I had picked up a copy of this film for my birthday simply because the cover looked cool. My oh my…
Motel Hell is a story of a motel owner who has a deadly secret. And as much as this sounds like spoiler territory, it’s really not, because the fun to be had in this film is through the act of watching it rather than in the reveals. Now, I had initially thought this would be a typical hotel-owner-serves-people-for-food film, but it’s not at all. Instead, the owner buries kidnapped patrons and bypassers up their necks in his garden behind the building. They are surgically modified so they cannot scream for help, and all they can really do is a combination of a grunt and a moan. Him and his wife then grow them before they decide to turn them into jerky.
It’s whacky and macabre, but it’s also a lot of fun. It’s a film that just lives and breathes the ‘80s aesthetic. This is one that had never caught my radar until I saw a copy for sale at Scream! Factory.
It sounds like a rather simple idea and it plays out like one with very few secrets hiding around the corners, but it’s a good one. There’s certainly worse ‘80s horror everywhere, but this one holds up 40 years later simply because it isn’t trying to be anything it’s not. We don’t have an emphasis on the murders or the serial slashing, but we do get a highlight on the lifestyle of two batshit-crazy innkeepers who take pride in their work. And we in turn get a weird showdown of whether or not we should be rooting for the victims or the killers – and it’s easy to place an argument for either side.
'Til Next Time, Mike Cleopatra