Motel Hell is one of the best guilty pleasure movies ever made. The plot fits in the wheelbarrow piece from Monopoly, and the cast all seem to be smiling underneath their acting.
Operating the roadside Motel Hello, with the obligatory burned out “o”, Farmer Vincent (Calhoun) and his sister, Ida (Porky’s famous gym coach, Parsons) are best known for their sausages. As Vincent puts it, “It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent’s Fritters”, which predictably means humans.
Vincent sets traps for ill-fated travelers, rescues the bodies from the crashed cars, motorcycles, vans, etc, and then plants them up to their necks in a secret garden to tenderize them. Then, comically enough, he makes them stare at a hypnotic pattern, and snaps their necks with a tractor. It’s the kind of thing that makes you wish you were enjoying the great acid trips of the 70’s along with the screen writers.
Vincent inevitably falls in love with a young woman , Terri (Axelrod) caught in one of his traps. She also catches the eye of the local sheriff, Vincent’s brother Bruce (Linke) who helps uncover the secret of Farmer Vincent’s tasty fritters and eventually a face-to-face battle of comical good and evil ensues.
Motel Hell is a great drive-in movie. It’s one of those odd things that crosses generations. I watched it in a buddy’s basement as a joke, and my dad watched it on Friday nights at a drive-in. Among the trivia facts causing the movie to remain in several folks’ conversations is a cameo appearance by John Ratzenberger. Best known as know-it-all Cliffy from Cheers, Ratzenberger plays the drummer of a band (Ivan and the Terribles) that falls into one of Vincent’s traps.
Vincent’s farm includes a slaughterhouse, so there’s some obligatory involvement of chainsaws and someone wearing a pig’s head. They even sneak in a playmate with a whip and a Sonny Bono look-a-like, and Wolfman Jack AS A PREACHER. Once you’re in the know, the picnic scene is particularly humorous. You know what; it’s just bizarre enough you should see it for yourself.
Motel Hell was released as part of a double feature DVD with the 1974 MGM release, Deranged.