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Hotel Fear (1978)

Pensione paura (original title)
A young girl and her mother run a hotel during the war. When the mother dies, the girl finds herself at the mercy of her sex-crazed guests. Soon enough, a cloaked figure starts killing off everyone that tries to harm her.


Francesco Barilli


Barbara Alberti (story), Amedeo Pagani (story) | 3 more credits »




Cast overview:
Leonora Fani ... Rosa
Luc Merenda ... Rodolfo / playboy
Jole Fierro Jole Fierro ... Rodolfo's lover
Lidia Biondi ... Marta / Rosa's mother
Francisco Rabal ... Marta's lover
Francesco Impeciati ... Guido / Rosa's boyfriend
Máximo Valverde ... (as Massimo Valverde)
José María Prada ... Hotel guest (as Josè Maria Prada)
Wolfango Soldati Wolfango Soldati ... Fascist
Carlo Totti Carlo Totti ... Fascist
Maria D'Alessandro Maria D'Alessandro ... Prostitute
Diala Caruso Diala Caruso ... Prostitute
Arnaldo Caivano Arnaldo Caivano
Luigi De Santis Luigi De Santis


During World War II, teenage Rosa and her mother run a hotel in the Italian countryside, mourning over the death of her dead father. When the mother dies under mysterious circumstances, Rosa finds herself at mercy of her sex-crazed guests, but not before a hooded assailant, lurking in the shadows of the hotel, starts killing off each and everyone that tries to harm Rosa. Could it be her dead father back from the dead to avenge his daughter? Written by anonymous

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Did You Know?


Francesco Barilli recalls that when the movie came out in theaters it was forbidden to minors. "When it was acquired by television, all the most disturbing scenes were left out. For instance, the scene in which Luc Merenda's lover [Jole Fierro] lures Fani into her own room and then lets the man rape her, was cut to the bone. At a certain point, the elderly woman even stuck a finger in Luc's ass as he was fucking the girl, in order to somehow give him pleasure, too. I think I still have a "Playmen" magazine issue with the photo session taken on the set", he says. See more »

User Reviews

Mezmerizing, Nightmarish and Brilliantly Set Italian Gem
17 December 2010 | by Witchfinder-General-666See all my reviews

Francesco Barilli had already proved a great talent for creating a nightmarish atmosphere with his most famous film "Il Profumo Della Signora in Nero" (1974), and while that film is a true gem I liked his second Giallo, "Pensione Paura" of 1977 even more. With only few murders and an obscure storyline that is not mainly concerned with a murder series, "Pensione Paura" is no typical example for the Giallo-genre, but an incredibly moody one. Set in a guest house in rural Italy in the final stages of WW2, "Pensione Paura" maintains a thick and nightmarish atmosphere that makes the film seem like a gloomy fever dream at times. Beautiful yet incredibly eerie, the film oozes a constant atmosphere of doom that is intensified by beyond demented characters and a magnificent score that stands out even in the good company of Italian genre soundtracks.

When World War 2 nears its end, Rosa (Leonora Fani) and her mother Marta (Lidia Biondi) are keeping their eerie old guest-house open for a bunch of demented guests, among them the sleazy and sinister playboy Rodolfo (Luc Merenda), as well as Marta's lover (Francisco Rabal) who is hiding out from someone. Rosa, who is eagerly awaiting her father's return from the war is writing letters to him on a daily basis... Giving too much information about the plot would spoil a part, which is why my plot description ends here. As in any Giallo, of course, there is a series of murders involved, and the beautifully but decaying old rural guest-house is the eeriest setting imaginable. Leonora Fani is great in her leading role of the innocent teenage girl, a character it is easy to feel and be scared for. The rest of the characters are almost entirely demented, and the performances are great. Regular Italian cult leading-man Luc Merenda ("Torso", "Milano Trema", "L'Uomo Senza Memoria",...) is brilliantly sinister in his sleaziest role as the pencil-mustached womanizer Rodolfo, who has an older girlfriend but is also pursuing the innocent young Martha. The great Spanish character actor Francisco Rabal ("Dagon", "Nightmare City",...) is equally great.

"Pensione Paura" is a fantastic example for the atmospheric power of Italian Horror film. Without showing anything explicitly 'horrible' in the first half, the film maintains an eerily beautiful and uniquely nightmarish atmosphere of pure gloom from the very beginning to the very end. The remote rural setting with the gloomy guest-house and the nearby picturesque village create a menacing mood of seclusion and being lost. The brilliant score by Adolfo Waitzmann must be one of the most mesmerizing ever. While the film is not very gory by Italian Horror standards, it is completely uncompromising. I am not sure why Francesco Barilli regrettably has not directed many more films that were released in cinemas, a possible explanation could lie in the lack of gory and spectacular murders in comparison to the films other Italian Horror/Giallo masters. Overall, "Pensione Paura" is a must-see for anyone interested in Eurohorror, Giallo and Cult-Cinema. Very Highly Recommended!

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Release Date:

16 February 1978 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

Hotel Fear See more »

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Technical Specs



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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