Hospital Massacre 1982 Review
Hospital Massacre 1983
aka X-Ray aka Be My Valentine, Or Else!
Directed by: Boaz Davidson
Starring: Barbi Benton, Charles Lucia, Jon Van Ness
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
Now I’m sure that even if you only have a passing interest in slasher movies, you’ll have heard about My Bloody Valentine and its successful remake. You’ll most probably also be aware of Jamie Blanks’ imaginatively titled Valentine from 2001. What you may not know however, is that there’s was another golden-period slasher flick that chose the February day of romance to terrorise and that was this campy treat from 1982.
Rarely acknowledged as a genre entry, or that it even exists, this entry is notable as it is quite an intriguing and extremely obscure picture and boasts a huge number of victims. Slasher movies are well known for their lack of originality and re-use of clichés, but to be fair some could say that us slasher journalists (although a loveable bunch) are no better. Check out how many times we mention Halloween in our write-ups for example. Anyway, my point is that we have to reference Carpenter’s masterpiece so many times, because we see parts of it in almost every title that we watch – even today. But that’s where Hospital Massacre stands alone, because it doesn’t go shoplifting around the isles of the original 1978 screenplay for ideas and instead focuses its pilfering from its lesser renowned sequel. Seriously, some parts are even directly cut and pasted from Rick Rosenthal’s follow up!
Susan (Barbi Benton) is on her way to hospital for a medical check-up so that she can get insurance for her new job. When she arrives, there’s a muddle up with her results and she is left waiting around. Meanwhile, a Surgical-masked maniac has begun a killing spree through the wards above her. Why is he targeting the female and who could it be?
Wow what can be said? Well give me a second whilst I l catch my breath. Hospital Massacre is an interesting case, because of its high(ish) financing. I mean, the initial plan must have been to make a terror classic to grab some of that cash cow pie that the guys over at Paramount had been scoffing, so what did the producers think when they saw what Boaz Davidson had done with their hard-earned bucks?
Now I’m not saying that I didn’t like this effort. I actually think that it’s a whole lot of fun, if you’re in the right mood (or heavily drunk). Everything from Arlon Ober’s score (which at times sounds like a cat sharpening his claws on a Violin) to the performances (not so much bad actors trying to be good as bad actors trying to be…well, bad) makes this come across as rather comedic.
To be fair, the director does pull off one effective jolt, but it came after nearly one-hundred times of trying and despite countless opportunities to build suspense, the whole movie feels rather one-toned and flat. Talking of flat, final girl and former Playboy centrefold Barbi Benton’s chest is DEFINITELY not that. The lady lumps that she’s obviously most proud of also play a part in one of the weirdest sequences of the feature. Now I may disappoint a few fans here, but I was never the biggest T&A obsessive. It’s probably that Spanish Catholic upbringing that STILL makes me feel well, a bit guilty for watching girls on screen in their skin suits. Nevertheless, if boobies are your thing, as they are mine, we won’t be disappointed here. There’s a five-minute scene that’s bordering on soft-porn where the doctor examines (every inch) of Benton’s body whilst the camera keeps focused on the biggest star pairing of 1982 slasher movies. In fairness it’s a sexy sequence, but hopelessly gratuitous. It’s also relatively unusual that a slasher film’s heroine whips off her top, because it’s usually left up to one of the background bunnies to do that kind of thing. I guess they were looking to Benton to provide her depths of experience in that particular area.
Aside from that, you can’t knock Benton’s effort. She tries very hard to act, even if it’s quite obvious that she is a train-rack of a person in a dramatic sense. I don’t think that she was the worst performer on display and trying hard means a lot in my book, but she came across as egotistical and a bit arrogant – not the easiest traits to warm to. It’s also worth noting that the script went for a more mature feminine lead (a divorcee with a child even), ignoring the slasher template of having a teenage scream queen. Now I mentioned earlier that this was ‘inspired by’ Halloween 2, well that’s certainly the case (check the knowing nod when we hear a call over the tannoy for Dr. Carpenter!). The thing is, this was filmed in 1981 and released in ’82, which must mean that the production was rushed somewhat and maybe that explains some of the silliness?
So, there’s a big enough body count and some fairly inventive medical-themed ways to slice through the cast. The maniac pants like a Rottweiler whilst in the act of slaughtering, which was clearly meant to look rather scary, but is instead silly. Most of the victims turn up for no other reason AT ALL, except to get killed, so the movie, in its entirety, is like a YouTube compilation of slasher murders with 0 structure. There’s a mystery in the background, but it’s infinitely easy to guess who the killer is (just use 5% of your brain). It’s a sweeping statement, but I’m also part-convinced that Hospital Massacre has the dumbest slasher victim to ever exist in one of these flicks. After finding a dead body in a cupboard freshly dripping blood, one numbskull in a ridiculous bow-tie bumps in to a masked surgeon that unbeknownst to him is the killer. Bow-tie guy tries informing the stranger that he’s just discovered Dr Jacobs’ corpse, but bizarrely the mysterious medic flees without so much as an adios. Instead of becoming a tad suspicious, bow-tie dweeb decides to follow the psycho into a dark corner and gets his face burned off in a sink full of acid Oh and I can’t forget the part where Susan hides behind a screen from the marauding maniac and he walks straight past, even though her legs are clearly visible!?!
There’s one scene that had the potential to carry the unsettling vibe that was set in the video game, Silent Hill. It started well, as our hysterical final girl runs in to a room where a group of victims (or patients) are tied up in plaster and strapped to their beds (not sure if the killer was involved or they were just injured). Anyway, she screams and they scream, waving their only moveable limbs in tandem and instead of having the desired effect of being extremely creepy, it comes across like the kind of slapstick comedy moment that Benny Hill would have been proud of.
Hospital Massacre clearly has its heart in the right place and it’s real fun of the campy kind. Barbi Benton is indeed nice eye candy and despite not adding any warmth to her character, she isn’t the worst I have sat through and yes, she has a great pair of lungs. This is a perfect remedy for the blues if you’re feeling a bit down, but as a serious slasher rival to any of the films it emulates, it never comes close.
Very daft and excessively cheesy, so how could I do anything else but recommend it?
Final Girl √√
Posted on October 18, 2011, in Pure Eighties Cheese, Slasher and tagged barbi benton, boaz davidson, boobies, cheesy wotsit, gore, Hospital Massacre, Hot Chicas, masked killer, USA, Whodunit?, X ray. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.