Written by: John White on December 13th, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1971
Director: Fernando Di Leo
Writer: Fernando Di Leo, Nino Latino
Cast: Klaus Kinski, Margaret Lee, Rosalbi Neri, Jane Garret, John Karlsen, Monica Stroebel
DVD released: February 2005
Approximate running time: 93 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English, Dolby Digital Mono Italian
DVD Release: Raro Video
Region Coding: Region 2 Pal (Italy)
Retail Price: EUR 19,90
Synopsis: Dr Clay(Kinski) is the second in command at a very peculiar psychiatric hospital. He takes a profound interest in his patients, including a spectacularly unprofessional one in Mrs Hume(Lee). The peculiarity of the institution comes from the plethora of medieval weapons available for any passing maniac to take advantage of. New head nurse Hilde(Stroebel) is helping withdrawn inmate(Garret) with her particular brand of massage and physical therapy. Nymphomaniac stunner Anne(Neri) is helping out the gardener and any orderly that comes by. Into this mix, a passing homicidal maniac takes advantage of the weaponry and spectacularly pretty inmates. Once the Police are called, the killer is unmasked.
Cold Blooded Beast was written and directed by Euro crime god Di Leo in order to cash in on the success of Dario Argento’s Animal Trilogy. In Di Leo’s estimation the film is “bad” and he lacked Argento’s skills with this particular genre. However, all the ingredients for a top sleazy giallo are in place. Kinski is shifty if surprisingly nice, Neri, Garrett, Lee and Stroebel are gorgeous, and violent death takes many glorious forms – sickle, axe, crossbow etc.
Filmed in 12 days and scored in an evening according to Silvano Spadaccino, the film defies logic in a wholeheartedly eccentric way from the killer’s motive to the gratuitous sleaze which is slightly toned down in this the Italian cut. Places for people who are mentally unwell do not usually boast weaponry including an Iron Maiden in the living room, Nurses don’t usually cure disturbed people through sustained sex and Klaus Kinski is never the sane one. Di Leo claims that he was being deliberately “shabby” with the genre and that is a pity, as Cold Blooded Beast is good fun with gore, sleaze and maguffins aplenty. The score is excellent and the photography is top-notch even if Di Leo is loathed to offer perspective shots.
For fans of the giallo who want Bava with sex, this is a good watch.
This is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen and the transfer is strong and uniformly sharp with rare blemishes such as hairs at the bottom of the screen. The disc comes with Italian and English options throughout and the subtitles are reliable if not perfect. The main feature can be watched in Italian with optional English subs and English Audio. The Raro disc puts write the audio mess up on the Shriekshow disc with the crossbow murder.
The extras include two featurettes. One is an interview with Rosalbi Neri about her career in movies where she comes over as rather well balanced and surprises male viewers everywhere by saying how she hated nudity. The second featurette includes interviews with Neri, the director and the composer about the movie. Di Leo explains how amazed he is that this film is seen as an influence on Tarantino. The disc also has the original trailer. A short leaflet in Italian and English is included in the DVD box which explains the genesis of the film.
If you like this film then this is the disc to get. It doesn’t have the sleazy deleted scenes you will see on the Shriekshow disc but those weren’t filmed by Di Leo anyway. The transfer, the extras and the dual language option make this a winner for the familiar fan although people new to the film may want to hire the R1 disc first.