By Chuck Francisco
September 25, 2013 Source: Mania.com
Have you ever heard of a demented little slasher called X-Ray? Despite being recently released by beloved horror distributor Scream Factory under this original title as part of a double feature with the more well know Schizoid, this disgusting little stab showcase is more well known as Hospital Massacre. This splatter by the numbers cinema happy meal might be dismissed on a surface level as more human flesh fodder for the later 70's/early 80's fire burning atop the Michael Myers pyre, if not for the plethora of interesting toys included.
The basic plot entails a harrowing medical entrapment nightmare for playboy centerfold and scream queen du jour Barbi Benton (who was also featured on Hee Haw and in personal sword and sandal favorite Deathstalker). Benton plays Susan who, while in for a routine check up, is stymied at every attempt to depart the premises. Someone connected to her past is gruesomely slaughtering anyone who might facilitate her egress from the hospital. Complicating matters is the mystery ailment which alarms every medical professional who views her x-ray. The macguffin malady is leveraged to wonderful tension building effect as half a dozen people view her projected innards while wearing stunned masks of disgust, yet absolutely no one will divulge the nature of their concern to her.
As the lovely Benton is shuffled from examining room to ward room, she grows increasingly frustrated by the duration of her stay and total lack of information. Apparently her voluptuous body comes with a need to know disclosure and she doesn't need to know. This doesn't stop creepy Dr. Saxon (General Hospital mainstay John Warner Williams) from forcing her to submit to a nearly nude physical, sensually filmed with the leering eye of a pervert obsessed with the peaks and valleys of Ms. Benton.
The atmosphere is an amalgamation of One Flew Over The Cuckcoo's Nest and Halloween II; claustrophobic, overwhelming, and taut with suspense. The movie was shot over nights at an abandoned hospital, functionally treating us to a time warp effect- the decor is twenty years out of date, and many shots are dimly lit since not all of the lights were powered. Director Boaz Davidson recalls frequently becoming frightened and lost attempting to return to the set from bathroom breaks. Normally a creator of comedies, Boaz approached Hospital Massacre from a unique perspective, unashamedly padding the film but doing so in clever and interesting ways (think an anti-Coleman Francis car parking phenomenon).
Punctuating Susan's harrowing escape saga are slasher murders of intense brutality. Creativity is king when trying to evoke a reaction from hardcore horror fans, and while this film experiments with unique elements it is overall less graphically violent than its peers. Some folks may deduct points from their cool book for this, but I didn't mind a break from the mold since the effort and intention result in interesting spectacle. The killer is a personage from Susan's past; someone connected via a traumatic event witnessed in the prologue. She's since grown up and forgotten about him but, as is par for the course in these flicks, he has not forgotten her imagined childhood transgressions.
Speaking of her childhood, genre fans should keep their eyes peeled for child actress Elizabeth Hoy as young Susan. Hoy played one of the the lead murderous children in the absurdly campy Bloody Birthday made the year prior to this(and which I highly recommend). Staring opposite her in the trifecta of terror for Bloody Birthday? Child actor Billy Jayne who plays the young version of the masked, hyperventilating killer in Hospital Massacre (he was also in Beastmaster, