Posts Tagged ‘farm

24
Nov
13

Motel Hell (1980): Hearts in the Right Place…The Meat Grinder

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a Primal Root review

“Sometimes I wonder about the karmic implications of these actions.” -Farmer Vincent

With Thanksgiving mere days away,  I begin contemplating  good old fashioned family values and the anticipation of devouring finely prepared, mouth watering, slaughtered animals. Hell, there’s nothing better than celebrating your thankfulness with the ones you love than by roasting the carcass and then sinking your teeth into the delicious flesh of the traditional Thanksgiving turkey, honey cured ham, or human torso. After all, as Farmer Vincent says, “Meat’s Meat and a Man’s gotta Eat.”

This is the central conceit of Kevin Connor’s 1980 black comedy horror masterpiece, “Motel Hell”, the story of a family Motel and Meat curing business torn asunder by the meddling of outsiders who just don’t understand their ways.  Tall, white haired, skinny as a rail Farmer Vincent (Rory Calhoun, charming as ever) and his large, imposing, deranged sister Ida (Nancy Parson, Coach Balbricker from Porky’s!) run the rural Motel Hello and adjacent Farmer Vincent’s Smoked Meats stand. Their meat and down home hospitality are legendary to those who grew up int he area, and tourists come from far and wide to get a taste at Farmer Vincents secret recipe… I have a feeling you know where I’m going with this, it ain’t just an extra dash of Tabasco in those cocktail weenies!

Yeeeeah, I think I'm gonna go find a Ramada...

Yeeeeah, I think I’m gonna go find a Ramada…

Vincent and Ida spend their evenings laying out intricate traps in order to capture unwary travels who make the mistake of passing near their homestead int he middle of the night. Once they’ve nabbed their prey, those poor souls are interred in the sibling’s “secret garden” and go through a very special procedure to prepare their succulent human flesh for the famous family recipe giving their cured meats that one of a kind flavor. As Farmer Vincent cheerily exclaims, “It Takes All Kinds of Critters, To Make Farmer Vincent’s Fritters!”  The two siblings seems to have a real good thing going, the business sis booming, their little brother and local law enforcement officer, Bruce, has no idea what they’re up to and there’s no lack of dim witted heathens to run off the road and turn into beef jerky treats. But it’s when Vincent takes in one of his victims, the lovely Terry (Nina Axelrod) and decides it might be a good idea to settle down that their whole cannibalistic world begins caving in.

Now, before I go and give you the idea that Vincent and Ida are both out of control backwoods psychopaths ala The Texas Chainsaw Massacre family, let me state that these are two of the most friendly, accommodating and thoughtful human flash slurping cannibals in cinematic history. These two are concerned with making their victim’s, er, livestock’s slaughter as painless as possible, and go through some bizarrely comical means in order to make sure of this. Hell, they even have lovely introspective conversations where they ponder the karmic implications of their work and whether or not they will be remembered fondly for the work they do on the farm. Vincent and Ida are murderers, plain and simple, but one cannot help like this introspective, God fearing duo.  Hell, later in the film when Terry starts flashing her tits and Vincent and tries to make out with the old man, he stops her and insists they should be married before there will be such hanky-panky. Could you ever imagine Leatherface doing this? Hell, head probably start hollering, tearing his hair out and rev up his chainsaw…Not Farmer Vincent, that guy’s got one strong, if deeply flawed, moral compass.

don't worry, I'll send the Christ cuts to Hebrew National.

Don’t worry, I’ll send the Christ cuts to Hebrew National.

In one stand out scene from ‘Motel Hell”, Farmer Vincent, Ida, and younger brother and lawman Bruce, tell Terry a down home story about how their long dead Grandmother was the one who taught Vincent everything he knows about curing and smoking meats out of necessity since the family didn’t have an icebox. One day, when Granny was sick and tired of a neighbor’s dog constantly barking, she asked Vincent to go take care of it. Vincent chuckles as he recalls throwing the dog in the meat smoker and serving it up for dinner. Ira and Bruce both chuckle and join in, recalling how the meat was a bit like goat meat, only stringier, as Terry looks on in stunned disbelief before chocking it up to simple hillbilly behavior.  Farmer Vincent justifies his actions by quoting his Granny, “Meat is Meat and a Man’s Gotta Eat!”

