Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Hospital Massacre AKA X-Ray (1982)

Directed by Boaz Davidson, who also wrote the story that was developed into the screenplay by Marc Behm, Hospital Massacre AKA X-Ray is a film so inept in so many ways that you'll watch it and start to wonder when Leslie Nielsen will appear. It feels like a spoof, but it's also brilliantly demented entertainment that's never dull for one minute of the run-time.

The lovely Barbi Benton plays Susan Jeremy, a young woman who heads in to hospital to receive some test results. Unfortunately for her, the doctor that would have seen her has been killed and her x-rays have been switched by a madman who obviously wants her to stay in the hospital long enough for him to make her clinically dead. Susan initially goes along with the hospital procedures with nothing more than a slight hint of impatience, but as time drags on she starts to get more and more frustrated. That frustration turns into real anger when she realises that her life is in danger and is unable to convince any of the hospital staff around her.

Boaz Davidson might be best known to a lot of people as the director of a number of films, including the very first, in the Lemon Popsicle franchise. That's certainly where I knew his name from anyway before seeing any of his work in the horror genre. I think it's fair to say that he brings the same subtlety and restraint to the slasher movie as he did to the teen sex comedy. So that's none at all then.

Thankfully, a lack of subtlety and restraint isn't the worst thing for either a teen sex comedy or a slasher horror movie and that's why I remain a fan of Boaz Davidson's work. His films may never top any "best of..." lists, but he makes some fun stuff that just needs to be watched in the right frame of mind. And usually a smirk, ready to develop into a grin.

I'm not going to pretend that the cast members do any great work, but they manage to keep a straight face while delivering some truly laughable dialogue, and they deserve some small amount of praise for that. Benton is a very attractive leading lady who puts herself across as being quite likable, Charles Lucia (billed as Chip Lucia) is a handsome doctor who seems more helpful than anyone else in the hospital and John Warner Williams is a doctor who refuses to believe any of the outlandish claims from Benton's character, though he's only too happy to get her topless for a prolonged examination/bit of gratuitous nudity. Gloria Jean Morrison and Karen Smith are two stone-faced nurses who won't put up with any histrionics.

There's a score derivative of some classic horror movie tunes, a lead character who just can't seem to help herself at all and proves to be one of the clumsiest people to try to survive to the end of a slasher movie, a great selection of scripted moments that have people saying something and then completely contradicting themselves/turning around a moment later and a classic comedy moment in which a room full of people in traction are shown moving frantically as someone walks into their room.

However, there are also a number of entertaining deaths, some absurd moments that carry on until they become surreal and a surprisingly decent finale that stands as some small reward for viewers who make it all the way to the end.

The comedy factor may not usually be the main thing that horror fans look for in their movies, but this one is really worth seeing if you go into it in the right frame of mind.



  1. I personally can't resist seeking out a movie that reunites two of the killer tykes from 1981's "Bloody Birthday" in the opening sequence. Let's hope Scream! Factory's release of this one comes out sooner this year than later in 2014.

    1. I had no idea it was due for re-release. It's non-stop entertaining, even if some horror fans will feel that it's just too silly.