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You might think that Italian gialli (lurid thrillers, often involving black gloved killers and other tropes) are already exploitive enough, what with the overabundance of violence, nudity and sex. Well, in the late seventies the folks at Midia Cinematografica thought, "What if we added even more pointless sex?" And thus, the poorly thought out, but still enjoyable, thriller Play Motel was born.
The titular Play Motel is an upscale location for the well off to meet for anonymous trysts with willing partners. Unbeknownst to these well to do romantics, the place is run by notorious pornographer Max Ligouri (Marino Mase), who secretly takes photos of his guests while they play and uses the results for blackmail. The cops are suspicious of Ligouri, especially after a number of young women connected to the case are murdered, but they can't seem to get any proof.
Luckily, Roberto Vinci (Ray Lovelock) and his wife (Annamaria Rizzoli) decide to do a little roleplaying and book a night at the motel. Afterwards, they find a dead body in the trunk and call the police. Of course, the police ask the couple to jump right into danger and go undercover to investigate the whole corrupt lot. See, they're actors, which perfectly suits them to this kind of thing.
In due time, they are wearing disguises and dealing with sleazy lawyers and business tycoons and even sleazier photographers, right up to the explosive climax. Really, Play Motel isn't very exciting. It was slapped together with a story that isn't terribly exciting, and often confusing. The producers added X-rated footage using body doubles after the fact, without telling any of the actors, perhaps to maximize their profits.
What Play Motel does have is a good natured goofiness, a cool visual sense, and lots of naked, nubile flesh. Lovelock and Rizzoli do pretty well as the sleuthing couple as well. If that's the kind of thing you like, and you've always wanted your gialli to be just a bit sexier, then this is the movie for you. It's probably mostly going to appeal to fans of seventies exploitation films, but they will be pretty well pleased. There are much worse examples out there. For that particular group of viewers, this is Recommended.
The image is 1.67:1 widescreen, and looks pretty good. Despite the mild grain, the print is bright and clear, with rich (though garish) colors. There are a couple of very blurry shots here and there, but not many. Raro Video has done a good job on this transfer.
Audio is Linear PCM 2.0 stereo, and sounds moderately good. There is the occasional snap or pop to be heard, but not so much that it distracts from the viewing experience. The audio is available in the original Italian and an English dub, with optional English subtitles.
There are a few extras included. They are:
The Midias Touch
This nineteen minute featurette is a short history of Midia Cinematografica, with a particular focus on the production of Play Motel. There are interviews with a number of producers and actors. Most interesting is the conversation with Ray Lovelock. Lovelock pointedly doesn't disavow the film, but he was quite upset about the inclusion of the pornographic scenes without his knowledge or consent. This is an interesting little doc.
Hard Cut Scenes
Seven minutes of the cut hardcore scenes are included here. Nothing special.
There is a quite well researched and interesting booklet included as well, which goes over the history of the production, and includes quotes from Rizzoli and others.
Play Motel is a fun little erotic giallo and worth your time if you enjoy the Italian exploitation films of the seventies. This isn't exactly bravura filmmaking, but it has a sense of style and attitude that make it enjoyable. Check it out.