Really, being raised with such a mentality it’s totally understandable that Vince and Ida don’t see a difference between the meat of animals and the meat of human beings. Int he end, really, what is the difference? The slaughter, clean and cut up the meat just the same as all the others int he smoke house. It’s just business, nothing personal, plus it gives them their one of a kind flavor which makes them stand out from the competition! It’s literally a dog eat dog world in Motel Hell, as our homicidal duo take care in selecting those they feel don’t contribute to society like bikers, metal bands, working girls, swingers and FDA inspectors, and add them to the ever growing mouth watering deathloaf. Even though the public has no knowledge of the human content in their smoked meats, at least they can rest easy knowing here are no chemicals or preservatives in the product they just ate. Hey, that’s just good, down home quality! Who has time to worry if a couple members of that missing hair band you saw last week are in that jerky stick?

Grazing in the grass is a gas, baby, can you dig it?

Grazing in the grass is a gas, baby, can you dig it?

As we all expected from the beginning, Terry wonders into the smokehouse and stumbles onto the big family secret and end sup bound, gagged and listening to Vincent’s fundamentalist dogma as he explains why it is he does what he do all while chopping a human body into hot dog meat. Vincent goes on to explain that he’s helping out the human condition by controlling over population and handling the food shortage problem all in one fell swoop. “What gives you the right to play God?” Terry asks. “Play God? I wouldn’t even know where to start! I’m just helping out.”  It’s a strange “Greater Good, God’s Plan” argument I feel many folks on the political right could totally get behind, especially when espoused by such a seemingly down to earth and loveable folk hero as Farmer Vincent. Hell, we all have to make sacrifices, right? Might as well be the working class that won’t be missed!

As soon as the heroic, if incredibly dumb and rapey, Bruce bursts into the smokehouse to save the day, “Motel Hell” dives head first into it’s absurd, surrealist underpinnings and bursts through the floodgates with blood spattered jubilant glee as Farmer Vincent dons a severed pigs head, picks up his chainsaw and engages his little brother in chainsaw, to chainsaw combat while laughing like a maniac the entire time. It’s graphic, it’s goofy, it’s gory and unlike anything I’ve seen before or since in the annals of American backwoods cannibal horror cinema. It feels like some kind of blood drenched fever dream you would have after consuming to much Christmas ham and then getting a stomach bug. My words fail to do the finale of “Motel Hell” justice, you’ve gotta see it to even begin to comprehend it.

Babe III: The Reckoning

Babe III: The Reckoning

“Motel Hell” is a queer duck of a horror film. It delivers the horror and the comedy, but it doesn’t exactly mix and ends up more often than, simply being absurd. I laughed my ass either way,  as this is some truly peculiar, yet, entertaining food for thought.  Try not to fall in love with Farmer Vincent and Ida, I dare ya. Those two are such fantastic, memorable characters, you’ll find yourself deeply saddened to see them go by film’s end.

So, this Thanksgiving, be thankful for your family, friends and take a closer look at that dead thing you’re shoveling into your face. you never know just who might be over for dinner.

Four and a Half out of 5 Dumpster Nuggets. Root highly recommends you spend a night at “Motel Hell!”

Stay Trashy!

-Root

14
Jan
13

Texas Chainsaw 3D: The Family That Slays Together…

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a Primal Root review

“Do your thing, cuz!” -Heather, Texas Chainsaw 3D

*SPOILERS AHEAD!*

Taking up directly after the events of the very first Texas Chainsaw Massacre film, literally the very afternoon after Leatherface,  Hitchhiker, Cook and Grandpa, mercilessly terrorized poor young Sally in their decrepit old farmhouse over supper, The Sawyer household is descended upon by a gang of pick-up truck driving, rifle wielding, vigilantes out for blood. Before you can say “I thought you was in a hurry!” the Sawyer clan, now numbering in the dozens (huh?) is struck down in a bloody, brutal one sided battle waged by beer swilling rednecks.  So much for that whole family of Draculas being such fierce opponents.  But one little baby Sawyer survives to be raised by an unloving, alcoholic white trash couple…sigh.

