Movie Double Feature
Review by John
reason I purchased this DVD was for Motel
Hell, the Side B feature. I remembered from my VHS rental
days perusing the horror section as a youth and coming across
the box for this film —
a skinny farmer and his obese sister holding a meat cleaver
like a perverse parody of the painting American Gothic.
The back of the box featured a still of a chainsaw-wielding
weirdo wearing the severed head of a pig like a helmet. I was
The other film
on this disc is an obscure oddity called Deranged,
which I'll get to momentarily.
Hell concerns a farmer and his sister (Rory Calhoun,
Nancy Parsons) who tend a grisly 'garden' made up of human 'plants'
who've had their vocal cords removed so they cannot scream for
help. All they do is make a sickening croaking sound, which
is quite disturbing. (Look for future Cheers &
Toy Story star John Ratzenberger
as an early victim.) As travelers stop by the Motel Hello —
the "O" on the neon sign has burned out —
they become unwilling victims to be planted in the garden, later
harvested for ingredients in Farmer Vincent's famous smoked
meat. As the movie's tag line says: "It takes all kinds of
critters to make Farmer Vincent's Fritters." Look for Playboy
Playmate Monique St. Pierre as Debbie, one of Farmer Vincent's
potential victims, and Wolfman Jack as Reverend Billy. Motel
Hell keeps a horror tradition alive (see The
Last House on the Left) by having a dueling chainsaw match
at film's climax.
I hadn't seen
Motel Hell for at least 12 years
before purchasing this DVD. It's a fun movie horror addicts
should eat up. I've read some rather scathing reviews of it
in some horror magazines; I'm not sure why the film gets this
reception. Sure, this material is hardly original, but it certainly
harkens back to a time (the '80s) when you could make an actual
R-rated horror movie entertaining and fun. Highly recommended.
played the drive-in circuit in 1974, the same year that
other movie loosely based on the exploits of notorious
necromaniac Ed Gein was released. That one starred an actor
named Gunnar Hansen playing the immortal Leatherface. Being
a huge, huge fan of The
Texas Chain Saw Massacre I'm surprised that I had
missed Deranged. (It was written
and co-directed by Alan Ormsby, star of and makeup artist for
Bob Clark's Children Shouldn't Play
with Dead Things.) Actually, the two films are similar in
that they both begin with a narrator. This device works as a
somber opening for Chainsaw, but
it's the only real criticism I have of Deranged.
In the case of the latter film the narrator isn't confined to
an off-screen presence; here, he appears on camera in the form
of a journalist. This has the tendency to ruin moments that
are truly horrifying, eventually becoming unintentionally comedic.
But don't let this minor flaw take too much away from an otherwise
genuinely creepy film.
always have a special place in my heart for the cannibal "classick"
that is Texas Chainsaw Massacre,
I must say Deranged is probably
the best film 'about' Ed Gein. It is very disturbing and shocked
me with its graphic nature and almost constant feeling of dread.
Ezra Cobb (gangly Roberts Blossom) needs "spare parts" to repair
his dead mother's rotting corpse. (Nice!) Actually Ezra's dead
mother (Cosette Lee) talks to him from beyond the grave — or
rather in his unhinged mind, that is — to let her son know she's
been neglected. Ezra's neighbor decides he should "settle down"
with a woman. This begins Ezra's nocturnal quest to both find
parts for Ma and a 'bride' for himself.
There are moments in the film that
reminded me of both Chainsaw and
Psycho. Some are darkly comedic,
others are downright scary. Give Deranged
a spin —
you won't be disappointed.
DVD is one of their double-feature 'Midnite Movie' discs and it
ranks as one of their best. Both features are presented in 16:9
widescreen and include their original theatrical trailer. Audio/visual
quality is quite good, with the bigger budgeted Motel
Hell generally faring best. Do yourself a favor and pick
up this tasty double feature of cannibal culture! 12/29/02