Slaughter Hotel (1971)
aka La Besta Uccide a Sangue Freddo …. according to the google translator that turns into The Beast Kills In Cold Blood. The IMDB goes one better listing the film under the title Asylum Erotica. Considering the amount of nudity and what I’d call softcore porn I was about to view, that might be the best title of all.
Believe me or not, I truly had no idea of just how much sex and nudity was going to be on screen going in to this one.
There are three names that drew me in to this Giallo like thriller with a phantom killer running amok in a countryside hospital for those in need of a rest and some psychiatric care. First off the film was directed by Fernando Di Leo who greatly impressed me with his Eurocrime thrillers like The Italian Connection and Caliber 9. A couple of films I can easily recommend.
Secondly the film stars the one and only Klaus Kinski as a doctor at the retreat. With a slasher on the loose it’s not much of a stretch to look towards Kinski as the obvious phantom clad in black. Then again perhaps he’s just a red herring.
Thirdly is the fact that one of the most attractive Queens of exploitation is residing at the retreat. None other than the sexy Rosalba Neri. Some may know her best under her Lady Frankenstein billing, Sarah Bay.
Soon after the credits that play over an effective ghostlike backdrop of scenes to come, we’ll be treated to a phantom figure roaming the hospital halls and stopping by the hospital’s very own room full of ancient torture devices including the classic Iron Maiden.
Only in countryside retreats I suppose. Or in this case the Villa Sacchetti – Chigi where the exteriors were shot.
It’s at this point a new viewer is going to realize that the full frontal nudity quotient is going to be in abundance where our actresses are concerned with a shamefully lingering camera lens.
One will quickly learn that the retreat is for ladies only. Soon after our opening voyeur clip the blonde haired Gioia Desideri is being dropped off at the front door of the country side retreat overseen by John Karlsen. She’s prone to violent outbursts and will prove argumentative in scenes to come.
While Croquet may be the exercise prescribed to the inmates, Miss Rosalba has other ideas. It seems our Goddess of exploitation cinema is a nymphomaniac and has no interest in a cure. The gardener is going to be the first to benefit from her late night walk among the rosebushes.
Second billed Margaret Lee is a suicidal risk but with the help of the good Dr. Kinski she is nearing a cure and on the verge of release. It seems she’s also developed a crush on Klaus. And who wouldn’t I might ask? Definitely not my own Mother who thought he was one of the least attractive men ever caught on camera. Perhaps but there’s no denying it’s hard to take your eyes off him in any film. I’ve always identified Miss Lee with a number of films directed by Jess Franco or Harry Alan Towers Productions. Films like Five Golden Dragons, Venus in Furs and The Bloody Judge. She also appeared in a number of films with Kinski. Among them, The Bastards, Double Face, Bang Bang You’re Dead, The Devil’s Garden and Circus of Fear along with the aforementioned Golden Dragons.
Miss Lee is about the only leading lady who bypasses the heavy dose of nudity. Still to come is the beautiful inmate, Jane Garrett, who will soon be carrying on an interracial lesbian affair her nurse and caretaker, Monica Strebel. Was di Leo under pressure from producers to squeeze in as much sex and nudity as is possible while staying within the confines of the horror film? Then again maybe these were added after his participation came to an end. That’s been known to happen.
Enough with the porn. This is supposed to be a slasher/giallo flick I signed up for.
The violence does indeed go into overdrive in one night of blood where many of the props sitting in the museum of torture devices are put back into use. The Iron Maiden, a cross bow, an axe, knives and swords. All being wielded by our phantom with a hair style that when photographed in shadow looks very much like out real life madman Klaus.
I say this based on my asking actress Martine Beswick about him at a Q&A. Her reply with genuine laughter was, “mad as a hatter.” I suspected no less.
Now that we’ve lost the majority of our female cast. I can just hear Michael Caine saying, “Bloody Hell!” when in reality it was more like a “Bloody Mess!” Michael. Wisely, Klaus and Klassen will call in the local police to root out the killer who is still loose within the walls of the hospital.
And why not use one of our surviving ladies as bait? No seriously. Dr. Klaus even recommends it.
The version of the film I picked up on blu ray from Rarovideo clocked in at 94 minutes. I suspect that about 20 minutes could and probably were edited out of the film for some markets. I am of course referring to the needless amount of nudity caught on camera. Some of it quite intrusive. That’s all I’ll say concerning that.
As for what remains of the film footage? It’s passable thanks to the three reasons I tuned in for in the first place. As is to be expected, the magnificent voice of Kinski is nowhere to be found or heard. I’ve come to realize this is the norm with most films he appeared in overseas. Expected yes, but there’s always hope going in to these Euro affairs that I’ll hear his unmistakable voice. That hope inevitably ends once I’ve pressed play on the blu ray machine and the dubbing leaves me wanting the real deal.
Di Leo handles his directorial duties just fine but again, I’d point one and all to his Eurocrime thrillers to really appreciate his style and skill as a filmmaker. Then we come to Miss Alba. What can I say other than I find her attractive and it’s thanks to the home video market that has allowed me to catch up to some of her 1970’s work beyond an old video tape release of Lady Frankenstein which was a staple of late night TV ages ago in edited form.
With a clear conscience I can only recommend Slaughter Hotel or whichever title you prefer to go by to fans of the three names that drew me. Make that four. I’m sure Miss Lee might have some fans on the exploitation circuit as well.