Monday, October 7, 2013
Hospital Massacre (X-Ray) - 1982
For all its faults I'm a big fan of this film. The killer's premise is laughable, the killer's movement around the hospital is quicker than The Flash, and worst of the all the film suffers from multiple personalities: from serious horror to unintentionally funny to intentionally funny to trying to be funny but just coming off pathetic, I can see how the tonal inconsistencies in this movie can drive many people to hitting the STOP button. I have always found the film to play like a story from Kafka or Sartre. Taken literally, the film doesn't work, but as an allegory or nightmare, it is effective and the unfunny humor is frustrating and stifling.
As a kid, I thought Barbi Benton was an A-List movie star. I really thought I had found some secret film she did. And when she took off her top, I just about blew mine. I was stunned. Barbi Benton really holds the film together. She keeps it straight horror, putting up with the weak attempts at surreal humor. Her character is serious and has depth. This isn't teenagers, making out and smoking dope, she is a mother, recently divorced, with a new boyfriend. She's an adult.
As far as I know, the film skipped the DVD era. My VHS copy is wretched and I complained for years not having a DVD of the film. Recently, a beautiful blu-ray was released. It is just stunning in its clarity. I noticed immediately that after the chase with the killer begins, Barbi Benton's face is covered in sweat. It gives me a warm fuzzy that she would be cool with humanizing her doll-like visage this way. My wife, not knowing her name, even said, "Her face is so perfect. She looks like a doll," when the film started.
The other actors really move around Barbi Benton. They are fine for the most part, but you will not get wrapped up in their character or mourn their deaths. This is a who-done-it and the bloodletting is really a check mark of innocence.
The sound track also plays like a surreal nightmare.
The kills are fine. Nothing spectacular, a few are goofy, but the crimson does flow. The pacing is excellent. If an enterprising slasher fan stripped out the humorous scenes and shots, I think a nice, straight horror, fan-edit could be made.
The blu-ray is extremely clean. If you can handle a little surreal humor, this is an excellent Tier 2 slasher film. It's not going to scare you or disturb you. If you watch it with a group, the nightmare insanity becomes shake-your-head-hilarious. It's a damn fun film.
I'm sorry but the stills are from a low grade copy. I'm working on pulling stills from my blu-ray. Below is the full film.