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SLAUGHTER HOTEL (BLU RAY) (1971)
Published by David Carter on 2015/3/1 (839 reads)
Directed by Fernando Di Leo
Review by David Carter
Released by Raro Video
Running Time: 94 minutes
Rating: Not Rated
Color format: Color
Audio/Subtitles: 2.0 DTS-HD English and Italian/English Subtitles
Region Code: 1, NTSC
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
16:9 Enhanced: Yes
Special Features: Two featurettes, deleted scenes, color booklet
Trailer Online: Yes
Short Version: Violent giallo fun
Fernando Di Leo is best known as the king of Italian crime cinema. His mastery of the poliziotteschi form is legendary, but Di Leo’s notoriety in the genre didn’t begin until 1972’s MILANO CALIBRO 9. Prior to that, he was but one of countless struggling B-movie directors in Italy and he worked on several projects that would surprise those who only know him for his later work. His big break came in 1969 with his A WOMAN ON FIRE and A WRONG WAY TO LOVE, two dramatic films heavy on the romance and without a hint of tough cops or vicious mobsters. Di Leo tried his hand at the giallo in 1971 with his SLAUGHTER HOTEL or La bestia uccide a sangue freddo, “the beast kills in cold blood.” Starring the inimitable Klaus Kinski, SLAUGHTER HOTEL is now available on a gorgeous Blu Ray from Raro Video.
Professor Osterman runs a respected mental institution – preferably called a “rest home” – for the wealthy. Patients are allowed to roam free throughout the castle-like building and have a personal nurse to attend to their every need. Homicidal housewife Ruth has no desire to stay there but calms down after being given a tour of the plush establishment. Fellow patient Cheryl is set to be released next week, having been cured of her suicidal feelings by Osterman. Dr. Clay (Kinski) protests that there is a still a danger, but Osterman puts this down to his attraction to Cheryl and informs her husband that she’ll be released as scheduled.
Night falls on the institution and while the ladies lounge in a lavish sitting room, terror reigns outside as a nurse is decapitated with a scythe. The black masked, cape-wearing killer then makes his way inside, helping himself to the asylum’s cache of medieval weapons before paying a visit to some of the patients. Ruth and nymphomaniac Anna fall victim to the unseen murderer but the entire complex is put on alert after he executes his next victim via crossbow. The police are convinced the killer is still hiding somewhere in the building and bodies continue to pile up as Osterman and Clay search for the culprit.
Di Leo refers to SLAUGHTER HOTEL as “shoddy” several times during one of the disc’s featurettes. I’m inclined to disagree with the maestro on this point, as I feel the movie a well made giallo despite the fact that it clearly isn’t up to the standards of his later work. His issue with the film is the contrivance regarding a weapons stash in an insane asylum and unsuccessful attempts to mislead audiences with red herrings about the killer’s identity. The weapons stash is a fair point, but while the red herrings aren’t particularly effective, the killer’s reveal will be surprising to everyone. Overall, the film doesn’t manage to generate much suspense but does expand on the other elements associated with gialli: sex and violence. In this regard, SLAUGHTER HOTEL is one of the earliest examples of a work that blurs the line between the giallo and its progeny, the slasher film. The film flirts with entering X-Rated territory in both the flesh and blood categories, and though lacking the cerebral elements of an Argento or Bava film, it does distill the key aspects of the giallo in an entertaining way.
Raro Video’s Blu Ray of the film is exceptional and features a great looking print from the original 35mm negative. The aforementioned featurette has insightful comments from Di Leo and star Rosalba Neri, who is also the subject of her own, slightly longer featurette focusing on her career. Two minutes of deleted scenes solidify this release as the definitive version of SLAUGHTER HOTEL and highlight comments made in the featurette about different versions for different markets. SLAUGHTER HOTEL is a decidedly different film than you might expect from the master of crime, but still a must-see for Italian exploitation fans.
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