes he creates to make Farmer Vincent's Smoked Meats.

After all, it takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent's fritters!

Rory Calhoun is unreal. This guy...wow, the performance he gives here is worth watching this campy frightfest unto itself. That saccharine grin. Those glazed eyes. Those hands tucked just so into the overalls. All of it adds up to one unsettling viewing experience.

Throw in the crazy-as-hell marriage plot and the psycho tubing incident and you have an exercise here in the uncanny. Campy uncanny, but uncanny nonetheless.

Here is a clip of Farmer Vincent's garden:

High art this clearly ain't, but it's entirely compelling all the same. This is available on Prime video if you are a subscriber, and it's a fun, kooky, strange 100 minutes of vintage horror.

Give it a watch, friends. As ol' Grannie was fond of saying: Meat is meat, and a man's gotta eat!

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