• Cold Blooded Beast (Slaughter Hotel)

    Released by: 88 Films
    Released on: July 24th, 2017.
    Director: Fernando Di Leo
    Cast: Klaus Kinski, Rosalba Neri, Margaret Lee, John Karlsen, Monica Stroebel
    Year: 1971
    Purchase From Diabolik DVD

    The Movie:

    Written and directed by Fernando Di Leo, a man better known for his hard hitting crime films than horror pictures, 1971’s Slaughter Hotel (also known as Asylum Erotica and Cold Blooded Beast) begins with a long lingering shot of a mental hospital in a remote countryside. The sun has set and we see a shadowy figure make his way towards and then into the building. As we prowl around we learn that this is actually a hospital for deranged woman and that puzzlingly, it’s full of medieval weapons and torture devices.

    Note that some of the screen caps 'below the fold' are not safe for work! Scroll with caution...

    The place is run by Professor Osterman (John Karlsen) but a doctor in his employ named Francis Clay (Klaus Kinski) seems more up to date on what’s going on. Locked away in the hospital are a few beautiful women – a nymphomaniac named Anne Palmieri (Rosalba Neri), a woman named Cheryl Hume (Margaret Lee) who has a thing with Clay and an extreme introvert named Mara (Jane Garrett). There’s also a lesbian nurse named Helen (Monica Stroebel), a randy gardener and… a killer, that shadowy figure we saw in the opening scene. After the first body is found those with the authority call in the cops but of course, the cops aren’t going to be much help. As the ladies all bump and grind, sometimes on their own, sometimes with a gardener and sometimes together, the bodies pile up… who will survive and who could possibly be the killer?

    Slaughter Hotel is a pretty ridiculous film, a picture ripe with plot holes and logic gaps, the kind of movie where an officiating doctor’s therapy to a nymphomaniac patient is to ‘go have a cold shower!’ If you’re able to turn off your brain and enjoy this one for the sleazy slice of entertainment that it is, however, the movie is a lot of fun. The female cast members, each and every one just as fetching as the next, are frequently in states of undress and some involved in some fairly explicit scenes of self-gratification (though it would seem that body doubles were used for the spread eagle/wide-open hoo-haw close up shots!) – always fun to watch, right? There’s a good amount of nasty violence here too, be it a slow, lingering and completely misogynist moment in which our mysterious killer rubs a bloody axe slowly down the naked torso of a patient to then pull down her knickers or one of a few gory slasher-style murder set pieces.

    As far as the cast go, Neri steals the show. She gets a lot of screen time here and she really smolders on screen. Margaret Lee is fun to watch here too, as are the rest of the ladies. They all over act throughout the movie but it’s hard to say how much of that is their fault versus how much of that is due to the dubbing. Speaking of dubbing, Klaus Kinski gets a good roll here too, wandering the halls looking as pompous as pompous can be, but he’s dubbed by someone with a really inappropriate voice in the English version and an only slightly less inappropriate voice in the Italian version. It’s fun to watch him strut around in that way that only Klaus Kinski could.

    Ultimately, this isn’t much of a giallo in that it doesn’t offer up a whole lot of mystery or suspense, but it’s a fun and stylish mix of awesome sex and violence, a cool cast, a bizarre central location and some creative kills.

    Note: The version of the movie is about as complete as it’s likely to get and for that reason, 88 Films has had to use inserts from a few different sources to create what is basically a composite. The excised material that was included in the supplemental section of the North American version has been put back into the film (including the graphic masturbation footage – NSFW at all!) for this release which would appear to be the longest cut of the film currently available.


    88 Films brings the film to Blu-ray framed at 2.30.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. While this transfer would appear to use the same source as the North American Blu-ray release from Raro reviewed here, there are noticeable differences between the two discs in the video quality department. Not only does it show a bit more information in the frame and feature better compression (the occasional macroblocking that appeared on the Raro disc is not present here), but the image looks sharper, less smeary in spots than the older disc (which could be a matter of less DNR having been applied). Some minor black crush and video noise that was presumably baked into the master remains, but this is a definite improvement in the picture quality department. If you click on the link noted above and compare those image caps to the ones in this review, you’ll notice it. When the film switches over to the parts sourced from the inserts, there is a noticeable drop in quality (click here – kind NSFW) – which is understandable, but should still be pointed out.

    A few quick comparison shots between the 88 Films disc (top) and the Raro disc (bottom):

    The 88 Films version runs 1:36:41 and takes up 20.5GBs on a 50GB disc.

    The Raro Films version runs 1:34:07 and takes up 21.7 GBs on a 25GB disc.

    The Raro disc offered English and Italian language DTS-HD tracks but had two scenes on the disc that were presented without audio if you chose to watch the English version, as English audio was never recorded for those scenes. The only audio option on the 88 Films disc is an LPCM Mono track in English, although there are parts of the film that were never dubbed into English. These moments play out with either Italian or German language audio, depending on which source was used, and when they occur the English subtitles appear automatically. For the most part, the audio quality here is fine. Dialogue is easy enough to understand and the levels are nicely balanced. Some occasional, minor hiss does creep into the mix here and there but it’s not particularly distracting.

    Extras start off with a commentary track featuring Mondo Digital’s Nathanial Thompson. There’s lots of talk here about what Di Leo brought to the picture as a director, plenty of background information on the cast and crew with some emphasis on Neri and Kinski, discussion of the locations, the score, the cinematography and quite a bit more. He also does a nice job of breaking down the film’s history and explaining the differences between the various cuts – it’s an interesting talk, quite informative.

    From there we get a thirteen minute long interview with actress Rosalba Neri in which she gives us a quick rundown of some of her earlier parts before then talking about collaborating with Di Leo on this film, what was required of her during the shoot, and how a double was used for the hardcore scenes that appear in some of the alternate footage shot for the picture. A second interview, running sixteen minutes, gets script supervisor Silvia Petroni in front of the camera for a bit to discuss some of the editing practices employed in the industry at the time, her thoughts on working with Di Leo and more.

    Rounding out the extras are a theatrical trailer for the feature, alternate English language opening and closing credits sequences, menus and chapter selection. 88 Films has also packaged this release with some reversible cover sleeve art and the first pressing comes with a limited edition slipcover.

    The Final Word:

    Slaughter Hotel isn’t a top tier giallo but it is relentlessly entertaining picture that doubles down on sex and violence and which features some slick camerawork, a great central location and a fun cast. It’s probably not the movie Di Leo would want to be remembered for nor is it one of his better films, but it’s definitely a fun watch. 88 Films’ Blu-ray release offers some noteworthy improvements over the domestic Raro Blu-ray and it comes recommended.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!