Saturday, May 28, 2022

Hotel Fear – Mondo Macabro (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: Italy/Spain, 1978
Director: Francesco Barilli
Writers: Barbara Alberti, Amedeo Pagani, Francesco Barilli, Francisco Ariza, José Gutiérrez Maesso
Cast: Luc Merenda, Leonora Fani, Francisco Rabal, Jole Fierro, José María Prada, Lidia Biondi, Máximo Valverde, Francesco Impeciati

Release Date: June 14th, 2022
Approximate running time: 99 Minutes 11 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: NR
Sound: LPCM Mono Italian, LPCM Mono Spanish
Subtitles: English
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.95

"The story takes place in Italy towards the end of World War Two, in a run-down hotel on the shore of a large lake. A strange assortment of guests are staying there. They seem to be either suffering from mental illness, involved in scams of one sort or another, or hiding from something in their past.

Rosa, a teenage girl played by Lenora Fani, works with her mother, Marta, trying to keep the hotel functioning. Due to the war and the frequent bombing raids that take place, the hotel is on its last legs and even finding food for the guests is a major problem. Rosa writes letters to send to her father who is off fighting in the war.

Rosa’s mother dies unexpectedly, and suddenly the girl finds herself at the mercy of the sexually rapacious and insane hotel guests. After a vicious rape by two of the guests, Rosa despairs. She calls on her absent father to avenge her. And it seems her call is answered when the two guests die violently at the hands of a masked, gloved killer. But who really is this mystery assassin? And is Rosa losing her grip on reality?" - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.5/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, “a brand new 2K restoration of the original camera negative.”

Hotel Fear comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 43.5 GB

Feature: 28.9 GB

The source used for this transfer is in excellent shape. The colors are nicely saturated, the image looks crisp, and the black levels are strong.

Audio: 4.5/5 (LPCM Mono Italian, LPCM Mono Spanish)

This release comes with two audio options, a LPCM mono mix in Italian and a LPCM mono mix in Spanish. Both audio tracks are in great shape. They sound clean, clear, and balanced throughout. The differences between these two audio tracks are minimal. Included with this release are two subtitle tracks. The first English subtitle track is for the Italian language track, and the second English subtitle track is for the Spanish language track. 


Extras for this release include a Mondo Macabro preview reel, a theatrical trailer (3 minutes 59 seconds, Dolby Digital mono Italian, no subtitles), alternate scenes titled Italian & Spanish Versions Compared (6 minutes 47 seconds, Dolby Digital mono Spanish with non-removable English subtitles and text about each scene), an interview with director Francesco Barilli titled Madness in the Time of War (30 minutes 7 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an interview with Francesco Barilli at Cin-excess London from 2015 (28 minutes 19 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), interview with actor Luc Merenda titled I’m Not That Guy (29 minutes 9 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), and an audio commentary with Rachael Nisbit and Peter Jilmstad of the Fragments of Fear podcast.


Hotel Fear was directed by Francesco Barilli, a filmmaker whose filmography consists mostly of documentaries. His only feature film that he directed is The Perfume of the Lady in Black, a film which also falls into the Giallo genre. That said, though his two feature films are from the Giallo genre, the results are two of the more unique films from this genre. Where most Giallo films were indebted to filmmakers like Mario Bava and Dario Argento, Francesco Barilli’s two forays into the Giallo genre bear little resemblance to the filmmakers who laid the foundation from which most Italian filmmakers drew inspiration.

Though Hotel Fear has many elements that are associated with the Giallo genre, if you have never seen Hotel Fear before, its slow-building narrative that is overflowing with melodrama and eroticism will have you wondering when the Giallo tropes are going to start. For about seventy minutes, Hotel Fear does not resemble a Giallo. It is not until a traumatic moment happens with thirty-minutes left that Hotel Fear transforms into a Giallo. The finale provides a satisfying exclamation point to the events that preceded.

Hotel Fear features a solid cast who are all very good in their respective roles, especially Leonora Fani (Gore in Venice) in the role of Rosa, a young woman through whose eyes the majority of the narrative is seen. Other notable performances include Francisco Rabal (It's nothing mama, just a game) in the role of Rosa’s mother's lover who hides in a closet, and Luc Merenda (The Violent Professionals) in the role of a suave playboy named Rodolfo.

Hotel Fear has many similarities to Francesco Barilli’s other Giallo, The Perfume of the Lady. Most notably, how both films feature protagonists who have experienced a traumatic event that prominently plays a role in the story at hand, and how both films are infused with a Gothic horror vibe. Another strength of Hotel Fear is Adolfo Waitzman’s (The Other Side of the Mirror) fabulous score, which does a superb job of reinforcing the mood. Ultimately, Hotel Fear is a solid psychological thriller that fans of Giallo cinema are sure to enjoy.

Hotel Fear makes its way to Blu-ray via an exceptional release from Mondo Macabro that comes with a solid audio/video presentation and an abundance of informative extras, highly recommended.

Written by Michael Den Boer

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