Slaughter Hotel and the Condemnation of Self Expression

Slaughter Hotel is a Giallo film from 1971 that was directed by horror aficionado Fernando Di Leo which starred the ever handsome Klaus Kinski. However, unlike other roles that Kinski was famous for, he took a step back when it came to this particular gem where it was the women who were the scene-stealing focuses. Actresses Rosalba Neri, Monica Strebel, and Margaret Lee shine as they seduce both men and women, and provided the explicit content that shocked audiences across the globe.

Rosalba Neri plays Anna, a diagnosed nymphomaniac and patient at the resident sanatorium. Of the women being treated there, Anna stands out as being the only patient actively trying to be herself. Her fellow patients are all being treated for serious mental illnesses from suicide attempts and other depressive behavior, but Anna is the only character that is happy. As a nymphomaniac, and implications that she had an incestuous relationship with her brother years ago, Anna no doubt would find an easier life with treatment but that’s not what the doctors at the sanatorium prescribed.

Throughout the movie, the doctors, who are all men, seem to be preoccupied with the idea that they need to limit women. They don’t intend to improve their lives as long as their patients are as docile as possible for them to not commit their self-harming deeds. The only solace these women seek is a connection of intimacy that allows them to express something other than pain and loneliness. Anna, the queen of seduction, is the outlier and is constantly being hounded by the nurses and wrangled like cattle if she ever drifts too far away. For Anna, sex is an expression she identifies as love, friendship, and safety.

For most of the movie, the docile women wore clothes that are plain and colorful, easily forgettable. But for Anna, she stands out with her black outfit that is covered in ringlets across her body that evoke the image of a villainess being chained up. However, Anna has the power to take off her chains, or in this case her clothes, whenever she wants. In one scene, she pounces on the gardener, immediately discarding her chained outfit and being free. Her demeanor changed to one of confidence with power under her finger tips that would put sirens out at sea to shame. She can be free, if briefly, to express herself however she wants within the tiny world that is the sanatorium.

Unfortunately, a Giallo always comes back around towards tragedy even if it’s in the erotic section. One of Anna’s last moments is when she is asleep in bed, naked and masturbating in her sleep, until she is awoken by the killer. At first, she tries to seduce him, but then the axe comes down. With feral brutality, the axe is swung again and again with the killer letting out a heavy sultry pant with each swing of the blade and moving on to his next victim.

Other women were killed before and after Anna’s death. They were killed when they stepped out of line and showed interest in something, or someone, that they liked, loved, and could express for even a moment to get away from the hellish monotony of a sanatorium. Passions ended in blood and death, but the biggest tragedy of all this was that the man killing all the women did not do it because they stepped out of line and expressed themselves, but because he could kill them and frame it away from his actual motive and target. In the end, the self expression of the women on screen was snuffed out, not because they were a cause, but because they were an afterthought to a man who wanted to get back at one single woman.

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