Slaughter Hotel (1968)

How can you pass up an Italian Giallo written and directed by the man whose pen ignited the spaghetti western genre with his screenplays for Clint Eastwood’s A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More?

How about if that film starred Klaus Kinski?

Yeah, I knew that get your attention. But we’re all horny here, so you also get Margaret Lee from Double Face, Dick Smart 2.007 and Special Agent Super Dragon, and Lady Frankenstein herself, Rosabla Neri. (Huba-huba! Schwing!)

Fernando Di Leo’s original goal was to transition out of westerns into his preferred genre of film noir. But as the black-and-white film noir of old already gave way to the yellow blood of new, Di Leo ended up writing and directing this giallo about a cowl and caped murder stalking the wealthy female inmates of a sanitarium.

Of course, all of the women are diagnosed as nymphomaniacs (and in need of a triangle-of-death shave . . . if you know what I mean), so they’re seducing the staff—everyone from the isolated villa’s gardener to the doctors. And since we’re in a remote medieval villa converted into a hospital, the joint is well-stocked with weapons of mass giallo on the walls and along the hallways. And the heads fly by scythe, bodies are impaled by iron maiden, and nurses are hacked to pieces by axe, by mace, by bow-and-arrow, and bye-bye in quick succession.

In between the blood baths, there’s plenty o’ soft core red herrings of the lesbian interracial variety flipping and flopping; the women—as with all giallos—would turn a gay man straight and leave a straight man shriveled. Are they all attired in designer sun dresses, pant suits and chunky heels—running around in the grass? Of course they are! (Hey, Paul Naschy!) And did you know any variety of phobias can be cured with a nude massage of one’s butt cheeks? That a nurse bubble-bathing a female patient is just what the doctor ordered?

This was known in its homeland as The Beast Kills in Cold Blood, aka Cold Blooded Beast. But once the U.S distributors Hallmark Releasing and American International Pictures took their puritanical scissors to it, it was retitled as Asylum Erotica and Slaughter Hotel to play as the undercard on numerous Drive-In triple bills until the late-70s. The most explicit and obscure cut—The Dissatisfied Erotic Dolls of Dr. Hitchcock—was a bogus attempt to market it as a sequel to Riccardo Freda’s 1962 burgeoning giallo The Horrible Doctor Hitchcock—and features even more sexually explicit scenes added after the fact (as if it need more?).

If Di Leo stuck to the genre, today he’d be revered as Argento and Bava: the cinematography is lush, the shots are imaginative, and the soundtrack is acid trip, nausea-inducing top notch. And Di Leo certainly knows how to put the “sleaze” in Eurosleaze with those multiple, long and lingering triangle of death shots. And the “artsy” Richard Speck-style slaughter at the end has to be seen to be believed. Yikies.

If you want this on DVD for your collection, your best bet is to go with the uncut, Italian subtitled (or dubbed; it’s well done) version that runs at 97 minutes—and avoid the 74-minute U.S. versions at all costs. The even dirtier “Dr. Hitchcock” version is all but lost. You can watch a really clean print of the 97-minute version for free as an age-restricted stream (you’ll have to sign in) on You Tube. To say it’s X-Rated is an understatement. But the Italians made this—so it’s “art.”

About the Author: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

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