Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 1st, 2015
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1979
Director: Mario Gariozzo
Writer: Mario Gariozzo
Cast: Ray Lovelock, Anna Maria Rizzoli, Mario Cutini, Antonella Antinori, Patrizia Behn, Enzo Fisichella, Marina Hedman, Cesare Di Vito, Anthony Steffen
BluRay Released: August 25th, 2015
Approximate running time: 93 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono Italian, DTS-HD Mono English
BluRay Release: Raro Video USA
Region Encoding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.98
Play Motel was written and directed by Mario Gariazzo under the alias Roy Garrett. Other notable films also directed by Mario Gariazzo include, Acquasanta Joe, Eyes Behind the Stars and Very Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind. Key collaborators on Play Motel include cinematographer Aldo Greci (The Playgirls and the Vampire, The Bloodsucker Leads the Dance) and composer Ubaldo Continiello (Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man, Macabre).
Though Play Motel has many elements that one identifies with the Italian thriller. Like a black glove wearing killer and an amateur sleuth who steps in and solves the crime, when police are once again baffled. This is however where the Italian connection ends and in fact the first hint that this film is a thriller does not rear its head until very late in the opening act. And even as the film progresses moments pertaining to the thriller genre often appear quickly only to delve back into erotica subject matter which dominates this film narrative.
Visually Mario Gariozzo is at his best during the thriller related moments, while the more sexually charged moments come off as too mechanical. From a pacing standpoint the film struggles to maintain momentum due to the constant shift in tone. Without a doubt one of main reasons for the discord between the two clashing genres is this film’s score, which sounds like something out of hardcore sex film. With that being said, the film’s main theme is an infectious tune that stick to you like glue.
The performances in this film are best described as serviceable. And though Ray Lovelock (The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue, The Last House on the Beach) is billed as the main attraction. His character is not introduced very late in the first act. Other notable cast members include, Anthony Steffen (The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave, Tropic of Cancer) in the role of Inspector De Sanctis and Anna Maria Rizzoli (The Repeating Student Winked at the Principal) in the role of Lovelock’s girlfriend. She provides an ample amount of eye candy and it should not come as surprise that her character has the most memorable scene in the film. The scene in question has her character going under covering as a model so she can look around a photographer’s studio for clues. Needless to say what she thought would be just a routine photo shoot ends with her naked and the photographer trying to take advantage of her. Ultimately Play Motel is a grade A example shlock cinema and anyone excepting anything more should look elsewhere.
Play Motel comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Colors and flesh tones look accurate, black levels look very good and details generally look crisp. And though there are no issues with compression, the same can’t be said about DNR which varies in degree throughout this transfer. With that being said, considering the rarity of this film and how hard it is track down on any home video format. It is safe to say that this is the best option to see this film currently available.
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD Mono mix in Italian and a DTS-HD Mono mix in English. Both audio tracks sound clear, balanced throughout and robust when it needs too, especially when it comes to this film’s soundtrack. Also included with this release are removable English subtitles the Italian language track and for scenes that there are no English audio available.
Extras for this release include, cut scenes / censored footage (7 minutes 11 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles) and a featurette titled ‘The Midas Touch’ (18 minutes 41 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles). This featurette titled ‘The Midas Touch’ includes comments from Davide Pulici, producer Armando Novelli, actor Franco Garofalo, actress Monika Zanchi and Ray Lovelock.
Topics discuss in the featurette titled ‘The Midas Touch’ include, Fernando Di Leo’s connection with the producer of Play Motel, director Mario Gariozzo and various other films that he directed, how Play Motel differs from other Italian thrillers, how by the late 1970’s it had become the norm in the Italian film industry to make extended XXX versions of films and release them at the same time as the non XXX version was being released and the cast.
Rounding out the extras is a slip cover that has alternate cover art then the cover art included with the Blu-ray keep case and an eight page booklet with an essay about the film.
Overall Play Motel gets a strong release from Raro Video.
Note: This film is also being released by Raro Video USA on DVD.