31 Nights Of GIALLOWEEN: Slaughter Hotel (1971)

Greetings, Deviants! Welcome to Day 2 of GIALLOWEEN!

As you may be aware by now, we are doing something different this year...because, well...that's how we roll. Instead of the usual horror countdowns that you see everywhere...we are watching gialli for 31 days straight. So, if you don't like sleazy classic Italian films with black-gloved killers and fashion model victims...well, there's always the popular horror sites out there...doing their thing. However, if you would like to expand your horror universe and delve into the seedy world of giallo...well, then my Deviant friends...this is your place.

Let's move right into a film from 1971, back during the very peak of gialli, starring the likes of Rosalba Neri, Margaret Lee and Klaus Kinski. Often referred to as its alternate titles...Asylum Erotica (sad to say that this title would have grabbed my attention) and Cold Blooded Beast (I have no idea), Fernando Di Leo's shining moment in cinema history, Slaughter Hotel  is a blend of giallo and exploitation in just the right places. The film offers some truly iconic moments if you can get past the chintzy odd behavior it has in spades, often distracting the viewer from the good stuff. 

The basic premise finds a bunch of fashion-conscience but, completely insane hot rich women being killed off one by one in an upscale sanitarium by a sadistic maniac while the good Dr. Francis Clay (Kinski) and his SUPER LONG cigarette ash walks around the asylum seemingly as if posing for some kind of high-fashion photo shoot he has going on in his head. Di Leo often fails to make good use of his players...only prancing them around in odd sequences. Anne's (Neri) seduction of the gardener in the greenhouse immediately comes to mind. Because...why wouldn't it?? Such a crazy scene that comes off quite randomly...but, entertains all around. It is an exercise in stunt-watching that captures the curiosity of the viewer...wondering what will transpire next. It's just a shame that we are usually left teased with no real outcome.

I do have to point out how much I really liked the killer's look in this film. I enjoyed how he employed medieval weapons and wasn't afraid to use something as cumbersome as an ax to dispatch his victims. I especially loved the scenes where the killer perused the hallways and staircases with roped banisters. The cape was a nice touch. And the cinematography was pretty impressive, as well. Some really great imagery throughout the film. Just wish there was more of it.

Unfortunately (fortunately), the film is abound with long shots of Jane Garret's (Mara) plump ass (hey...I'm not complaining here) and various shots of Kinski looking like a mysterious pimp...and not much else. Although, there is that one scene where Neri's character, Anne, indulges in some detailed self-pleasuring of the furry variety...and the kill scenes manage to excite, if only for brief moments. And while the killer looks quite dapper (especially once the identity is revealed), there's hardly any tension or interesting characters to get behind and, in the end, the film amounts to nothing more than a decent-looking exercise in mediocrity.

Slaughter Hotel...or La bestia uccide a sangue freddo (as it is known in its native Italy) isn't bad. It just doesn't bring the excitement and fun that most gialli in its league tend to possess effortlessly. For his giallo debut, Di Leo could have done worse. He approaches each scene with a respect for the genre and a passion not seen in many contemporary films genre films. Would I purchase the Blu-ray from Raro Video? Well...I did...but, I got it from eBay for like 10 bucks. Is it a recommendation? Well...that depends on whether you are a strict fan of the genre who simply has to own every gialli out there (like me)...or a casual fan of the Italian genre. Proceed with mild enthusiasm. 

Thanks for reading,

Peter Neal