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Film / Motel Hell

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It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent fritters.

"Meat's meat and man's gotta eat!"
Farmer Vincent

Motel Hell is a horror comedy film from the year 1980. It was directed by Kevin Connor and stars Rory Calhoun (Night of the Lepus), Nancy Parsons, Nina Axelrod and Paul Linke. John Ratzenberger also appears in a bit part.

The film centers around Motel Hello, which is run by sister and brother duo Vincent and Ida Smith. They have been killing people and turning them into meat pastries to lure in customers, which has been working fine for over three decades. The man-to-food process works thusly: They bury their victims neck-deep into a hidden field, where they are forcefed for a while until they are dug back up and are taken to the Smiths slaughterhouse.

One day, Vincent causes a passing pair riding a motorcycle to crash. As he is taking them back to his farm, he takes a liking to Terry, female passenger of the duo. He fabricates a story that she and Bo, the rider, had an accident and he had to bury the deceased Bo (half of that statement is true) in the graveyard. Having no place to go, Terry decides stay in the farm as she is also starting to fall for her "rescuer". Vincent's little brother, Sheriff Bruce Smith, also falls in love with Terry, thus complicating the matters as the truth about the motel is coming closer and closer to the light.

A remake for the film is in Development Hell, with Arthur C. Miller (Automaton Transfusion) currently attached to do the directing. The movie was also loosely adapted into a 3-issue comic miniseries of the same name by IDW Publishing which released in 2011 as part of their short-lived Midnite Movies label.

This film has the examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Vincent and Ida are surprisingly a very likable pair.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Humorously subverted with Vincent's last words where he is making a confession about his crimes which consist of using preservatives in his meat.
  • American Gothic Couple: Ida and Vincent are depicted like this in the original poster.
  • And I Must Scream: The Smith siblings' "crops" have their throats cut and the wounds sewn shut before being buried from the neck down. They're kept alive and only able to gurgle in place of speech until they're inevitably killed.
  • Bear Trap: Vinent causes the van carrying the rock band Ivan and the Terribles to crash by strategically placing couple of bear traps on the road.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: While excitedly waiting for Vincent and Ida to join their evening of sexual debauchery, Debbie and Guy wonder if the two are into animals.
  • Buried Alive: The Smiths' "crops" manage to escape and wreak their vengeance on Ida, ganging up on her and burying her face down in the "secret garden" they used to be held in.
  • Chainsaw Good: The climax of the film has Bruce arriving to rescue Terry from his brother's smokery, only for Vincent to attack him with a chainsaw, forcing him to grab one of his own to defend himself.
  • Conveyor Belt o' Doom: Terry is tied to a conveyor belt in the climax, and is close being killed by a buzzsaw.
  • Cool Mask: The pig mask that Ida wears to scare away two snooping girls from the smokery. It later reappears worn by Vincent when he engages his kid brother in a chainsaw duel.
  • Covered in Mud: After receiving a call for help from a woman being chased by Vincent on his CB, Sheriff Bruce Smith tries hurry to save her, only for his car to get stuck in a muddy pit. With Terry's help, he manages to free the vehicle from it, with the cost of falling into the mud face-first, and being unable to find the woman he's supposed to help.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Guy and Debbie, who attend the motel to engage in some kinky stuff with the Smiths. They end up being captured and buried in the Smiths' secret garden.
  • Evil Laugh: During the chainsaw duel against his brother, Vincent starts laughing with an evil glee.
  • Everything's Messier with Pigs: Vincent has pig farm alongside with his motel.
  • Force Feeding: Smiths' victims are forcefed to make them fatter for smoking.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Terry, the girl that Vincent falls in love with, along with his younger brother.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Ida has them.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The Smith siblings' "crops" manage to escape and bury Ida headfirst on their field.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Vincent has been making his special meat and has been feeding it to local populace for over 30 years.
  • Instant Sedation: Vincent's sleeping gas and the drink that Ida serves to Terry at one point have this effect.
  • Love Triangle: Vincent falls in love with Terry, as does his younger brother.
  • Make-Out Point: Bruce takes Terry to a popular one, where he puts the sirens on so that the two can watch a movie at a local Drive-In Theater for free with binoculars.
  • May–December Romance: Between Terry and Vincent.
  • Neck Snap: An elaborate one on multiple targets. Since Vincent doesn't want to kill his buried "animals" cruelly, he uses special equipment to hypnotize them while placing nooses around their necks, and when the time is right, he revs up the tractor that the nooses are connected to, and drives forward to break multiple necks at once.
  • No-Tell Motel: Vincent poses his motel as such to ensnare the sexually deviant couple Guy and Debbie.
  • Rescue Romance: Terry starts falling in love with Vincent after he "rescues" her from the motorcycle crash and it later blooms fully after he again "saves" her from drowning (that his sister Ida orchestrated).
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Both "meat's meat and man's gotta eat" and "it takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent fritters" lines, both of which were also used as marketing taglines for the film.
  • The Secret of Long Pork Pies: Farmer Vincent makes delicious smoked meat. Out of people.
    Vincent: There's too many people in the world and not enough food. Now this takes care of both problems at the same time.
  • The Sheriff: Bruce, Vincent's kid-brother.
  • Shoot Out the Lock: Bruce shoots the lock to his brother Vincent's smokery to enter inside to rescue Terry.
  • Shovel Strike: After Bob the health inspector discovers the Smiths' secret garden, he is knocked out by Vincent with a shovel.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Vincent and Bruce start feuding when they both fall in love with Terry.
  • Signs of Disrepair: Forms the film's title, as the "o" in "Motel Hello" keeps flickering.
  • Skewed Priorities: Vincent killed people and processed them into food. Upon his death, he is mostly concerned about how he lied about using preservatives on his meat products.
  • The Speechless: Smiths' victims, who can only make unintelligible gurgling due to Ida's surgery on them to remove their vocal cords.
  • Spiteful Spit: Upon being confronted by the truth about Vincent's meat products, Terry spits on him when told to look at him.
  • Still Sucks Thumb: Before going out hunting in the opening, Vincent checks on his sister Ida, who is shown sucking her thumb while sleeping.
  • Super Window Jump: Bo, Terry's boyfriend who just has managed to free himself and others from Smiths' secret garden enters the smokery to rescue her by crashing through a window.
  • Unabashed B-Movie Fan: Terry and Bruce go to watch The Monster That Challenged the World, which is playing at the drive-in.