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Director: Fernando Di Leo
Cast: Klaus Kinski, Rosalba Neri, Margaret Lee, Jane Garret, John Karlsen
Length: 94 min
Label: Raro Video/Kino Lorber
Release Date: Dec 9, 2014
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: Italian, English: DTSHD master audio 2.0
Subtitles: English (optional)
- Fully illustrated Booklet
- Documentary on the making and history of the movie curated by Nocturno Cinema Editorial: Lady Frankenstein Memoir’s (18 mins)
- Documentary on the making and history of the movie curated by Nocturno Cinema Editorial: Asylum of Fear (15’ mins)
- Deleted Scenes: This scene were extracted from a rare French 35 mm print and some of the scenes are silent, some in French/ (2 min)
- New and improved English subtitle translation
Raro Video breaks out another obscure Italian offering of Euro-trash onto BD, Slaughter Hotel aka La bestia uccide a sangue freddo, aka Cold Blooded Beast, aka Asylum Erotica (1971)—a cross breed giallo with a strong erotic emphasis, starring cult icons Klaus Kinski and Rosalba Neri. Fans will be pleased with the quality of this release and the associated extras, including exclusive uncut footage, thanks to Raro’s ongoing commitment to bring such sinful delights to home video in newly restored editions.
You would think a title like Slaughter Hotel would be quite self-explanatory, especially when you consider that the film often gets pushed into the Italian giallo category, and boasts the potentially explosive Klaus Kinski in a starring role. Just knowing these three things might lead anyone who hasn’t seen the film to predict its contents by association. But then such is the joy and wonder of the catchall thriller category ‘giallo’ when it comes to determining possible content. Although in 1971, a vintage year for the genre—The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh, Black Belly of the Tarantula, A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, Four Flies on Grey Velvet—the bulk of Italian pulp thrillers did follow a certain formula; black gloved killers, women getting murdered in vicious ways, stylish violence and lush soundtracks, the sub-genre did throw up some wild cards here and there that took things off the beaten track. Slaughter Hotel is one such example. This effort by director Fernando Di Leo certainly isn’t one of the strongest, most memorable, or stylish, but it definitely has a shot at being one of the sleaziest. The alternate title Asylum Erotica is much more fitting to the content, and it is a shame that Slaughter Hotel remains the main English language branding, given that it is slightly misleading and does carry the risk of setting expectations in an entirely wrong direction.
First, it’s important to establish the film doesn’t take place in a hotel, but a high class mental asylum for troubled women of obvious financial means. Before we get all Girl Interrupted, Slaughter Hotel is nothing of the sort and most of the women appear to be there for the sole purpose of being naked and masturbating, or in one case having lesbian relations with their nurse, or going to romantic dinners with the head doctor (Kinski). The hospital boasts quite an impressive location, in the form of a large Stately home, (the facade of which was used on the Italian poster for Lady Frankenstein, also starring Rosalba Neri), but for anyone not paying much attention to the plot it would be easy to fall under the illusion that the residents are at some sort of weekend Spa rather than being treated for any mental disorders. This confusion comes from the absence of the usual mental hospital tropes—properly uniformed staff, bars on windows, locked doors, or any form of restraining equipment, hospital wards, etc… Then there is the fact that the residents appear to be able to wander around freely, even those who may pose a danger to others. Why the director took this approach is anyone’s guess, but I would suspect the budget—or lack of—played a large part.
Back to the patients and Rosalba Neri as Anne, who at least has an excuse for her behavior; being diagnosed as a nymphomaniac, which sees her venture out to get down and dirty with the gardener on the greenhouse floor and pull out all the stops to demonstrate just how she likes to enjoy her alone time. This scene does bear the flavor of something Jess Franco might have made, (think Doriana Grey minus the hardcore—although it doesn’t stop far from crossing that line). On this level Slaughter Hotel does also bear some resemblance to the work of Italian sleaze king Joe D’Amato, ala Death Smiles on a Murderer (1973) (which also starred Klaus Kinski). The two films do share some similarities: surreal meandering plot lines, emphasis on the erotic over violence, and a criminally underused Kinski. This is perhaps the film’s biggest failure. As with Death Smiles, Kinski hardly even gets off the starting block and might as well not be there for most of the proceedings. For those well acquainted with the actor’s, shall we say more demanding performances, it is a wonder to see him here so subdued. But then it is highly likely many will find Kinski an afterthought after witnessing Rosalba Neri’s absorbing scenes which leave little to the imagination.
