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Slaughter Hotel (1971)
Blu-ray Disc Released: 12/9/2014
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 12/3/2014
In the past, I've written about how I'm not a fan of movie's being advertised as "From a Producer of ______" or even worse, "From the Studio that Brought You ______". Both of those statements are woefully vague, and despite their purpose, in no way can they guarantee that the new movie being advertised will be similar in quality or content of that previous film that is name-dropped. However, I must admit that I am guilty of falling into a comparable trap when it comes to home video companies. Recently, Raro Video has provided a string of Euro-horror films which were quirky and fun. Murder Obsession, Nightmare City, and Werewolf Woman don't meet the classic criteria of being "good" movies, but they were certainly memorable. Therefore, I want all releases from Raro to offer this same kind of entertainment. The newly released Slaughter Hotel proves that no one is perfect.
Professor Osterman (John Karlsen) runs an exclusive psychiatric treatment facility which caters only to women. Set in an old castle, the clinic provides a place for ladies who have had serious breakdowns, including suicide attempts, to rest and recuperate. The patients enjoy croquet on the lawn and receive round-the-clock nursing care. Along with Osterman, Dr. Francis Clay (Klaus Kinski) tends to the patients. This serene environment is disturbed when a masked killer enters the hospital and begins to kill the patients. Who is this person and why are they murdering the women?
I really wish that I could have written a longer synopsis for Slaughter Hotel, but that's really all that there is to the movie. While there are several patients in the building, we only get to know three: Cheryl (Margaret Lee), who tried to kill herself; Anne (Rosalba Neri), a nymphomaniac; and Mara (Jane Garret), an agoraphobic. And when I say "get to know", I mean that we learn their diagnoses and hear them speak briefly about their issues. Cheryl has a crush on Dr. Clay. Mara is constantly hit on by Nurse Hilde (Monica Strebel). Anne tries to have sex with any male. A killer wearing a mask and a cape shows up and begins to kill people. That is the entire story. When the killer is unmasked, the motive is weak, even by Giallo standards.
Here's a breakdown of the film: There's no dialogue for the first 10 minutes, over 2 minutes of which is the opening credits. It takes 33-minutes for the first murder to occur and then there's not another killing until the 1:10-mark. Following that, there's several more murders, but I'm not sure if I would qualify it as a "slaughter". The bulk of the movie encompasses shots of the patients and nurses playing croquet, or moments where everyone stands around talking. There are also numerous shots of Klaus Kinski smoking. He had made many movies by that point in his career, so I assume that he was a selling point in Europe. Did he know that he would do nothing in the movie? Once you get beyond any other pretenses, it become clear that Slaughter Hotel's sole purpose is simply to show scantily-clothed women rolling around in their beds. Clearly pajamas weren't mandatory in the clinic and no one slept very well. (This version contains some decidedly risque shots which no doubt weren't in the cut originally shown in America.)
Slaughter Hotel finally reveals itself to be a movie which is equal parts boring and stupid. Let me get this straight, you have a clinic which treats suicidal patients and yet they are allowed to mingle in a room which contains a medieval arsenal? How does that make any sense? It also becomes very obvious that Director Fernando Di Leo was stretching whatever footage he had due to the fact that when a woman is about to be murdered, we are forced to relive what she had done previously in the movie. Is this meant to represent their lives flashing before their eyes, or is just bargain-basement filmmaking? While there are eventually murders, there is no gore here, as we just get flake blood (which looks like bubbling tomato soup in one shot) painted across bodies. We are also treated to dialogue like "Why can't you love me like you did when we were children?". Do what?
The 60s and 70s were littered with movies which were released and re-released under various titles and Slaughter Hotel is a great example. The Italian title translates as "The Beast Kills in Cold Blood". This makes more sense than Slaughter Hotel, as the establishment featured in the film is, in fact, not a hotel. At some point, the movie was known as "Asylum Erotica". Of all of the names, this one is actually the best, as it lets us know right away that the movie is much more interested in sex than anything else. Slaughter Hotel ends with the on-screen title "Fine". Trust me, I did not feel fine after sitting through this one.
Slaughter Hotel shows that you can apparently pay chauffeurs in alcohol on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Raro Video. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. You've got to hand it to Raro -- They blow away the competition when it comes to the presentation of older exploitation films. The image is very sharp and clear, showing only a hint of grain throughout and no overt defects from the source materials, save for some scant black dots. The colors look fantastic and the image is never overly dark or bright. This is one of those transfers which really shows off the rich colors which came from Eastman Color film. The picture has a pleasing amount of depth and the level of detail is notable. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 1.0 Mbps. The track provides fairly clear dialogue and sound effects. The score, which I found annoying, does sound a bit distorted at times, but I couldn't tell if that was related to this transfer. What I do know is that, for some reason, the audio drops out from the 1:17:00 mark until the 1:18:14 point. The subtitles continue showing the dialogue, but there is no sound. Speaking of the subtitles, there are many times when they only slightly reflect what is going on in the English audio track.
The Slaughter Hotel Blu-ray Disc contains three extra features. "Lady Frankenstein's Memoirs" (33 minutes) is an interview with Rosalba Neri. The title comes from her appearance in 1971's Lady Frankenstein. She discusses her career, starting with childhood, and goes through her introduction into the Italian film industry. While she does appear in Slaughter Hotel, this movie is certainly not the focus of the interview. She does talk specifically about the movie in "Asylum of Fear" (33 minutes) (which also would have been a good name for the movie) which also offers an interview with Director Fernando Di Leo, which is clearly archival, as he died in 2003. Di Leo admits that the movie is absurd, while Neri talks about her experiences working with the other actors. We also hear from Composer Silvano Spadaccino, who talks about the film's music. The Disc contains three DELETED SCENES which run about 2 minutes. These are more like deleted shots, and some of them are without sound.
Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long