Tag Archives: Motel Hell

Fright Club: Food in Horror Movies

There is a lot about eating in horror movies. Sometimes it’s a single meal (Ray Liotta’s brain, for example), other times it’s a pervasive theme to the entire movie, as in Troll 2 or The Stuff.

We’re focused on the bigger theme here, which is a bit of a shame because spending some time talking about that spaghetti scene in Se7en, or the finger in the french fries in The Hitcher, or that tasty Texas barbeque in Texas Chainsaw Massacre would have been fun. Don’t even get us started on Oldboy and the octopus!

5. Motel Hell (1980)

It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent’s fritters!

Farmer Vincent (Fifties heartthrob Rory Calhoun) makes the county’s tastiest sausage and runs the Motel Hello as well. Now if swingers keep disappearing from the motel, and mysterious, bubbly moans echo around the farm, that does not necessarily mean anything is amiss.

Farmer Vincent, along with his sister Ida (a super creepy Nancy Parsons) rids the world of human filth while serving the righteous some tasty vittles. Just don’t look under those wiggling, gurgling sacks out behind the butcherin’ barn!

Motel Hell is a deeply disturbed, inspired little low budget jewel. A dark comedy, the film nonetheless offers some unsettling images, not to mention sounds. Sure, less admiring eyes may see only that super-cheese director Kevin Connor teamed up with Parsons and Calhoun – as well as Elaine Joyce and John Ratzenberger – for a quick buck. But in reality, they teamed up to create one of the best bad horror films ever made.

So gloriously bad!

4. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

Here’s a bizarre idea for a musical: The barber upstairs kills his clients and the baker downstairs uses the bodies in her meat pies. Odd for a Broadway musical, yes, but for a Tim Burton film? That sounds a little more natural.

Burton’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a full-on musical – Burton’s first – and every inch a stage play reproduction. For many films, this would be a criticism, but Burton’s knack for dark artificiality serves the project beautifully, and he achieves the perfect Dickensian Goth tone. His production is very stagy and theatrical but never veers from his distinct, ghoulish visual flair.

As in most of Burton’s best efforts, Sweeney Todd stars Johnny Depp in the title role. Depp is unmistakably fantastic – consumed, morose, twisted with vengeance – and he’s in fine voice, to boot.

With Burton’s help, Depp found another dark, bizarre anti-hero to showcase his considerable talent. With Depp’s help, Burton gorgeously, grotesquely realized another macabre fantasy.

3. The Bad Batch (2016)

Ana Lily Amirpour follows themes that fascinated her with her feature debut A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, this time setting those preoccupations in a wasteland of conformity, survival and food.

The Bridge People are hyper-bulked up, ultra-tanned cannibals represented by Miami Man (Jason Momoa). They may not have access to steroids, but they’re certainly getting a lot of protein. The second community of Comfort offers a colorful, almost habitable environment led by charismatic leader The Dream (Keanu Reeves).

One version of America sees the vain, self-centered “winners” literally feeding on the weak. The second may seem more accepting, but it pushes religion, drugs and other “comforts” to encourage passivity.

Amirpour has such a facility with creating mood and environment, and though the approach here is different than with her debut, she once again loads the soundtrack and screen with inspired images, sounds and idiosyncrasies.

2. The Greasy Strangler (2016)

Like the by-product of a high cholesterol diet, The Greasy Strangler will lodge itself into your brain and do a lot of damage.

A touching father/son story about romance, car washes and disco, this movie is like little else ever set to film, showcasing unholy familial unions, men in their underwear, and merkins. (Look it up.)

Brayden (Sky Elobar) and his dad Big Ronnie (Michael St. Michaels – that is a name!) share the family business: LA walking tours of disco landmarks. They live together, work together, eat together.

Father and son possess a seriously unusual family dynamic that seems to work for them until they meet Janet (Elizabeth De Razzo – brave and funny). Both men fall for this “rootie tootie disco cutie,” and if that wasn’t enough, there’s a marauder on the loose – an inhuman beast covered head to toe in cooking grease.

