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October 24, 2013

The Italian Horror Blogathon: Slaughter Hotel

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La bestia uccide a sangue freddo / Cold Blooded Beast
Fernando Di Leo - 1971
Shriek Show Region 1 DVD

"This is the work of a psychopathic killer!". Amazingly, this pronouncement comes from the chief shrink at the psychiatric ward where the film takes place. There are some crazy things that happen, first being that a misleading English title was slapped on a story that takes place in a "rest home" for depressed or suicidal woman who just also happen to be wealthy and beautiful. Even crazier is that the people who run this joint allow the patients easy access to a collection of medieval devices such as swords, a crossbow and an iron maiden.

Slaughter Hotel might be charitably described as a giallo for people who don't like getting scared. There's a black cloaked killer wandering around this large chateau, checking out potential victims in their respective bedrooms. There isn't that much suspense. Di Leo's reputation largely rests on his series of police thrillers, and the best scene is when the cops shoot the killer at the end of the film. A white wall is splattered with drops of blood, while the killer is punctured with bullet holes. Di Leo cuts between close ups of the smoking guns and the smoked body. Some filmmakers are at their best treading familiar territory.

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Of course there are expectations when a movie stars Jess Franco repertory players Klaus Kinski and Margaret Lee. Di Leo almost gives Franco a run for his money with the abundant nudity here. The best excuse to see Slaughter Hotel is to bask in the glory that is Rosalba Neri. Whether trying to seduce the gardner, or writhing around naked on her bed, this is the film that should answer the questions pertaining to her most intimate body parts.

Coming up close is Monica Strebel as a nurse with a bedside manner, providing hands on therapy for patient Jane Garrett. Again, I got the feeling that Di Leo and his actresses were awkwardly trying to mimic the kind of action that seems to come naturally in a film by Franco. The pair do a little dance scene together. It's probably just as well that Di Leo never attempted to make a musical.

Slaughter Hotel would probably best be appreciated by Di Leo completists more than giallo fans. The DVD includes a short interview where Di Leo even admits that this was not one of his favorite films or that he can make any claim about originality. He does, however, have very kind words about Klaus Kinski. For myself, I doubt I'll ever forget that close up of Rosalba Neri's beautiful, well rounded ass.

There's always room for giallo, and more Italian horror, hosted by Kevin Olson at Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies.

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Posted by Peter Nellhaus at October 24, 2013 08:31 AM