The End of August at the Hotel Ozone
But Watkins’s existential parable paled in comparison to the second feature, a chilling Czech import called The End of August at the Hotel Ozone (1966). I tried researching it beforehand but to no avail. This was the real deal, a true obscurity that escaped the notice of even the most ardent SF fans.
The opening credits claimed that it was produced by the Czechoslovakian Army (!). Like good soldiers, we remained at attention for ninety-odd minutes as a group of barbaric young women are led by their mother across a land wiped out by nuclear war. The old woman keeps speaking of the glories of the past, as if to instill a sense of values into her daughters. But all they want to do is kill. And kill. And kill. Animal lovers be forewarned: live creatures were sacrificed for the sake of the scenario. It isn’t pretty.
During the credits, I’d scribbled down the names of the director and writer, but could find very little on them back then. Director Jan Schmidt had received good notice for his short film, Josef Kilián (1963), while Pavel Jurácek had written the screenplay for Ikarie XB 1 (1963), which made it to America under the title, Voyage to the End of the Universe.
The film fell out of sight for decades. A bootleg DVD surfaced a couple of years ago, though without English subtitles. Anyone unfamiliar with it couldn’t catch the poetry of the old woman’s narration. Hopefully, that’ll soon change: Facets Video plans to release it on DVD on January 31.
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