The result is ingenious. Or repellant. Or maybe hilarious – it just depends on your tolerance for WTF horror and sick, sick shit. Whatever else it may be, though, The Greasy Strangler is – I promise you – hard to forget.


1. Dumplings (2004)

Fruit Chan’s Dumplings satirizes the global obsession with youth and beauty in taboo-shattering ways.

Gorgeous if off-putting Aunt Mei (Bai Ling) balances her time between performing black market medical functions and selling youth-rejuvenating dumplings. She’s found a customer for the dumplings in Mrs. Li (Miriam Yeung ChinWah), the discarded wife of a wealthy man.

With darkest humor and sharp insight, Chan situates the horror in a specifically Chinese history but skewers a youth-obsessed culture that circles the globe.

The secret ingredient is Bai Ling, whose performance is a sly work of genius. There are layers to this character that are only slowly revealed, but Ling clearly knows them inside and out, hinting at them all the while and flatly surprised at everything Mrs. Li (and you and everyone else) hasn’t guessed.

Gross and intimate, uncomfortable and wise, mean, well-acted and really nicely photographed, Dumplings will likely not be for everyone. But it’s certainly a change of pace from your day-to-day horror diet.

Fright Club: So Bad it’s …. Good?

Here’s an unusual list, not because it’s out of the ordinary to ironically appreciate bad horror movies, but because Madd and Wolf disagree so vehemently about a) the movies on this list, and b) the entertainment value in bad movies. So just know that, though there are bones of contention aplenty, we’re still happy with the final six. How about you?

6. House (Hausu) (1977)

If Takashi Miike’s Happiness of the Katakuris were to marry Pee-wee’s Playhouse, this would be their offspring.

A spoof of sorts, Hausu tells the story of six uniform-clad high school girls named Gorgeous, Fantasy, Sweet, Melody, Kung Fu, and Mac. The nomenclature alone should clue you in on the film’s lunacy. The giggling sextet spend spring break at an aunt’s spooky house – or, in fact, a cheaply made set of an aunt’s spooky house. Not a single thing that follows makes sense, nor is it really meant to.

Expect puppets, random musical sequences, remarkably bad backdrops, slapstick humor, and an amazingly sunny disposition given the sheer volume of human dismemberment. The trippy nonsense wears a bit thin eventually. Luckily director Nobuhiko Obayashi’s film clocks in at under 90 minutes, so the screen goes dark before the novelty wears off.

Score: Hope does not consider this a bad movie in any respect. George considers it so bad it’s just bad.

5. Motel Hell (1980)

It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent’s fritters, so swingers looking for a cheap motel in which to swing – be warned! Fifties heartthrob Rory Calhoun plays Farmer Vincent, who, along with his sister Ida (a super creepy Nancy Parsons) rid the world of human filth while serving the righteous some tasty viddles. Just don’t look under those wiggling, gurgling sacks out behind the butcherin’ barn!

Motel Hell is a deeply disturbed, inspired little low budget jewel. A dark comedy, the film nonetheless offers some unsettling images, not to mention sounds. Sure, less admiring eyes may see only that super-cheese director Kevin Connor teamed up with Parsons and Calhoun – as well as Elaine Joyce and John Ratzenberger – for a quick buck. But in reality, they teamed up to create one of the best bad horror films ever made.

So gloriously bad!

Score: Hope and George agree completely on the absolutely entertaining badness afoot in this one.

4. Sleepaway Camp (1983)

A seriously subversive film with blatant homosexual undertones, Sleepaway Camp is a bizarre take on the summer camp slasher.

It may be the shocking finale that gave the film its cult status, but it’s writer/director Robert Hilzik’s off-center approach to horror that makes it interesting. Dreamy flashbacks, weirdly gruesome murders, and a creepy (yet somehow refreshing) preoccupation with beefcake separate this one from the pack.

