Play Motel

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  • X
  • 1979
  • 1 hr 33 min
  • 4.8  (691)

Play Motel is a 1979 Italian giallo film directed by Mario Gariazzo and starring Ray Lovelock, Anna Maria Rizzoli, and Mario Cutini. It follows a group of guests who check into a seedy motel for various reasons, unaware that a killer is on the loose. The film opens with a couple, Ada and Andrea, driving to the Play Motel after a violent argument. They check into a room and proceed to have sex, but their tryst is interrupted by a mysterious figure in a black raincoat and fedora who strangles Ada to death.

Meanwhile, other guests are arriving at the motel. There's a glamour model named Bruna and her photographer, a petty thief named Tony and his girlfriend, and a married couple who are hoping to spice up their sex life. The guests are all drawn into the mystery of the killer, who strikes again and again, leaving bloody handprints and cryptic messages on the walls.

As the body count rises, the guests become increasingly paranoid and mistrustful of each other. Everyone has a motive, and everyone seems to be hiding something. The police, led by Inspector Corsi, investigate the murders but are stymied by the lack of leads and the sprawling, labyrinthine motel.

In between the killings, there are plenty of steamy sex scenes, as the guests indulge in their various kinks and fetishes. The photography is lush and sensual, with soft focus and mood lighting that make even the dingiest motel room look almost inviting.

Despite the film's strong sexual content, there's a distinctly misogynistic tone to some of the murders. The killer seems to be targeting women who are sexually liberated or independent, while the men mostly get off scot-free (with the exception of one particularly gruesome death). It's a reminder that this is a product of its era, and that even the most sleazy exploitation films have their own implicit moral codes.

The performances in Play Motel are generally solid, with Lovelock and Rizzoli standing out as the most sympathetic and nuanced characters. Lovelock in particular brings a wounded vulnerability to his role as Andrea, who is haunted by his past and struggling to keep his temper in check. Rizzoli is equally compelling as Ada, who is more than just a disposable sex object; she's a woman with her own desires and conflicts.

The film's climax is suitably chaotic and bloody, with the killer revealed in a way that's both unexpected and satisfying. It's a testament to Gariazzo's skill as a director that even in a film as trashy and lurid as this, there are moments of genuine tension and suspense.

Ultimately, Play Motel is a solid entry in the giallo canon, with all the requisite elements: a shadowy killer, gory murders, and plenty of stylish sex and violence. It's not for everyone, of course, but for fans of Italian exploitation cinema, it's a must-see.

Play Motel
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 33 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    4.8  (691)