Sunday, 22 July 2012

5 Films on Hotels of Horror

Summer vacations, packing the family up and taking them out on the highway to discover the great country we live in.  Unfortunately, we need to sleep sometimes and hotels are a lot more comfortable than the car but how do you know if the hotel/motel is good?  You don't and you have to trust that the creepy inn keepers won't video tape you or chop you up for jerky.  It can be terrifying to think that the roadside inn may be your last stop, literally.

 With that in mind, here are 5 Films on Hotels of Horror

5. Horror Hotel (Aka City of the Dead) (1960) - Christopher Lee sends a young college student, Nan Barlow,  to research her paper on witchcraft in his spooky fictional hometown in Whitewood.  When she arrives, she is checked into the Raven's Inn by a mysterious lady Mrs. Newless and learns about the towns terrible past of burning witches at the stake. She is in Massachusetts though, go figure. After exploring the strange town and being turned away from the church by a crotchety parish priest, she meets a friend at a local bookshop, Patricia, who lends her a book on witchcraft. Nan returns to the hotel and is sacrificed at midnight. When Nan doesn't show up at a party, her brother, Richard and her boyfriend Bill go and investigate her disappearance.  With the help of Patricia, they discover the shocking truth about not only the Raven's Inn but the towns people of Whitewood! This film is a classic! Spooky locale with lots of dry ice, witches stealing people in the night and Christopher Lee masterminding the whole thing, what more could you ask for? There aren't any terribly gruesome scenes but some skeletons show up here and there. Audio excerpts have been used in Rob Zombie's Dragula, also Iron Maiden and the Misfits have written songs about the film. Great classic!