It’s not scary, certainly, but it is all manner of wrong. The kill sequences are hugely imaginative, and the subversive approach to the entire film makes it hard to believe more people haven’t seen this gem.

Score: Once again, George and Hope are in total agreement. This one’s a keeper.

3. Squirm (1976)

Writer/director Jeff Lieberman drops us off in rural Georgia, where small town hottie Geri (unrepentant ginger Patricia Pearcy) receives a visit from big city pal and possible boyfriend Mick (Don Scardino). Natch, the down home folk don’t take kindly to this city slicker – especially Roger, a menacing rube who wants Geri for his own.

So, the low budget gem creates a little of that Deliverance dread, but the payoff is, of course, the worms brought out by the pantload via voltage from a downed power line.

Lieberman does a fantastic job with the worms. They are everywhere, they’re nasty, they make that gross gummy noise as they squirm around on top of each other, and they may not only eat you but bore right into your face to turn you into a monster. That’s what happens to poor, lovelorn Rog, and it is awesome!

The acting and writing entertain, if ironically, but the movie offers a few real freakout moments and it goes in unexpected directions more than once. It’s weird, start to finish, and that’s always welcome.

Score: George does not care for Squirm, ironically or otherwise. Hope’s still smiling with joy just thinking about this movie.

2. Slugs: The Movie (1988)

Mike Brady (Michael Garfield) must save himself, his town, and his lustrous waves from the menace of man-eating slugs– acting ability or no! And if Sherriff Reese and Mayor Eaton can’t get their heads out of their asses, then dammit, Mike Brady will take care of this himself!

Once it’s discovered that the entire population of mutant slugs is in a single area, Mike Brady makes the level-headed, finely coiffured decision to literally explode the entire town from beneath. Why not dose their hive with salt, you ask? What are you, a wuss?!

But that’s beside the point because Mike Brady has a town to save! He’s getting scant help from the Brit chem teacher who can’t even lift a manhole cover. Weak limey! Do Mike Brady and his hair have to do everything?

The epic saga finishes with a hearty embrace. Mike Brady squeezes his puffy-coat wearing wife, and we all ignore the untold damage he’s just done to the town he singlehandedly blew to pieces. People were killed, certainly. Perhaps an arrest was more in order than a hug. But Mike Brady doesn’t do arrested.

Score: George really hates this movie and considers it an almost criminal waste of his time. Slugs: The Movie fills hope with glee and she’d gladly watch it again right now.

1. The Night of a Thousand Cats (1972)

Oh my God.

This one has to be seen to be believed. It moves at a dreamlike pace, as chopper pilot/monk/playboy/cat lover Hugo (Hugo Stiglitz!) flies his helicopter menacingly close to sexy women lounging poolside, and they act like that’s not weird at all. He mouths flirtations toward them as their towels and lawn furniture blow hither and yon. Eventually they find this dangerous harassment charming enough to be wooed.

Oh, you trusting, slutty ladies.

But things don’t always go smoothly for the handsomely wooden Hugo – as flashbacks to Head in the Jar #2 attest. It’s a deeply weird movie full of cannibalism, bad parenting, questionable facial hair decisions, and a blatant disregard for the dangers of sun damage. Plus, a thousand cats.

I know. Bad movies are often just not worth it. This one is. I swear it.

Score: Even George has to admit that the awe-inspiring incompetence of this film begs for your viewing.

Listen to the whole conversation on the FRIGHT CLUB podcast.

Countdown: Winter Weather Lunchtime Options

Some people eat sauerkraut to begin the New Year, but if weather predictions hold true, we may be looking at snowbound isolation, even power outages. How long will your provisions hold out?! After enough time homebound and desperate, you might find yourself contemplating roasting a leg of neighbor over an open fire.

Should you find yourself in such a state, here are a few films you can think of as how-to’s.

