Ah, what can we say about Motel Hell that hasn't been said a million times by a million other blood-fiends? Probably not much but that hasn't stopped me so far. Released in 1980, Motel Hell kicked off the decade with a wicked bang. Like that of a beartrap, bursting a tire. But before we get ahead of ourselves, a little synopsis for the uninitiated.
"Sometimes I wonder about the karmic implications of these actions." Right you should, Farmer Vincent. It seems Farmer Vincent Smith (Rory Calhoun) is famous in local parts for his fine smoked meats made from the best select cuts he can find. And where does he find them? Why, they're just victims of the highway accidents he causes nightly.
Vincent and his sister Ida (Nancy Parsons) are rural psychopath cannibals in the time-hallowed tradition of B-cinema. But Vincent isn't all kill-crazy entrepeneur. In fact, as the movie opens, he finds a warm spot for Terry (Nina Axelrod), his latest victim. Dazed by the "accident", Terry is taken in by Vincent and Ida. As time passes, she finds herself attracted to Vincent's gentle charm.
Of course, she hasn't seen Vincent's "secret garden". In order to prepare his "animals" (read "captives") for slaughter, Vincent slices their vocal cords and buries them in the ground up to their necks! Look for John Rattzeberger as one of Vincent's cutlets-to-be. Wolfman Jack also has a too brief role, mostly wasted, as a greedy, horny televangelist.
Motel Hell's heart is in the right place but I can't recommend it too highly. A semi-spoof of slashers, the gore quotient is actually pretty low. There are a few nude scenes but are pretty quickly gone. The humor strikes the right chord but is aimed specifically at horror fans. Viewers without an appreciation of B-cinema will probably miss the point entirely.
Still, Motel Hell is definitely worth dragging out and dusting off on occasion. Toolshed verdict? 6 1/2 meat-cleavers, dripping Vincent's "secret spices"!