4. Motel Hell (1980) - After a motorcycle accident in the country side, Terry, a young woman is rescued by Vincent Smith, a local celebrity meat smoker and owner of Motel Hello. Vincent takes Terry back to the hotel and with his sister Ida and nurse Terry back to health. He tells his sheriff brother, Bruce not to worry about it and he's already buried Terry's boyfriend. Sheriff Bruce is amazingly o.k with this course of events and leaves, but what he doesn't know is that Vincent has actually planted Terry's boyfriend Bo in his secret garden and plans to smoke his meat! Dun, Dun Dun! Yes, apparently Farmer Vincent's Smoked Meat contains people who Vincent has captured from his motel and grinded into jerky. He captures them, cuts out their larynx and buries them alive in his secret garden until their ready.  While Terry goes on a date and almost gets raped by the sheriff, Vincent and Ida continue capturing people and sticking them into the ground, including John Ratzenberger as a punk rock drummer,   Terry then decides she likes her men older, way older and wants Vincent to marry her.  The story gets really jumbled but the fact is someone has to stop them, who will it be? Rory Calhoun stars as Vincent and is passable.  The story is really thin and I think it's suppose to be a comedy, it has to be. Wolfman Jack, even though credited as star only shows up once or twice and Nancy Parson's (Porkies) character is the only one that is consistent. It's funny at times and the end of the film is pretty gory. Worth a watch but you may want to steer clear from Motel Hell, unless you want your meat smoked.
3. Calvaire (The Ordeal) (2004) - Marc Stevens is a traveling singer and after his big gig at the nursing home, he heads out to for his Christmas extravaganza at probably another nursing home.  On his way, his van breaks down on a deserted road on a dark and stormy night but with the help from a local mental deficient, Boris, Marc is brought to Bartel's Inn.  Mr. Bartel is pleased to see Marc and offers him a room for the night.  The next day, Mr. Bartel calls the local garage and tells Marc that they are very busy but will try and come up today.  He tells Marc that he should take a walk but not to near the village because they could hurt him.  Marc goes for his walk and Mr. Bartel continues to tinker with Marc's car.  On his walk, he watches a group of hillbillies pleasuring themselves with a goat. Disgusted Marc runs away before he can be seen and returns to his van still not working.  Mr. Bartel tells him that it should be fixed tomorrow and invites him for supper and to stay another night. Over supper, Mr. Bartel's tells Marc about his wife, Gloria who left him, how she was a singer and he was a comedian. He tells Marc a joke and demands that Marc sing for him.  Uncomfortably, Marc sings and asks Mr. Bartel to wake him up in the morning then goes to bed.  Marc wakes up late the next morning and while looking for Mr. Bartel, notices the phone line has been cut and his things from his van are in a shed.  He goes to his van, looks under the hood and his battery is also missing.  He confronts Mr. Bartel and their conversation ends with Marc being hit in the head with the battery.  Marc wakes up tied to a chair, wearing in sundress and Mr. Bartel is calling Gloria.  Marc realizes now that he must try to escape from not only Mr. Bartel but the hillbillies as well.  This is a movie from Belguim and is really creepy in a number of ways.  It definitely has a Deliverance feel to it but the Bartel character is so crazy, that you can't tell what he is going to do next.  Not a lot gore per say but it is very disturbing picture. Not for the faint of heart.
2. The Happiness of the Katakuris (2001) -After a strange claymation opening, we find the Katakuris ready to open their rustic mountain inn on the outskirts of town. The family includes a grumpy grandfather, a failing father, a supportive mother, delinquent son, a floozy daughter with a granddaughter in tow.  They have come here to make their fortune as innkeepers and the only thing holding them back is the lack of customers.  Days go by and finally someone checks into the hotel, unfortunately they have come to kill themselves.  The Katakuris discover the body the next day and bury it in the woods, so their Inn will receive no bad press. However, it seems anyone who checks in mysteriously dies and after burying so many bodies Mr. Katakuris doesn't know if he should throw in the towel.  Interesting film, director Takashi Miike takes a very different approach to this one.  Instead of a gory bloodbath or twisted monsters, he works with claymation, dance numbers and creates a horror musical.  It's a funny and enjoyable film but it's weird as fuck.  I was not expecting the singing and the dancing zombies at all but they had me laughing.  If you like strange horror films, this is definitely for you.
1. The Shining (1980) - The Overlook Hotel needs a caretaker and Jack Torrance is the man for the job.  Young retired school teacher, writer, former alcoholic, abusive dad, what could go wrong with this man and his family after months of isolation?  Jack, his wife Wendy, their son Danny and the Tony, the little boy who lives in Danny's mouth, all move up to the Overlook, to keep it maintained for the winter. There they meet Mr. Hallorann, who takes a shining  to Danny.  As the manager leads Mr. & Mrs. Torrance around the hotel, Mr. Hallorann and Danny talk about their psychic abilities and the creepy images Tony is showing Danny about the hotel.  With everything in order, they take over the hotel and after the first month, Wendy is taking care of the upkeep of the hotel (?), Jack is trying to write and Danny is still seeing creepy girl ghosts and blood gushing from the elevator.  Jack is finding out writing is harder than it looks and with the increased isolation is becoming more grumpy and more prone to violent verbal outbursts.  One evening after one of these outbursts, Jack finds myself at the bar and offers to sell his soul for one drink.  He is happily obliged and whether it be his imagination, the ghosts of the hotel or the devil himself, this is where the story turns weird.  Fed up with his family and with a little push from Delebert Grady, the former caretaker who chopped his family up and then blew his owns brains out, Jack decides he needs to off his family.  Can Wendy and Danny escape, watch and find out! When KillPandaKill were doing the 5 favourite films with bands, the Shining was the film that came up the most.  Stanley Kuberick took Stephen King's novel and transformed it into a piece of film history.  Jack Nicholson's portrayal of Jack Torrance is brilliant and was during a time when Nicholson was truly at his best.  He captures the terrifying essence of Torrance in not just in the dialogue but in the look of his eyes and his mannerisms.  Shelly Duvall and Scatman Crothers are excellent as well in their supporting roles.  The film isn't blood hungry but the way Kuberick sets the tone and tension is brilliant. A must see for anyone!

So, the next time you want to skint out on a hotel, remember these films and maybe you won't wake up in a sundress or in a packet of sausages.

1 comment: