Thursday, May 15, 2014

Motel Hell (1980, USA)

Directed by: Kevin Connor
Produced by: Robert Jaffe, Steven-Charles Jaffe
Written by: Robert Jaffe, Steven-Charles Jaffe, Tim Tuchrello (uncredited)
Starring: Rory Calhoun, Paul Linke, Nancy Parsons, Nina Axelrod, Wolfman Jack
Music by: Lance Rubin
Cinematography: Thomas Del Ruth
Editing by: Bernard Gribble
Distributed by: United Artists
Release dates: October 18, 1980
Running time: 102 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $3,000,000 (estimated)
Box office: $6,342,668
Plot: Farmer Vincent kidnaps unsuspecting travelers and is burying them in his garden. Unfortunately for his victims, they are not dead. He feeds his victims to prepare them for his roadside stand. His motto is: It takes all kinds of critters...to make Farmer Vincent's fritters. The movie is gory, but is also a parody of slasher movies like Last House on the Left.

Info: Motel Hell is a 1980 horror comedy film directed by Kevin Connor and starring Rory Calhoun as farmer, butcher, and meat entrepreneur Vincent Smith. It is often seen as a satire of modern horror films such as Psycho and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Because of its low budget nature, the original intent was to make a serious horror film, with moments of disturbing wit and irony.

The movie was filmed at the famous Sable Ranch in Santa Clarita, California with the white brick stable building as the backdrop to the motel and farm. The building and Sable Ranch locations were used in the filming of hundreds of both Hollywood and independent movies and TV shows for over 60 years. Interiors of the motel, farm, and smokehouse were filmed at the Laird International Studios in Culver City, California.

Releases: In 2002, MGM released Motel Hell as part of its "Midnite Movies" collection of double feature DVDs. It was released along with the 1974 feature film Deranged. In 2008, a remake of Motel Hell was in talks, potentially directed by Steven C. Miller of Automaton Transfusion fame. On August 12, 2014, a Collector's Edition Blu-ray will be released by Scream Factory.



Motel Hell original 1980 trailer.

Film Facts: Universal Studios was originally approached with the film, but the studio disliked the film's bizarre nature so it was rejected. United Artists ultimately picked it up for release.

Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) was originally going to direct this movie for Universal Studios, but when the studio balked at the bizarre project, Hooper also departed. Too bizarre for Tobe Hooper? Hmmm...

The chainsaws images were inspired by The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974).

Because of just the one chainsaw story element, the picture was likened and compared with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974).

The dueling chainsaws was an idea which was conceived during late in production and was not in the original movie script.


Motel Hell art by Zach Howard, color by Dan Panosian.

The screenplay for this film was written years before it went into production. The film had a difficult time finding backing. In 1978 it was picked up by the Camp Hill Company and was shot and completed in 1980. In all, it was nearly three years from the time the script was written to the final release of the film.

The movie's original screenplay was originally a darker more disturbing piece with bestiality, a lot more violence and was not a black comedy.

Actor 'Paul Linke' lost 25 pounds to play the lead. He was carrying the extra weight to play Grossman on CHiPs (1977).

The movie was notable for its title's play on words of the traditional "Motel Hello" sign. In the film and its promotional materials, a red neon lit "Motel Hello" sign is seen, then having the letter "O" flicker and fade-out, to form the film's horror genre "Motel Hell" title.

Publicity for this picture stated that it was the first major role in a motion picture in quite a while for lead actor Rory Calhoun. Calhoun was around fifty-seven years old when he starred in this movie.


A distinctive and famous production still from the film, an image of a bloodied pig-headed character with a chainsaw, made the cover of "Fangoria" magazine.

Whilst applying for the job as director, Kevin Connor showed the Jaffe Brothers his first film, the horror movie From Beyond the Grave (1974), and after this got to see the script for "Motel Hell".

The movie launched stateside in October 1980 just four months after the famed Broadway season of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) had finished in New York.

The ranch house of the Sable Ranch in Santa Clarita, California acted as the Motel Office whilst a nearby stables doubled for the Motel itself.


Motel Hell "Vincent" action figure by Retroband.

In 2007 & 2008 interviews, director Kevin Connor once explained his involvement on this movie: "In March 1980. I'd been in Los Angeles for three months and was getting nowhere when I decided to collect some tapes from an agent, Bobby Litman. As I walked in to the agency, he came out of his office to refill his coffee mug and saw me. He asked me how I was getting on. "Not so good," I replied. "Come into the office and I'll get you a job," he said. He called another agent who just happened to have had an enquiry for a young director to helm a horror movie. This was Motel Hell!...I told the Jaffe Brothers that I would love to direct the movie as long as it was a black comedy and removing all the unnecessary crudeness. They agreed and that is the movie that you see today... I thoroughly enjoyed it because it was tongue in cheek but you have to play these scenes, and if you notice you never see any gratuitous violence...The black humor appealed to me and it wasn't in response to any other movie trend...Very pleasant shoot. Nancy Parsons and Rory Calhoun were a delight, as were the rest of the cast and crew. The most challenging thing was probably the dueling chainsaws, the idea for which came up at the last moment. This may have been the greatest victory too...Rory and Nancy were naturals. They loved each other and they certainly didn't have to work at it".

 
Shout Factory shared the art for their the summer release of Kevin Connor’s 1980 Motel Hell on Blu-ray. Motel Hell will be getting the “Collector’s Edition” treatment with slipcover and the newly-designed artwork by Nathan Thomas Milliner. In the film, “Farmer Vincent kidnaps unsuspecting travelers and is burying them in his garden. Unfortunately for his victims, they are not dead. He feeds his victims to prepare them for his roadside stand. His motto is: It takes all kinds of critters…to make Farmer Vincent's fritters.” Full specs and release details forthcoming. Release Date:  08/12/2014
 
When Sheriff Smith asks Terri to the movies he says it is Monster _That Challenged the World, The (1957)_. Not only is this a real movie, but the scenes shown were actually from it.

Debut cinema movie as a D.O.P. for cinematographer Thomas Del Ruth.


Playboy Playmate Monique St. Pierre has a cameo. The Playboy Playmate as Debbie. When Monique St. Pierre appeared in this movie she had just been the current Playboy Playmate of the Year (1978).

Playboy Playmate Rosanne Katon also has a cameo. The Playmate of the Month as Suzi.

The slogan on the banner for Farmer Vincent's Smoked Meats read "This is it!"

The films opening title image is the neon "Motel Hello" sign with the "O" burned out. During the closing credits the entire sign is shown burning out and finally exploding after the credits end.


The MGM Midnite Movies Double Feature DVDs are becoming RARE and OOP (out of print). Get the Motel Hell / Deranged Double Feature DVD while it's still IN STOCK.

Amazon: Motel Hell / Deranged (Midnite Movies Double Feature) - $10.06 (DVD)
Amazon: Motel Hell (Shout! / Scream Factory) - $26.83 (BLU-RAY)

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