Director Fernando Di Leo was no stranger to violence with the Italian western and crime films he had helmed, and the horrific SLAUGHTER HOTEL relies on this, and more so on sex as its entire reason for being. It's a shining example of ultra gratuitous sleaze carrying a giallo of the most uncomplicated kind. Originally released in Europe as "The Beast Kills in Cold Blood and "The Cold-Blooded Beast" (the actual on-screen title here), it was unleashed to U.S. drive-ins and grindhouses in 1973 (by Hallmark/AIP) in various truncated versions and played as both SLAUGHTER HOTEL (ballyhooing the horror) and ASYLUM EROTICA (ballyhooing the sex). The U.S. ad campaign also attempted to cash in on real-life serial killer Richard Speck with taglines like, "The Slasher Massacre of Eight Innocent Nurses!"
The "hotel" of the title is actually a fancy insane asylum which actually looks more like a castle resort furnished with medieval torture devices. All of the inhabitants are attractive, wealthy women, some with homicidal tendencies, and some who just lean towards the perverse side. Rosalba Neri (aka Sara Bay) plays a confirmed nymphomaniac with an incestial history, and is nude much of the time, being forced to take a cold shower, and later seducing the gardener, as well as attempting to do likewise to the film's murdering phantom!
The murderer is a hooded figure who leers at the women in their various states of bedroom lesbianism or masturbation. Beautiful Margaret Lee is a married business owner who flirts with the sympathetic Dr. Keller--a longhaired Klaus Kinski--who despite his billing, doesn't do much but smoke cigarettes, and has his voice dubbed by another actor. Lee is presented as a normal inmate, but is still seen writhing in her bed with her clothes off. An older doctor is played by character favorite and still-active John Karlsen (THE SHE BEAST) and Monica Strebel is a nurse sexually fascinated with inmate Jane Garret, allowing for some of the film's softcore scenes and voyeuristic padding. The climax is bloody, maniacal and straight to the point. SLAUGHTER HOTEL is meaningless Euro trash that fans seem to sit on the fence on about, but it definitely contains all the sensational ingredients to warrant such a reputation.
Shriek Show/Media Blasters has presented SLAUGHTER HOTEL on DVD in a longer European version, as various video versions from different countries are either edited, include alternate scenes, or contain less sex and violence. Running 96 minutes, this racier version is presented in its original 2.35:1 Techniscope aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement. The picture is a pretty one, with bright, distinct colors and very little in terms of grain and print damage. The English-dubbed mono audio has a fair share of very loud cracks and pops, but the disc's main flaw occurs with a segment of misplaced audio. During a key murder sequence, unmatching audio is heard, and then is played where it should be in the following scene. Other than this flub, the transfer is very pleasing. Also note that the disc's time encoding will not display on some players.
The main extra here is a video
interview with director Di Leo, and its inclusion is valuable since he sadly
passed away recently. Di Leo (speaking in Italian with English subtitles) mentions
that SLAUGHTER HOTEL is not his favorite work, but he's very happy at its fanbase.
He also tells a great story on how Kinski was not paid a lot but still easy
to work with and actually tipped the crew on the final day of shooting(!), and
that he recommended him for some major film roles in his career. There is also
an alternate Rosalba Neri bedroom scene (which doesn't amount to much), a skimpy
still gallery which resorts to a sexy magazine layout of Margaret Lee and shots
of Neri in THE DEVIL'S WEDDING NIGHT, the original European trailer, and trailers
for other Media Blasters releases. (George R. Reis)
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