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directed by: Fernando Di Leo
starring: Klaus Kinski, Margaret Lee, Rosalba Neri, Jane Garret, John Karlsen, John Ely, Fernando Cerulli, Gioia Desideri, Marco Mariani, Sandro Rossi, Monica Strebel

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From the maestro of mayhem, Fernando Di Leo (RULERS OF THE CITY, MANHUNT) comes one of the sleaziest and nastiest slasher films ever made! Starring Klaus Kinski (Herzog's NOSFERATU,) and two of Europe's most sizzling cinematic sex queens- Margaret Lee (Ricardo Treda's DOUBLE FACE, Jess Franco's VENUS IN FURS, PSYCHO-CIRCUS), Rosabela Neri (LADY FRANKENSTEIN, DEVIL'S WEDDING NIGHT, THE ARENA with Pam Grier). An axe-wielding maniac stalks the beautiful, scantily-clad women of an upscale sanitarium, all under the watchful eye of the mysterious Dr. Keller (Klaus Kinski). Equal and excessive doses of slash and skin make for a very European-style of grindhouse entertainment! They just don't 'em like this anymore!"

choice dialogue:

"I'm so lonely. In the meantime I have to go on living here, shut up with a bunch of real weirdo's!"

Nymphomaniac Anne makes a bid for freedom.

slash with panache?

[review by Justin Kerswell]

It's easy to forget, sometimes, in this post-modern age, just how much of a change genre cinema went through in the 1970's. Taboo's were busted and barriers broken down as film makers vied to outdo each other in the graphic horror stakes, culminating in the gross-out horrors of Lucio Fulci and Joe D'Amato in the early 1980's. Fernando Di Leo, however, was keen to push the boundaries in a different way in perhaps his most infamous film, SLAUGHTER HOTEL.

The eponymous residence is a high class sanitarium located in an isolated chateau, where the only patients, it seems, are beautiful scantily clad Euro-babes. It's run by a constipated looking Professor Dorian (John Karlsen) and Dr. Clay, a furtive but curiously restrained performance by European art cinema's enfant-terrible Klaus Kinski. Not much in the way of treatment seems to be going on here, apart from rigorous croquet therapy and a spot of enthusiastic buttock massaging!

Chief amongst the beautiful inmates is the simply stunning Rosabela Neri, who here plays Ann, an uncontrollable nymphomaniac and suicide risk, who has been driven to her malaise by her brother's refusal to carry on with the sexual relationship they had when they were children (I think you can kind of get an idea of where this one is going). Insisting she's well she hollers at Professor Dorian, “I just want to make love. That's all. Make love!”; he just tells her to go and have a shower. When she's not trying to seduce everyone from the guards to the gardener, she takes to what seems like the numero-uno pastime at the chateau, indulging in languid self-abuse amongst the sheets.

There's also the slightly boss-eyed blonde (Gioia Desideri), who looks like she's smuggled in a couple of hirsute tarantulas attached to her eyelids. Her husband is taking her to the sanitarium after bouts of dramatic mischief making, including grabbing at the wheel of the car and trying to collide with an on coming truck, an incident that illicits an overly reasonable, “Killing me is one thing, but why commit suicide?”. She tries to explain, “I'm sorry, I can never remember anything in those dreadful moments”. Not having any of it, he drops her off and speeds away in his sports car. However, within seconds of being at the chateau she picks up a log and tries to brain a doctor with it; again, rather reasonably considering the circumstances, he suggests maybe she just needs a nice long lie down.

Another glamorous inmate is Claire (Jane Garret), the pouty daughter of a rich ambassador who's unsure how long she's been there. A kindly nurse, Hilde (a foxy turn by Monica Strebel), reassures her, in what must be one of the all-time great mental health breakthroughs, “You look much more relaxed ... and attractive”. It soon turns out that Nurse Hilde's attentions aren't purely professional when she insists on taking over from another nurse during Claire's daily buttock massage. Then she pushes the boundaries of the duty-of-care to the very limits when she gives Claire a soapy rub down in the bath, which illicit's a rapturous “How marvelous!” when the loofah travels south (although, curiously, Claire insists on lathering her breasts herself). As Claire dries herself off, Hilde indulges in a spot of explicit gusset typing, which goes on so long I half wondered if she could have tapped out a novella and half a phone directory. This is followed by a bout of exotic, and naturally erotic, tribal dancing.

The last inmate of any note is Cheryl, a rather languid performance from Margaret Lee, who had been put into the sanitarium by her husband to cure her of her suicidal urges. She is practically cured, but Dr. Clay is reluctant to see her go as a burgeoning romance between them is in the offing. Cheryl seems positively virtuous compared to all the other strumpet at the chateau, as she spends practically the whole film wrapped head-to-foot in a rather unflattering crushed blue velvet number that must have seemed all the rage in 1971. I say seems because in the film's opening scenes she too was writhing in her sheets, kicking her legs akimbo, ostensibly because she was suffering a bad dream. Now, this scene is of note because it is here we get to see the killer for the first time (had you forgotten this was a giallo?!), when a masked figure in a long black cloak skulks around in the shadows. SLAUGHTER HOTEL is infamous for a number of reasons, not least of which that it features one of the few mental health facilities that carries a full armory! On the wall of the communal sitting room is every medieval weapon any homicidal maniac could dream of, just hanging there for the plucking – and, as a special bonus, there's an iron maiden to skewer a hapless passerby. ... However, luckily for Cheryl she manages to free one hand long enough away from her nether-regions to ring for room service, and avoids her would be assassin's big chopper.

It's debatable whether Di Leo was really alluding to the infamous Richard Speck - who killed a group of student nurses in Chicago, in 1966 - when the killer, in SLAUGHTER HOTEL, is finally unmasked and kills a group of the sanatorium's nurses in a final bloody frenzy. However, the U.S. ad campaign undeniably attempted to tastelessly cash in on real-life killings with taglines like, "The Slasher Massacre of Eight Innocent Nurses!"

Ultimately, if you're looking for a giallo chock full of thrills then I'd give SLAUGHTER HOTEL a wide berth, but if you have an appetite for Euro-sleaze and trashy excess then you really can't do much better.


BODYCOUNT 13  bodycount!   female:9 / male:4

       1) Female decapitated with scythe
       2) Female strangled
       3) Male forced into an iron maiden
       4) Female hacked to death with an axe
       5) Female shot through the neck with an arrow
       6) Male bashed with mace
       7) Male bashed with mace
       8) Female bashed on the head with mace
     10) Female bashed with mace
     11) Female bashed with mace
     12) Female bashed with mace
     13) Female bashed with mace
     14) Female bashed with mace