On the surface, Motel Hell is exactly what it seems to be – an amalgam of earlier slasher flicks; The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Last House on the Left, etc. – but as you watch, there are moments that are just so strange that they defy explanation.
It’s obvious from the start that Farmer Vincent and his sister Ida (Balbricker the penis puller from Porky’s!) are up to no good. Adding unsuspecting travellers to their smoked meats is the least of the weirdness. Why the hell do they keep their victims alive, buried in the garden up to their necks? What if it rains? And what’s with cutting the vocal cords? Wouldn’t it be easier to cut out their tongues?
Farmer Vincent does come across some interesting victims…my personal favorite is a band called Ivan and the Terribles, a middle aged Heavy Metal band. Their song sounds suspiciously like a ripoff of Stranglehold by Ted Nugent and for that, they must die. That and the fact that their drummer is Cliff from Cheers. I was left rather confused by the way that Farmer Vincent finally dispatches the band. He rigs up some trippy flashing lights and hypnotizes them, entreating them to attempt astral projection to visit other planets. He then takes off in his tractor, strategically placed nooses breaking their necks. I promise, I’m not making this up.
Wolfman Jack makes a cameo as a Hustler-reading televangelist (actually, most of the people in this movie read Hustler – it’s a fine magazine.) I have a soft spot for movies with Wolfman Jack cameos – The Midnight Hour, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and now, Motel Hell. I’m a sick individual, I admit it.
The final confrontation is utterly confusing. The idea of a chain saw duel is pretty cool, but why the fuck is Farmer Vincent wearing that pig head? It’s like Leatherface…Porkerface? Either way, the film ends with the inevitable triumph of ‘good’ over ‘evil’ – and definitely make sure and take note of Farmer Vincent’s shocking confession – another truly WTF? moment.