Motel Hell (1980)

Vincent Smith (Rory Calhoun), proprietor of the Motel Hello and famously known as Farmer Vincent, the guy who makes the best smoked meats in the state, turns on the "No Vacancy" sign and goes out hunting. Lying in wait, he hears an approaching motorcycle, and he shoots out the tires as it goes by. Both rider and passenger are still alive, but he decides each will have different fates, as he is immediately smitten with the young blonde Terry (Nina Axelrod).

After waking, she finds out her boyfriend Bo (Everett Creach) is dead, and she decides to stay on with Vincent and his sister Ida (Nancy Parsons) while she recovers. She also starts a friendship with Vincent's younger brother Bruce (Paul Linke), who also happens to be the county sheriff. He also has a thing for Terry, but it is quite obvious after awhile that she prefers Vincent, who has promised to show her the secrets of smoking meat. Ida, however, is not too happy over the affection Vincent is lavishing on Terry, and is also concerned about how she will react when she does find out the secret.

The secret is not a selection of spices as Vincent claims, but a mixture of short pig and long pig. The short pig he keeps in a pen near the motel for all to see, while the long pig is planted in a secret garden a ways away from the motel, where guests and others who are trapped are buried up to their heads and fed an organic mixture through funnels to fatten them up for the kill.

Motel Hell was unabashedly jumping on the coattails of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre as well as cashing in on other horror films that came out in 1980. Surprisingly, it's a pretty low body count, with most of the horror part coming from the dual personality of Vincent (Ida for the most part is always crazy) and his inability to see other humans as anything but animals, while this also supplies a good deal of the comedy. In the end, as gruesome as the film makes itself out to be, it is meant to be a black comedy at its heart - no matter how disturbing it is to hear a bunch of people with their vocal chords slit gurgling away to each other.

Rory Calhoun and Nancy Parsons are definitely up to the job, while Nina Axelrod mainly needs to look pretty or distressed. The movie does tend to drag in most of the scenes with Paul Linke, although he gets to participate in the chainsaw duel at the end. Yes, I did say chainsaw duel - which should tell you in itself this is a perfect slice of '80s horror that should not be missed.

Motel Hell (1980)
Duration: 101 minutes
Starring: Rory Calhoun, Nancy Parsons, Nina Axelrod, Paul Linke
Director: Kevin Connor

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