Almost 40 years later and that little Sawyer baby is now in her early twenties and a burgeoning art student who likes to use dead animal parts in her work, lives in a trendy, spacious loft with her live in unfaithful boyfriend (*spoiler alert* he’s fucking her best friend who is dating a crepe chef or something). The survivng Sawyer baby has been given the name Heather Miller. She’s a strikingly pretty, pale skinned, shapley young thing with jet black hair, a penchant for flannel and the standard issue emo hipster hairstyle. Who knew the Sawyer clan’s backwoods, inbred, hillbilly genes could produce such a sexy thing?

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Heather receives a mysterious message in the mail informing her she has just inherited the estate of a long lost relative who has just recently passed away. You know where this is headed, don’t you? Yep, she is now the proud owner of the Sawyer estate which has undergone some pretty drastic renovations since we last ventured out that way for dinner. Now it’s a two story mansion with a pool table and a Better Homes and Gardens makeover. Oh, and with plenty of room in the basement for the only other survivor of the Texas NRA Massacre, ol’ Buzzsaw Billy himself, Leatherface!

Heather and her dead bodies, I mean, best buddies, road trip it out there, inherit the estate and begin getting acquainted with the townsfolk. All of which seem wary and trigger happy that there’s so much hubbub going down at the Sawyer house.  That very first evening, as Heather pokes around the house (and her boyfriend heads off to the nearby barn to have his man utter milked by Heather’s best bud) Commando Crepe ventures down to Leatherface’s lair unleashing the maniac’s special brand of down home house warming. Nothing says Southern Hospitality like a man wearing someone else’s face and wielding a chainsaw, am I right?

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That’s right, it’s intestinal coleslaw city! Next thing you know, people are getting slammed on meat hooks, getting cut in half,  having their faces re appropriated as fashion accessories, etc. And once all the teen character’s are out of the way, the movie is only half way to the finish line! We still got a whole town of  blood thirsty, Coors swilling, Glen Beck fans to obliterate! You know that subtle gore the original Tobe Hooper “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” was known for?  Yeeeeeah, don’t expect such restraint here. There’s gut spilling in this flick that would make Jigsaw blush. It’s a smorgasbord of splatter along the lines of Tobe Hooper’s sequel,  the cleverly titled ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2″. Of course,  I am saying this about the movies gore level. Because the intelligence and wit of the original Chainsaw franchise (well, the first and Part 2) is missing in action.

Texas Chainsaw 3D is about as dumb as they come, you don’t just have to suspend your disbelief for the action that takes place in the film to make sense, you gotta whack your disbelief over the head with a crowbar and ship it to Abu Dhabi for this sucker to pass muster.  The fact that the surviving Sawyer girl is only in her early twenties,  that Leatherface has been just chilling in a basement for the past 30 some odd years, that even after being bound with her arms over her head and having her shirt torn open Heather’s gorgeous heaving breasts would stay totally covered…It’s all very stupid. Almost like… Almost like… *GASP* AN OLD SCHOOL SLASHER SEQUEL!

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Only, if this were an old school slasher film, you;d be seeing all kinds of boobage right now.

I don’t know how it happened but I genuinely enjoyed Texas Chainsaw 3D.  Sure, it was about as dumb a sack of entrails, but it did tap into that exact same level of absurd stupidity as the Friday the 13th and Halloween sequels. It’s just mayhem for mayhem’s sake and feels like some kind of missing 1980’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequel! Sure, they try to humanize Leatherface a bit more in this entry, but that’s kind of the plight of the sequel.  They always try to show you more of what makes these monsters tick, and in the process, unintentionally end up make them less scary.

