Monday, August 15

Motel Hell (1980) - 1983 Warner Home Video Japan VHS

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In spite of being widely seen and appreciated by horror fans, Kevin Connor's Motel Hell still feels like an underdog in terms of recognition. It's arguably the first example of the modern horror comedy in the post-Texas Chainsaw era. Unlike nearly all attempts prior, this yarn detailing the latest sensation in human tulips and tasty smoked jerky never lacks trust in the viewer to assume its both a horror film and a comedy.

The beginning of a beautiful period in the genre where audiences seemed more accepting; and perhaps smarter, to appropriately laugh along with the shocks. Conner's film is a classic because this balance is so even it can be enjoyed firmly "planted" either way depending on an individual's own perceptions. It feels no need to scream out its absurdity, but it's there in plain view for those looking. Conversely there's enough horror, including nods to the aforementioned 1974 Massacre, to take purely as two cannibalistic maniacs in a bizarre love triangle with sliced vocal chords, buzzing chainsaws, severed hog's head masks galore.

Aside from a few fleeting examples, self-proclaimed horror comedies like Motel Hell are back to being box office poison. Probably from a combination of idiotic parodies like the Scary Movie series and the artificial "gritty seriousness" bull ushered in by Jigsaw muddying the waters. Like the time I saw Slither theatrically and after about a half an hour a guy behind me said "So it's supposed to be funny?!" like he just swallowed a sliced lemon. Sad, but meat is meat, and a man's gotta eat!


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