Blu-ray Review: Motel Hell (Collector’s Edition)

A catchy title will always keep a horror film popular. Think of how many people are familiar with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Psycho. Those are titles that pop when placed on the videostore shelves. Motel Hell is a film that has gained a following based on a title that screams, “Rent Me!” Although in the case of Motel Hell: Collector’s Edition, you’ll want to buy it. Like The Texas Chainsaw massacre and Psycho, Motel Hell draws its inspiration from Wisconsin’s Ed Gein. The movie combines the motel with homemade meat with a special ingredient.

The Motel Hello stands a tribute to the hospitality of Farmer Vincent (Angel‘s Rory Calhoun). He and his sister Ida (Porky’s Nancy Parsons) has a quaint operation for wayward travelers. They also make their own special brand of smoked meats that feature his name and likeness. He’s a regular Jimmy Dean. One dark night, Farmer Vincent comes across a motorcycle accident. He bring back the wounded Nina Axelrod (Roller Boogie) to a room to be nursed back to health. The farmer has to give her the sad news that her boyfriend died and was buried. She becomes fond of her healing host. A romance blossoms between them. But does she really know the secrets of Farmer Vincent? Turns out that there are a lot of road accidents near the motel. Turns out this isn’t a coincidence. Farmer Vincent puts various traps on the road to take out cars, motorcycles and vans. Is he doing this to drum up business for the motel? People who have to wait all night for a mechanic to fix their cars? Nope. Turns out that deep in barn he raises his secret ingredient that makes his meat so tasty. The slogan is “It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent’s fritters.” But there’s only one meat in them: human. He and Ida have a special process to get their people tasting just right. There’s no need to spoil the big effect.

The film features a special victim with John Ratzenberger (Cheers) ending up in the barn. Wolfman Jack pops up as a televangelist begging for money. Motel Hell is properly bizarre with characters and situation. Calhoun plays off his cowboy persona when he pours on the charm. How could Nina resist him? You can imagine people thinking he’s really serving up pork in that sweet sausage. Nancy Parsons is so sweet even when she’s doing twisted things. The movie has plenty to delight those who picked it up because of the catchy title. You might not want to check out before 10 a.m.

The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The high resolution transfer makes Jessica Harper glow on the screen. The audio is DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo. You’ll want to take in the joy of Wolfman Jack’s voice in stereo. The movie is subtitled.

Audio Commentary has director Kevin Connor chatting with Dave Parker (director of The Hills Run Red). He got the gig since the producers loved his work in England.

It Takes All Kinds: The Making of Motel Hell (24:32) interviews Robert Jaffe and Steve-Charles Jaffe discuss how they came up with the concept and made it happen.

Shooting Old School (15:45) spends time with cinematographer Thomas Del Ruth. He had a rough time during production when his wife died (not on the set).

Another Head on the Chopping Block: Interview with star Paul Linke (14:51) talks about toning down the comedy.

Ida, Be Thy Name: A look back at Motel Hell’s Frightful Female Protagonist Ida Smith (18:08) pays tribute to the actress.

From Glamour to Gore: Rosanne Katon Remembers Motel Hell (11:28) interviews the prostitute victim Katon modeled for Playboy.

Theatrical trailer
will make you hungry.

Galleries of behind the scenes photos, posters and production stills.

Motel Hell is a grizzly tale of down home hospitality. The film works because Rory Calhoun is just so wonderful as a farmer who just wants to serve people.

Scream Factory presents Motel Hell: Collector’s Edition. Directed by Kevin Conner. Screenplay by: Robert Jaffe and Steve-Charles Jaffe. Starring: Rory Calhoun, Nancy Parson and Nina Axelrod. Rated: R. Running Time: 101 minutes. Boxset Contents: 1 Blu-ray & 1 DVD. Released: August 12, 2014.

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