7. Motel Hell (1980)

Super cheese director Kevin Connor teamed up with low rent 80s staple Nancy Parsons and 50s heartthrob Rory Calhoun – not to mention Elaine Joyce and John Ratzenberger – to create one of the best bad horror films ever made. So gloriously bad! Farmer Vincent (Calhoun) makes the county’s tastiest sausage, and runs the Motel Hello as well. Now if swingers (note: cannibals are always eating swingers) keep disappearing from the motel, and mysterious, bubbly moans are coming from those sacks out back, that does not necessarily mean anything is amiss. Motel Hell is a deeply disturbed, inspired little low budget jewel.

It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent’s fritters.

6. Eating Raoul (1982)

This bone-dry black comedy plays like an early John Waters film made with less money and more irony. The sexually repressed Mary and Paul Bland need to generate capital to open a restaurant and get away from the customers, patients, and neighbors constantly trying to have sex with them. They team up with a scam artist and thief named Raoul, played with almost shocking aptitude, considering the film itself, by Robert Beltran. Together the threesome knock off perverts and swingers, rob them, and sell their bodies for dog food. But when Raoul gets a little too ambitious, not to mention lucky with Mary, well, the couple is forced to eat him. And live happily ever after.

It’s amazing what you can do with a cheap piece of meat if you know how to treat it.

5. Soylent Green (1973)

Soylent Green may not be the most famous of Charlton Heston’s sci-fi cult classics, but his granite-jawed overacting is so perfect for this melodramatic examination of human nature, greed and desperation that it is still an amusing genre study.  Heston is a cop in this urban nightmare of an overpopulated future where the elderly are wooed into euthanasia by the same company that produces the only food available. You do the math. You’ll undoubtedly do it faster than Heston does, but that doesn’t undermine the fun.

You’ve got to tell them!  Soylent Green is people!


4. Titus (1999)

Director Julie Taymor glories in the spectacle of Shakespeare’s bloodiest play. Considered a pot boiler when it was written, it compares favorably in this century’s ultra-violent landscape. Titus, (Anthony Hopkins, perennial man eater), returns victorious from war, but the violence he wrought revisits him when he becomes entangled with a diabolical widow/war spoil (the ever-luminous Jessica Lange). Cannibalism, incest, rape, mutilation, infanticide, and an enormity of assorted carnage take on a surreal beauty under Taymor’s artistic direction.

Hark, villains, I shall grind your bones to dust, and of your blood I shall make a paste.

3. Delicatessen (1991)

Equal parts Eraserhead, Motel Hell and Amelie, Delicatessen is a weird, wild film. Set in the apartment building around a macabre butcher shop in a surreal, post-apocalyptic France, the film addresses the same cannibalism catalyst explored in many films: a human race that destroys everything required to sustain life and must turn to the only nourishment left. The carnival funhouse approach to cinematography predicts the absurdly funny take this black comedy has on humanity and its future.

Answer me meathead.


2. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

The action in this granddaddy of all cult films turns on one dinner scene. (Now you yell “Meatloaf again?!”) Creator Richard O’Brien’s raucous, once-controversial film about a sweet transvestite, a slut, an asshole and a couple of domestics who sing, time warp, throw rice, animate monsters, swap partners, and finally put on a show is still as much fun as it ever was. Once a subversive take on the classic musicals and sci-fi films of the 30s and 40s, Rocky Horror is now a high-camp icon of its own.

I’m afraid you’ve touched on a rather tender subject there, Dr. Scott. Another slice, anyone?

1. Silence of The Lambs (1991)

Why miss any opportunity to watch one of the most perfect horror films ever made? The fact that a movie about a man who eats human flesh tracking down a man who wears human flesh could win all five major Academy awards is itself a testament to how impeccably this film is put together. From the muted colors, haunting score, and meticulous cinematography to the shockingly authentic performances from Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster and Ted Levine, Silence of the Lambs is a stunning achievement in any film genre.

I do wish we could chat longer but I’m having an old friend for dinner.