Thursday, July 16, 2015

Italian Exploitation Month, Horror Thursdays: Slaughter Hotel (1971)

            Fernando Di Leo does giallo...

            Slaughter Hotel is an odd beast of a movie, something of a softcore thriller mixed with the hardcore violence of the giallos. Fernando Di Leo first found success with his earlier erotic drama Brucia, Ragazzo, Brucia, and here he continues down that same path with this tale of subjugated women committed to an old medieval castle-cum-resort for the mentally-unwell. The principals consist of four women committed to the home for reasons ranging from to suicide attempts to lesbianism to nymphomania, although as the film goes on we learn that some of the women's behavior is exaggerated by the men who've committed them... giving the film a chance to be a sly commentary on how men try to control women's sexuality.

            But it's really just an excuse to show the actresses naked as early and often as possible, which Di Leo's camera lingering on the naughty bits, with a handful of quite explicit masturbation scenes. The leading ladies are all effective in their roles (especially a smoldering Rosalba Neri), but many of them are killed off in such a hurry that the film loses sight of their otherwise fascinating development. The story and characters are all rather intriguing, but they're of secondary importance to the sleaze. The movie is exploitative in the truest sense, existing only for the women to show a bit of skin and then have them all picked off one-by-one in increasingly sadistic ways via various medieval devices (and, as a side-note, how wise is it to commit suicidal and possibly-violent women to a ancient castle filled with weaponry and implements of torture?). Adding to the sleaze factor is the presence of Klaus Kinski, who just looks like he's up to no good no matter what, although the film provides him with an uncharacteristically heroic turn.

            Whether successful as a social commentary on gender politics or not, Slaughter Hotel is exceptional in how sensationally sleazy it is.

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