Saturday, 24 April 2010

Asylum Erotica (1971)

Asylum Erotica (La bestia uccide a sangue freddo) is another European cult movie that has suffered from poor DVD presentations. It’s a pity, because this is a classic piece of fun eurosleaze.

The DVD from Tango Entertainment is very disappointing, being fullframe and also apparently cut (mind you it was also dirt cheap so I should probably stop complaining). It’s also been released by Shriek Show under its alternative title of Slaughter Hotel. Their release claims to be in the correct Cinemascope aspect ratio.

Moving on to the movie itself, what we have is essentially a giallo with some gothic trappings (a combination that I generally rather enjoy).

The movie takes place in an exclusive private mental hospital. I have to say that it’s not the kind of hospital I’d care to end up in. The first worrying moment would be when you’re introduced to the junior psychiatrist, and it’s Klaus Kinski. Not terribly reassuring. And then you notice the decor, which prominently features the hospital’s impressive collection of medieval edged weapons. And the sword, battle-axes, etc are not kept locked up in cabinets. The administrators of this institution display an admirable degree of trust in their patients. The patients can if they wish simply help themselves to a weapon. Perhaps this is part of the therapy? If they don’t grab a battle-axe and start chopping up other patients then it’s a sign they’re on the road to recovery.

And then if you happen to wander down to the basement you’ll find the hospital’s collection of medieval instruments of torture, including an iron maiden.

But at least you can’t say the nurses aren’t caring. One female nurse is particularly caring, especially towards the female patients, and even more especially to one young pretty female patient. She suffers from agoraphobia, and the nurse appears to believe that naked massages can be very helpful in such cases. I’m not sure if they make the patient feel any better, but they certainly seem to make the nurse in question feel a lot better. And although the patient is in perfect physical health, this nurse also likes to help her take a bath. Of course even though she isn’t actually in the bath the nurse has to strip down to her underwear to do this. She also finds that giving the patient lots of hugs helps her. Naked hugs are an even more effective therapy.

Some of the patients prefer to take charge of their own therapy. Anne (Rosalba Neri) suffers from not feeling loved. Her brother still loves her, but “not the way he used to love her when they were younger.” The kind of love he used to show her is the kind she craves. She craves it a lot. She tends to express this need by taking her clothes off and throwing herself at the male staff members. They resist her advances, but she has more success with the gardener. He’s delighted to help her with her treatment. I guess helping a naked Rosalba Neri with her treatment is more fun than raking leaves.

Meanwhile Dr Clay (Klaus Kinski) is taking a very close personal interest in Cheryl Hume, one of his patients. A very close personal interest indeed.

So as you may have gathered this is a slightly unconventional mental health facility. In fact it doesn’t really come as much of a surprise when patients start getting hacked up. With medieval swords and battle-axes. After three or four patients have been dispatched in this manner, the hospital’s administrator decides that perhaps it might be wise to call the police. The police prove to be every bit as efficient in performing their duties as the hospital staff are in performing theirs.

There’s a great deal of moderately gory bloodshed, and an even greater amount of sex and nudity. And scarily enough the plot actually makes some kind of sense. Sort of.

Director Fernando Di Leo handles all this with a certain amount of style. There’s more than enough general weirdness and mayhem to satisfy any eurocult fan. Plus there’s Klaus Kinski and Rosalba Neri, who happens to be one of my favourite eurocult actresses. And there’s lots of sleaze. So what’s not to love?

But don’t get the Asylum Erotica DVD from Tango Entertainment - get the Slaughter Hotel version from Shriek Show.


venoms5 said...

The Shriek Show DVD is a horrible release, D. Not because of any presentation issues, but because they screwed up with the movie itself. I forget exactly where it is in the running time, but there's a long sequence where the soundtrack is terribly out of sync for about a minute or two. I'll have to check, but it is one of the worst cases of bad QC I have ever seen. Shriek Show has had a bad history of releasing slap dash discs. Anchor Bay had the same problems when they first started out. Shriek Show is a lot better now, though, but I don't think they ever issued replacement discs for this title. The Italian DVD is the best release so I hear.

dfordoom said...

venoms5, that's a pity, since i was quite tempted by the Shriek Show release.

venoms5 said...

Here's the place where I got a bunch of those sword and sandal movies. They also have the raro dvd for this movie which has both English and Italian options. The link is here...