Up for Grabs. In the movies, most hotels are dumps. Not only will at least one letter of the word "HOTEL" be burned out, but the character will always have the neon sign visible from the window. The sign could be shorthand for the character's internal conflict, or simply a method of telling you he's down on his luck. That is, the guy must be poor because if he wasn't he'd be in a better hotel, right? Neon hotel and bar signs are a staple of the Drunken Montage, representing the places the montage's subject has gone. This may signify a No-Tell Motel and/or Hell Hotel, and is related to Eiffel Tower Effect and Signs of Disrepair.
ExamplesFilms — Live-Action
- In Motel Hell, the neon sign says "Motel Hello", but with the O burned out.
- In The Matrix, the opening and closing scenes take place in the "Heart O' The City Hotel". Except for the word "Heart", the sign is blue neon.
- A.I.: Artificial Intelligence: The very suggestive hotel sign is flashing in the room when Gigolo Joe steps in to meet his next client.
- And in the original The Blues Brothers movie, Elwood's cheap apartment is across the street from neon lights, most visible here from about 1:12 on.
- The Terminator: Blinking neon sign visible in the background just as the Terminator enters his hotel room through the window, seen here (and again at the end of the vid, as he leaves the same way).
- Revenge of the Nerds Part 2: Nerds In Paradise: the nerds go to a fraternity convention in Florida and stay at the Hotel Coral Essex. To muster up support against Proposition 15 (which basically says, "No Nerds Allowed") they throw a big bash at the hotel, hacking the sign so some of the letters burn out - now it's "Hot oral sex."
- Though not a hotel sign, in Batman Returns, Selina Kyle's apartment is dramatically lit by a neon sign which reads "HELLO THERE" — until eventually, the "O" and "T" get removed.
- In Guards! Guards!, the tavern next to Sam Vimes's lodging house has a magically illuminated sign where the magic is wearing off, right outside his window. The E is burnt out, and the T sizzles when it rains, just like Hot l Baltimore.
- In Joan Hess's Maggody mystery novels, the neon sign for Ruby Bee's Flamingo Motel is frequently described as having letters from its "VACANCY" notice burnt out. In addition, its pink neon flamingo regularly loses feathers when they burn out, making it look like it's molting.
- Done in the Moonlighting episode "The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice." David is in such a hotel, playing his trumpet, with the "HOTEL" sign flashing in the background. As the angle changes, it just flashes "HOT". See it here, at about 7:24.
- In ITV's 2006 Production of Agatha Christie's The Moving Finger (starring Geraldine McEwan as Miss Marple), the troubled war veteran Jerry Burton is first depicted in a hotel bed with the neon sign's light coming through the window.
- The play Hot L Baltimore is about the Hotel Baltimore. The "e" in the sign is burned out, hence the title.
- Hotel Hell in Duke Nukem 3D
- Aerosmith did a concert tour where the stage was set up as a motel roof — complete with the back of a blinking neon motel sign.
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