Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Arrow Video - Motel Hell Blu-ray ""

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Arrow Video - Motel Hell Blu-ray

Growing up as a video store kid in the midwest in the late 80s, I spent my fair share of time wandering around the various horror sections of our local VHS renting establishments. One thing that always fascinated me about horror films on video was looking at the cover art. Like so many of my peers, I was suckered on many occasions by some salacious cover art. A good tagline was even enough sometimes(case in point: "Ding-Dong, You're Dead" or "The good news is your dates are here. The bad news is... they're dead."). Over a short period, I became quite well versed in the slasher and other horror subgenres of the 1980s, but MOTEL HELL was one film I somehow never got around to until now(even though the VHS could be found at practically ANY video store I went to during that period).

MOTEL HELL is of course part of the "crazy hillbilly family" horror subgenre. In this case, such a family traps and kidnaps people that pass by their roadside motel. Once incapacitated, they bury their victims up to their necks and proceed to feed them via funnels till they're plump. After that, they carve them up and mix them with other meats to make a unique(apparently delicious) concoction. Admittedly, I've always preferred a nice 80s slasher to this kind of film. Seems like the "catching up" period(how long it takes the victims to figure out they're dealing with some very bad folks) tends to take a little longer in this kind of film than I'd like.  Also, there's often a smugness to these psycho families that drives me insane. Like nails-on-a-chalkboard insane. I get that that is by design and we are meant to want to wanna see the evil-doers get their just desserts(pun intended here) in the end, but the obnoxious quotient is just too high for my tolerance most of the time. I'm quite sure I'd have had a bit more affection for this if I'd chosen to rent the VHS back in the day. That said, as a longtime fan of 80s horror, I'm glad I finally saw it.
MOTEL HELL is a bit like Jackie Kong's film BLOOD DINER(which I like considerably more than this). BLOOD DINER is a film that really "goes for it" in a way that unfortunately MOTEL HELL doesn't quite do. I understand they were shooting for some dark comedy, but it didn't quite come together for me. MOTEL HELL's director, Kevin O'Connor, was more of a sci-fi genre guy with films like THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT, AT THE EARTH'S CORE and WARLORDS OF THE DEEP preceding this one.

Arrow's Region B Blu-ray looks quite nice. From the neon-credits on, it's pretty pleasing to look at. Another film I never expected to be viewable in high-def like this. I wish the movie featured a little less night footage, but at least things are much easier to see in this transfer than the old MGM flipper disc. The extras are plentiful. They Include:

• Commentary with director Kevin Connor moderated by Calum Waddell.
• Another Head on the Chopping Block: Interview with star Paul Linke (14:50)
• From Glamour to Gore: Interview with co-star, and former Playboy Playmate, Rosanne Katon (11:26)
• Ida, Be Thy Name: A look back at Motel Hell's frightful female protagonist Ida Smith and the secrets of creating a convincing slasher siren, with Scream Queens Elissa Dowling and Chantelle Albers, genre commentator Staci Layne Wilson and critic Shelagh Rowan-Legg (18:07)
• Back to the Backwoods: Director Dave Parker (The Hills Run Red) speaks about the importance of Motel Hell (10:09)
• Original Trailer 

• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jeff Zornow

Overall, a solid disc for fans of 80s horror, others may not be as apt to want to own this film as it's a bit uneven. 

This new Blu-ray can be purchased from Arrow: HERE

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