When I hear that Klaus Kinski is in a movie I expect him to be the focus of the movie in some way, and while I can remember clearly seeing his face many times throughout the Slaughter Hotel he isn’t the star. The star? Super sexy bodies. Slaughter Hotel is not a creepy picture or a scary horror movie. It is a seductive tease or at its best an erotic nightmare complete with fascinating score and plenty of filler between the bodies (the filler being dialogue of course). Fernando Di Leo creates another visually interesting piece of early 70’s cinema that is macabre but not terrifying. I’m more familiar with De Leo’s western and crime wave work, but he certainly can put together a competent thriller. Raro Video offers a new HD transfer of this under appreciated 70’s scare sex flick.
Sure there’s gore, but not as you would know it today. It isn’t Blood Feast from the 60’s and it certainly epitomizes what would become quite common in the foreign horror market screened on 42nd Street. It’s actually more daring in its depiction of graphic sexual exploits than it is in its gore sequences. Perhaps the most misleading feature of this movie is that it takes place in an asylum. Asylum or mental institution feel like a very loose ascription to the actual setting in the movie. It is certainly more frightening to say that a killer wanders the halls of a looney bin or a crazy house, but let’s face it, Slaughter Hotel is just that… more of a hotel or a resort or a sanitarium. The picture could use more grit and grime to go along with its more alluring bits.
The cover art on the Blu-ray itself features a still from the movie and the slip cover and booklet inside feature a more traditional Giallo eseque poster cover. The whole thing screams of Bava from the killer to the shot set up and the choice of color palate. The cloaked killer complete with mask reminds me of a trench-coated, fedora wearing masked man in Blood and Black Lace. Sure it’s a common trope circe 1970, but I can think of no more fitting tribute to Bava’s classic than to emulate his work.
Rosalba Neri and Klaus Kinski are the two names with which I am most familiar though as previously stated, I think Kinski is underused. Neri on the other is not underused and is a pleasure to watch on screen. It’s a skin fest so you can either look for daring, heartfelt performances or you can be realistic and realize that this is trash cinema, done to perfection and made to create a feeling of near surreal visual intoxication using the female form, some red paint and some daring faces.
The booklet that accompanies the release is written by Chris Alexander. As many of you know I love his commentaries, introductions and brief essays especially on Raro releases. Best quote of the booklet, “The plot, such as it is, involves this bevy of lonely disturbed ladies, laying around masturbating (in ultra close up on many occasions, with spread labia’s [sic] that most assuredly belong to stunt vaginas)”. Stunt vaginas. I need to remember that term for my Vinegar Syndrome reviews. Also I always thought the plural of vagina was vagina (not vaginas), but I will use my poetic license with genitalia as I see fit.
Extras include Lady Frankenstein’s Memoirs, Asylum of Fear, Deleted Scenes, the aforementioned booklet, new and improved English subtitle translation (if you’re reading the subtitles you’ve missed the point of the movie) and a trailer. It’s a new HD transfer from the original 35mm negative. 2.35:1 AR.
I had a very strange connection with Slaughter Hotel, one that may not feel all at once obvious. I felt like I was watching Carnival of Souls, in color with proactive shots and scantily clad actress in place of dark, contrasty specters. Do not expect to be scared. Do expect to be seduced. Bring tissues and an open mind to this artsy skin flick. After reading Chris Alexander’s essay, I realized that this would be something akin to a Jess Franco or Jean Rollin picture only Italian instead of Spanish or French. The difference being that it isn’t as fancy as a Rollin picture, not as pretty. It isn’t as obvious or schlocky as a Franco sleazer. It’s somewhere in the middle.
You can order Slaughter Hotel now from Raro Video.
Synopsis from Raro:
The longer exclusive uncut version of this movie, that we have released, has no audio in some very short segments of the English dubbed version-not due to a technical problem, but because we used a master that had scenes that were never used in previous releases and/or screenings. We, at Raro, decided to add some of these parts as extras in the special features. But, in order to give you access to this rare and longer uncut version, we left some short silent scenes in the English dubbed version.