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  Strange Hostel of Naked Pleasures Checking Out
Year: 1975
Director: José Mojica Marins, George Michel Serkeis
Stars: José Mojica Marins, Maria Aparecida, Marlene Carminhoto, José Claudino, Margareth Delta, Edward Freund, Silvia Gless, Benedito Lara, Rosângela Maldonado, Daniel Perez, Zulmira Pinheiro, Satã, George Michel Serkeis, Teresa Sodré
Genre: Horror, Trash, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: There is a ritual going on, with men bashing tom-toms and scantily clad women appearing from nowhere to gyrate as if in a trance, summoning up the spirit of Coffin Joe (José Mojica Marins). Also present are men adorned with masks to make them look elderly, complete with fake gorilla chests and one with his arse on backwards, who all cower in the presence of the dancers and, belatedly showing up, the spectre of death itself. With everyone's attention focused on a coffin that has been brought in, the result is that Coffin Joe is resurrected - what is he planning?

Marins here handed most of the directorial duties to George Michel Serkeis for Strange Hostel of Naked Pleasures, or Fracasso de Um Homem nas Duas Noites de Núpcias if you were Brazilian, but you wouldn't really notice the difference if you were familiar with Marins' customary brand of cinematic oddities. This was very much business as usual for the cult filmmaker, although if anything there was even less plot than before, with the first fifteen minutes taken up with resurrecting Joe and then, once the opening credits are over, listening to him rhapsodise about the universe, eternity, the limits of life and the infinite nature of death.

The usual, basically, and delivered with Marins' typical pretensions so that it may be that only he truly knows precisely what it is he is going on about. But once we have been treated to a few cosmic images such as a well-used collection of asteroids spinning against a backdrop of recognisable astronomical pictures, the story manages to get underway. Joe is in an alternate guise here, which basically means he has a different hat on, and is posing as a hotelier where he has been hiring staff for his latest enterprise, although his interview technique is unusual. Once he has his employees to see to the operations of the hostel of the title, he can begin welcoming the guests.

And what a motley collection of visitors he receives, from an adulterous couple and a group of gamblers to a whole biker gang who look more like hippies and are packed into one room. They are all looking to get out of the terrible storm, which seems to be prompting quite a few people to seek shelter, but the mysterious manager does not allow everyone in, turning some away in spite of the vacancies notice by the front door. Those who are rejected may not like being left out in the rain, but they don't know the lucky escape they have just had as entrance to the hotel is actually a pretty good way of signing your death warrant, especially if you are in any way a sinner of some sort or other.

This makes the film sound more coherent than it actually is, but you do get the gist of it, that those admitted to the hotel are to be punished for their misdemeanours, and so it is that as the manager sits at the front desk treating us to sinister closeups of his eyes and the like, the mood of hallucination intensifies. The colours are certainly bright, and the fast editing works towards a feeling of delirium, but there's not much to this other than the barrage of crazy shots of, say, the bikers stripping off or the adulterous couple canoodling on their bed, many of them repeated over and over again. Therefore you pretty much get the idea after half an hour, and are merely sitting out the weirdness to see what happens to the guests, which is not good as it turns out. It's not tedious, it has visual imagination, it's simply threadbare in the story department. Music by Alfredo Scarlatti Júnior.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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