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  Cold-Blooded Beast Insane-itariumBuy this film here.
Year: 1971
Director: Fernando Di Leo
Stars: Klaus Kinski, Margaret Lee, Rosalba Neri, Jane Garret, John Karlsen, Gioia Desideri, Giangiacoma Elia, Fernando Cerulli, Sandro Rossi, Giulio Baraghini, Ettore Geri, Antonio Radaelli, Monica Strebel, Carla Mancini, Franco Marletta, Pietri Nistri
Genre: Horror, Sex, Thriller, Trash
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: There is this medieval castle that has been converted in modern times into a rest home for mentally unstable women, staffed with medical practitioners who see to it that the patients are kept calm and on the road to recovery. However, last night before a new arrival there was a black-clad, cloaked figure stalking the grounds of the building who entered by a side door and began to wander the corridors until he settled on a room that contained the castle's original tenants' weaponry and torture devices, such as a mace, an axe and an iron maiden. He selected an axe and went upstairs to spy on a sleeping, nude woman, Anne (Rosalba Neri), there for treatment for nymphomania...

Oh, a nymphomaniac in an Italian giallo! Will there by any chance be a lesbian as well? Cold-Blooded Beast, or La bestia uccide a sangue freddo as it was originally known, was better known in some territories as Slaughter Hotel, but the most complete version out of a selection of cuts of varying intensity, was called by that first name. There was a French version which had the most sexually explicit sequences and that eventually became the default edit that proved most popular, not really that surprising, but watching it did come across as if director Fernando Di Leo had had his heart set on making a pornographic movie and all the murderer thriller business was a distraction.

In fact, some aficionados questioned whether this could genuinely be classed as a giallo, or if it was merely a cross between what slasher movies would become and where softcore was at in the Italy of the nineteen-seventies. However, the presence of a masked killer and glamorous ladies among his victims probably settled the matter: this was a giallo after all, borderline perhaps, but the hallmarks were present however swamped they were in the other bits of business Di Leo included. He admitted he was none too keen on this effort, and indeed proved shortly after to be far more adept at crime thrillers, or polizzioteschi as they became known as in his native land: this was assuredly not that.

The cast had some interesting names, not only Neri who was proving popular on the Continent in movies where she was required to be parted from her clothes, and here stuck with a stereotype nympho role where the only element of character development when she wasn't pursuing the male staff was a scene where she discusses her condition with her brother and we realise she was rather closer to him than was healthy, in spite of him rejecting her advances. This sort of perversion was equated with the lesbians, an African lady (Jane Garret in her sole film) who is seduced by a massage-happy nurse (Monica Strebel), which apart from being a serious breach of professional confidence was at least presented as satisfying to both parties (they even had a dance together to "African" music).

Nevertheless, homosexual women in giallos were there to be punished, so after a long wait for something to happen that was relevant to the thriller plot, a nurse is beheaded with a scythe (then promptly forgotten about) and the murders begin, leaving us in no doubt why we have spent so long with certain patients when they will be bumped off sooner or later. The prime suspect to anyone with experience of this genre had to be resident doctor Klaus Kinski, that perennial bad guy (in real life as well as the movies) who was either being set up as a major red herring or was the culprit all along, either way the ending would be difficult to second guess, which one supposes was a point in the film's favour. But this was rote stuff even with the sexual angle, doing little novel with what had already become clich├ęs in a very exacting style of chiller, and with a pace that did not so much build to a crescendo as wind down with a massacre, if you can imagine that concept. Music by Silvano Spadaccino.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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