So where does the Slaughter come in? Well in the form of an obligatory black gloved killer who sneaks about and has a penchant for killing women with medieval weapons that litter the establishment. The fact that a killer can amble around the facility, stabbing women, slashing their throats, or shooting them in the head with arrows, and remain undetected is just testament to the lack of security surrounding the hospital. This may sound like a minus but I found it just amps up the camp ratio tenfold. You just can’t beat a bit of Euro-trash when it comes to throwing common sense out the window to allow for some good old fashioned killing and T&A. To be fair the murders are fairly well executed when they appear, the failure here is the pacing and lack of murders in the first half. All can be forgiven however when the film reaches its mindboggling and bloody conclusion. Director Fernando Di Leo made some solid films in the Italian Crime Thriller genre, and was an able scriptwriter too. It is obvious from what we see here in Slaughter Hotel that giallo probably wasn’t a genre he was particularly au fait with, as there is a lack of coherence, familiarity or indeed commitment on his part. That said, the film does share the same level of insanity in the end note as his later offering To Be Twenty (1978)—anyone who has seen this freewheeling hippy oddball thriller will know what levels of madness to expect when the proverbial shit starts to hit the fan.
It goes without saying that anyone who is familiar with the previous Raro Italy DVD release of this title will know that their version of Slaughter Hotel is derived from a good quality master. Here on Blu-ray it is beautifully upgraded to 1080p, and presented in original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, with an obvious respect for the film’s original cinematic look and feel. Colours are nicely saturated, and the HD upgrade doesn’t look digitized. Film grain looks natural and, overall, this is a good quality upgrade to BD, although the contrast is a little too high.
This release benefits from providing both the original Italian audio with optional English subtitles, and an English dub track—each presented in their original mono form. The sound, like the print, boasts a decent remaster which does not demonstrate any noticeable damage or flaws. Note: when listening to the English track, those shots that were originally cut from the English language release are presented here in silence, since no English audio was ever recorded for them. The Italian track, of course, has no such problems.
Ported over from the region 2 Raro DVD release of Slaughter Hotel comes an interview with star Rosalba Neri titled ‘Lady Frankenstein’s Memoirs’ which is a worthy addition to the disc and will be of interest to all fans of Eurocult film. Neri is generous with her time, packing the twenty minute featurette with masses of personal anecdotes about her career in Italian film and sharing details of her working relationships with genre icons such as Edwige Fenech and Barbara Bouchet.
There is also a small feature, ‘Asylum of Fear’ (15 min), with director Di Leo, and star Rosalba Neri (among others) sharing their insights into the film.
Exclusive to this release are some additional scenes, some without sound, which come from the original 35mm print given in deleted scenes. Raro explain the lack of sound on these additions as down to a technical problem with the original master. These scenes are exclusive to this release and therefore are going to have great value to collectors on that basis.
There is also a collector’s booklet with an essay on the film by Fangoria/Gorezone/Delirium editor, writer, filmmaker and critic Chris Alexander.
An obscure and erotically charged piece of giallo history comes respectfully restored to BD by Raro in a fantastic collector’s edition—worth upgrading for the deleted scenes, and additional material contained in this release. Slaughter Hotel isn’t perhaps the best title in the long catalogue of gialli to come from the period, and it certainly isn’t even the most stand-out piece from the vintage year it was made, however it will have some appeal to those who love their Euro film with a trashy and sexually motivated edge. Also highly recommended to fans of Joe D’Amato and Jess Franco.