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on 4 October 2013
I was a teenager when this first came out and was featured in many a Starbust and Fangoria magazine. It was even parodied in MAD magazine (assuming anyone in UK has heard of that). It's a film I've wanted to see ever since but also with some trepidation.

Liking my films to have a reasonably good sheen on them and clear soundtrack one of the reasons I held out so long was the fear that this would be lost in the 80's haze of vhs quality film making. Also a lots of 70's and 80's films end up being so dated that I have them on my shelf purely for numbers and would be the first to go in any future blu ray culls.

I was waiting and waiting for MOTEL HELL to turn up on the horror channel so I could see it FOC. The reviews on Amazon. although detailed, didn't help. After all you have to like this type of movie in the first place and you are unlikely to be swayed if you don't.

However, i have it now and on the whole I enjoyed it.

The anti heroes are introduced in the first act and it's refresheing to see a story from their point of view. The acting is impressive for the most part (Nina Axelrod, the blonde actress excluded), The picture is impressive as is the soundtrack which gives the early part of the story much gravitas. It started of quite creepy and could possibly have trhown in a few more scares.

It was a smorgasboard (sorry) of familiar faces although Paul Link (from Chips fame) maybe became a bit too caricature.

Black comedies are rarely laugh out loud but I found I did snigger a bit. The only downside was I did find myself constantly asking myself "did I really like this film" rather than just enjoy it. I may have to watch it again soon. Second times usually are better.

The chainsaw standoff was a little disappointing however but that could have probably been improved with some added sound effects and dramatic music to build the tension.

The extra features are excellent, informative and funny.

At the end of the day, I'm glad I have this in the collection
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on 15 September 2013
"Motel Hell" is an odd-bird - it's construction leaves the film with a very slow deliberate pace to begin with, punctuated by slow, niche humour, which changes rather abruptly to a faster paced, broader humour as the film goes on. After the very creepy opening credits (with a wonderful and scary piano-based score), the film lags a bit for me (though you gotta love the bit where the bus driver says "let's find a place to crash for the night!" right before...) until about halfway through, when the film picks up and leaves you giggling. The ending is probably the highlight of the whole thing, and it's easy to see the influence this had on Tobe Hooper, who worked on but left the project, when he made Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2. It belongs in the company of TCM 2, and Slaughterhouse - weird, vegetarian (usually) cannibal comedy - and it continues the conceit of Red Dragon (2003 film not book), TCM 2, Soylent Green, Red Dwarf episode "Tikka to Ride"...of showing the strange idea (which makes little sense but is very funny) that if you ate human flesh, without knowing what it was, you'd LOVE it. I have no idea where this notion came from, but it's a good one. The film's sense of humour and knowing absurdity is to be cherished - I'm sure the idea started from the title and lead naturally to the TCM/Psycho parody of a plot. I also love the closing lines about "Motel Hell" - "We should burn it down. It's an evil motel." Deadpan to it's core, Motel Hell is a classic of it's type.

Previously I owned this on MGM's MIDNITE MOVIES double feature disc (Deranged & Motel Hell [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]) from the US - a decent widescreen DVD and pared with a pretty similar, Ed Gein derived, movie named Deranged [Blu-ray], it was a solid release on the format. Once I bought Arrow's excellent DERANGED blu-ray/dvd combo, I knew it was a matter of time before I'd buy Arrow's Blu-ray of this too. What's to say? Well first of all, I love Arrow's new cover - it's really attractive and might well attract new customers to the film, but because Arrow are classy, they also included the original poster art (which I have variations of on t-shirts and enjoy a lot) which will usually be my preference. The booklet has yet a third piece of art, which would also have made a wonderful cover. The DVD and Blu-ray have matching Vincent and Ida covers too - a nice piece of continuity which made the package attractive. The film, yes, is uncut - I believe once the BBFC cleared the film, it's always been uncut, but I wanted to make sure to mention it. Visually, the film looks fantastic - there is grain but nothing like MGM's TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE PART 2 blu-ray disc (which I hope Arrow will improve on) - it's never distracting, even in the darkest of night scenes. The daylight scenes are gorgeous, especially the lake during the tubing scene. Detail and depth are fantastic.

Audio is stereo (which is all it's ever had), but thankfully in lossless PCM 2.0. Unlike Dolby Digital lossless tracks, my 5.1 can use that Pro Logic II thing and make a surround sound thing out of PCM tracks, giving me a nice surround sound effect with the music and atmospherics without shoving the dialogue and sound-effects to the rears too. The sound was powerful and the score, while dated, is a lot better than you'd expect for this kind of thing. Detail in the sound was ever-present and I was thankful that the small hiss level was retained - people often take manufacturers to task for noise reduction on video, but not so much on soundtracks, when just as on video signals it does remove detail piece by piece. I'd say this was an accurate presentation of the film, but it's probably never looked this good in any format before, even theatrically.

Extras include a commentary by the (British) director Kevin Connor, a piece celebrating the film with Dave Parker (The Dead Hate the Living, The Hills Run Red), a piece about Ida and women in horror with lady critics and theorists (too lazy to list the names!) and retrospective interviews with both Paul Linke (ostensibly the hero of the film) and Roseanne Katon who had the most interesting perspective on the whole thing. All the featurettes are short, so they don't wear out their welcome at all.

In regards to home-video releases, I never say "never" in regards to improvements - I've been surprised so many times before. But I can safely say, I will never need another version of Motel Hell on blu-ray. The video, audio and extras, at a great price, ensure I am 100% satisfied with the Arrow disc. Thanks again :D
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on 31 January 2010
This is a very dark comedy spiced up with loads of humor. I watched this as a young teen who loved horror, and had nightmares for ages.

The gargling sounds from the poor folk who were "planted" in the ground and then had their vocal chords severed, is a sound that's haunted me for the past thirty years.

The movie scared the hell out of me yet I've always been creepily drawn to it. I finally got my hands on it recently. It's still just as scary but I appreciate the comedy and the satire now.

For what it is, I think it's pretty damned good and worth a watch if you can appreciate a truly dark COMEDY.
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on 16 July 2013
Filled with extras and a great HD transfer.

The humor is of the dark variety here so don't be expecting a spoof,giving it a strange atmosphere throughout.
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on 25 July 2013
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on 16 May 2015
All I can say is WOW! what a Mad plot for a film.A quiet,some might say very likeable Farmer and His Wife run the local Motel and as well as milking the Cows and looking after their Guests they also make delicious smoked Meat products,and that's all i'm going to say.This is a well made,well acted,particularly by Calhoun,genuinely Disturbing Old School Horror Flick that any true Fan needs to own.
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on 20 August 2002
Motel Hell is one of the many 'Texas Chain Saw' clones which hit the screens during the late '70's and early eighties.
Central premise has farmer Colhquon planting his motel guests up to their necks,cutting out their vocal chords,slaughtering them and smoking their flesh which is then sold as barbecued meat.
This effort is slightly above other cheaply made 'Texas' clones,and can't quite decide whether it wants to be taken seriously,or as a black comedy.The final chainsaw duel is worthy of note with the demented farmer (wearing a pigs head) and
the local sheriff going at it.Painfully slow in places,the appearance of Nina Axlerod taking a bath does somewhat bring the interest up a notch,but she obviously wasn't hired for her thespian skills.
While this has some flavour,it sure could use a lot more spice!!!
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on 8 October 2015
This movie really took me by surprise, I wasn't expecting it to be as good as it is, but it's great, crazy, but great. Another fantastic release from arrow, great transfer and loads of extras. If you like odd ball horrors with odd ball characters then this is the movie for you.
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"It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent fritters," was the tagline for the 1980 splatter flick "Motel Hell" that has a peculiar niche in the blood soaked history of that particular genre. No other comparable film intentionally makes you groan as much as this story of Vincent Smith (Rory Calhoun) and his sister Ida (Nancy Parsons) who run a cheap motel and a profitable smoked meat business that has earned a reputation because of its secret ingredient. Take a wild guess what it might be, especially when a lot of people seem to missing once they check into the hotel (real name is Motel Hello, but the "o" in the neon sign is broken). However, your jaw will drop when you find out what this crazy couple have planted in the garden out back of the motel.
Compare this to the rest of the horror flicks put out that year ("Friday the 13th," "Humanoids from the Deep," "Maniac," and "Prom") and you can see why "Motel Hell" has a singular reputation. The only film that was close was "Mother's Day," and it is really not that close when it comes to getting you to laugh, groan, and shake your head in dumb wonder. Calhoun and Parsons milk their cannibalistic crazies for everything they are worth and this movie actually suffers when they are not on screen and we are left with the various walking slabs of meat on the menu, the beautiful less than brilliant blonde in danger (future casting director Nina Axelrod) and the loony and love-sick local cop (Paul Linke) who has not been able to connect the dots for the 30 years Farmer Vincent has been in business. However, Wolfman Jack is around for the fun as well, and that counts for something.
The ending of "Motel Hell" is a mixed bag, although applying standards of logic to any splatter flick, let alone this one, is always going to be problematic. But when the aforementioned young blonde actually falls for Vincent we are back to jaw dropping territory. Then we remember that this entire film is filled with scenes jumping off the deep end. Director Kevin Connor lucked out with the casting, because veteran character actor Calhoun makes this film work, both when he is being charming and when he goes crazy. He also gets off some choice one liners, including his last words, which prove once and for all that this film is a tongue in cheek splatter flick that mixes the camp and gory in equal measure. Like Farmer Vincent's smoked meats, "Motel Hell" is not going to be to everyone's tastes, but I happy to like a movie where they intend for you to laugh and groan your way through the festivities.
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on 15 April 2015
Not quite as funny as I remember but still very entertaining
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