Hukkunud Alpinisti hotell (1979)

Title in  English: Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel.

hap2I did not see this coming.

I did not see this coming. I had no intentions of ever reviewing an Estonian film (for those of you who are unaware – yep, I am from Estonia). Yet it so happened that we went to see an Estonian film from the Soviet times with class and I found myself analysing it during the entire thing and then I found that I want to share this.

Plot: Inspector Glebsky is summoned to a remote mountain lodge. To the proprietor’s knowledge, nothing is amiss, but poor driving conditions force Glebsky to spend the evening with the hotel’s strange guests. When an avalanche cuts the chalet off from the rest of the world, mysterious events are set into motion – with dire consequences for the guests: Olaf is found dead, and Hinckus tied to his bed, while a man turns up outside the hotel, nearly frozen. Even the physicist Simonet cannot explain the origin of a strange briefcase found near Olaf’s lifeless body. Glebsky springs into detective mode, but the facts lead him to a conclusion that his logical mind cannot reconcile. (source: EF100)

hap3What happened was that there was a decent detective film (the close-ups of faces was extremely creepy, yes, but it was the seventies and we can forgive for that, right?) that the writer couldn’t think of a solution to and then, BAM!, he put in aliens1. I didn’t understand half of what was going on and I didn’t appreciate looking at a helicopter flying for three minutes straight when I couldn’t even understand was it the terrorists’ or the police’s one. And I definitely didn’t appreciate the extremely dragging minutes of an avalanche. Many of the scenes in the film were pointless but come on, an ending has to be fast-paced or it simply doesn’t work. I kind of appreciate the point of the ending; it was incredibly bold and relentless – but it doesn’t really fix much on its own.

Now tell me this isn't creepy.

Now tell me this isn’t creepy. (You have to imagine the face over an enormous screen, though.)

There were some very cool things too, though: a picture of the dead mountaineer the hotel was named after; a pool game scene which started with a bang!, literally and a scene that I really liked; it had loud music playing, a few people dancing in a very flowing and eerie way and Glebsky drinking whiskey (which always looks cool).

One thing I like about old films is that they are on film. Photos shot on film look so real and carry atmosphere with them. And films are very long, moving versions of it – all the better. It’s a real film in any case. Once you get over the fact it’s an Estonian film set in France2 with a Lithuanian lead and everyone’s names sound Swedish or Russian while they all still speak Estonian, it’s rather enjoyable. It’s very real. There are aliens and everything, sure, but it lacks the American/English pretense – it’s hard to explain. It’s something that you feel.3

There’s also a show-stealing dog and Glebsky looks great in his suit. And the picture of the dead mountaineer is rad. If you have time, watch it for an eerie experience, also for something a bit different because that’s certainly one word for it. And then you can come back here and tell me if it felt as creepy to you as it did to me.

1 Like that would explain everything. UGH, just UGH.
2 Or Switzerland. In the Alps where they speak French. Happy?
3 Look at the trailer and you will (probably) understand. Wow, I’m incoherent.

7 responses to “Hukkunud Alpinisti hotell (1979)

  1. I’m no expert in Estonian film so I have not seen this one.. and frankly, I don’t really want to. I bet it’s good in terms of being an Estonian classic but it’s something I’m never drawn towards.

    • Ma ei vaadanud kunagi Eesti filme… ja avastasin siis, et Kevade on päris pagana kihvt. Ja pärast seda olen natuke avatum olla üritanud – kuigi ma poleks vast seda vabatahtlikult vaatama läinud. 😀

  2. This movie sounds insane! My guess is that we won’t find it on iTunes… We’ll have to find some way of watching it.

    • It is kinda insane. True. And wow, if you do watch it, write about it! (If you get through it, that is.) There’s a version of it dubbed into Russian (with English subtitles) on Youtube but I doubt it’s on iTunes either, heheh.

      But I’ll have to warn you that Estonia isn’t really known for it’s amazing cinema if you do watch it. 😀

  3. Pingback: Linked 14/4: Quick non-movie thoughts | Mettel Ray Movie Blog

  4. You can watch it and many other great Soviet-era films with english subtitles here:

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