Texas Chainsaw 3D is a bad movie. It’s just plain BAD.  Like my spelling. But you know what, I still had a blast sitting back and letting the movie do it’s business despite the near infinite dumbshit creative decisions. Probably the coolest segment of the whole damn movie was the opening credits which featured retrofitted sequences from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre now rendered  IN 3D! The final chase where Sally is pursued by hitchhiker and Leatherface  was quite a sight to behold in the third dimension, especially after having seen the film several dozen times over the years, it gave the classic a fresh perspective. Hell, they should just re-release the original in 3D like Titanic! If I paid money for this slice of undercooked headcheese I sure as Hell would pay money to see one of the greatest horror films ever made in 3D!

But, I digress…

Texas Chainsaw 3D eschews everything that followed the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre as if those events  never happened and plays almost like a fan film. With cameos by series cast favorites (and horror convention circuit staples) as well as copious tips of the hat to the franchise, it’s obvious that this flick was made by people who have a deep admiration for the series.  Which makes me scratch my head and wonder why they didn’t make it their concern to write a Great, Hell, even a GOOD screenplay for what is essentially supposed to be the sequel to the landmark original?  Instead, they created this greasy piece of scrapple that’s enjoyable, sure it’s fun, but it doesn’t exactly feel like direct lineage to the original.  Not exactly direct blood but a far of distant second cousin in law that shares the same name.

It's Hammer Time aka: Don't get too attached to the bald guy.

It’s Hammer Time aka: Don’t get too attached to the bald guy.

Gorgeous actress Alexandra Daddario steals the show as Heather, the long lost Sawyer girl who is grappling with her family connection. Seeing her go from a lost soul to Leatherface’s keeper is pretty cool. She also has great crazy eyes that are hidden behind a  sweet, inconspicuous gaze. Seriously, when she embraces the killer inside and starts hacking and slashing while quipping like Freddy, her crazy eyes might just be the most unsettling aspect of the whole damn film. She widens those puppies, grins like the Cheshire Cat, sinks her pitchfork into folks and I ended up with the strangest boner…I still think they really missed an awesome opportunity to create a female Leatherface here. Seriously, how fantastic would it be to see some buxom young woman in a grue spattered apron, wearing someone else’s face while revving up a chainsaw and doing the infamous Leatherface shuffle? Am I alone on this? Bueller? Bueller?

Dan Yeager as Leatherface is…he gets the job done. Neither the best nor the worst Leatherface to cross paths with the franchise. Leatherface sure is getting up there in age though,  but as evidenced by Heather’s age, the basic rules of space and time need not apply in the Chainsawniverse.  Leatherface can still chase after prey with the best of them. Never running out of breath or breaking his hip.  It’s gotta be those Centrum Silvers he’s been taking. Probably his best moment is at the very end of the film when Heather interacts with him at the Sawyer dining room table after one VERY long night. It’s both oddly touching and even almost suspenseful. We finally get an extended look at Leatherface’s eyes and we can almost imagine he’s emoting. Great stuff.

I don't see how this is any different than any other night at the county fair.

I don’t see how this is any different than any other night at the county fair.

I was expecting the absolute worst walking into Texas Chainsaw 3D and, while not very good, I thought it was passable schlock fun. Sure, they turned Leatherface into much more of an anti-hero than he ever was originally, and made the whole Sawyer clan WAY more sympathetic than I feel anyone could ever try and take a family of murderous redneck cannibals, and there are plot holes so big you could speed  a big rig right through them,  but it is a nice big helping of bad movie fun. It plays it straight with no post-modern jabs at slasher movie conventions and is thick and heavy with the red sauce. It doesn’t spend it’s time trying to be witty or clever, it just wants to give us it’s story and serve us up a nice big bowl of  splatter film love.

This movie is terrible, but for those looking for an old school, brain dead,  slasher flick to gnaw on a bit, look no further.   Now get me a female Leatherface!

Stay Trashy!

-Root




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