Italy: Fernando Di Leo, 1971
A hooded assassin armed with an axe is trawling the corridors of a mental asylum for troubled (not to mention oversexed) women located somewhere in the countryside. It’s the sort of asylum that’s run by the shifty-eyed Klaus Kinski and stocked will all manner of medieval weaponry. The sort of asylum where the curvaceous inmates sleep in the nude with their bedroom doors wide open and the lights on full blast - in other words, the usual kind. Who could it be? (Hint: it’s not Klaus Kinski.)
There are some interesting colour-tinted opening titles which introduce the key cast members. These remind me somewhat od the opening titles for Zimmer 13, and manage to be quite atmospheric, suggesting that the film which follows them will be of a similar standard. Unfortunately, Slaughter Hotel turns out to be a flatly shot and annoyingly ludicrous affair, combining elements of the giallo with soft-core (and even, at times, borderline hard-core) pornography, neither to good effect. With its theme of insanity and its attempts to marry the modernism of the giallo with a gothic aesthetic, it recalls Emilio Miraglia’s considerably more effective (although still deeply flawed) The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave, but here any attempts to develop an engaging plot fail miserably and are jettisoned in favour of scene after scene of sex and/or bloodletting.
What’s surprising is that all of this could have been pretty entertaining in a “so bad it’s good way”, but the film kills any potential for this by moving at a snail’s pace and generally dragging out each scene well after its limited potential has been exhausted. There’s nothing particularly appealing about an ineptly-staged lesbian scene between two uncomfortable-looking actresses going on for minute after minute. The characters themselves are not particularly interesting, although the various “cures” suggested for the inmates’ “ailments” should raise an eyebrow or two - Rosalba Neri’s character, committed, it would seem, because she likes having sex, is immediately ordered to take a shower, an act which has the effect of causing her to writhe about orgasmically and rub herself against the walls (this particular act is set to some amusingly sinister music courtesy of Silvano Spadaccino, whose score is, for the most part, dull and uninteresting).
This is ultimately the sort of giallo that makes Strip Nude For Your Killer look well-made and intelligently scripted. As a murder mystery it fails to work, and as a slice of cult sleaze it’s hardly any more effective. I’m just slightly surprised that such a sexually explicit giallo was made as early as 1971 - I’d previously assumed that this particular trend didn’t emerge until closer to the middle of the decade. In the end, it’s all very silly but also rather boring. Deep Red this ain’t. 2/10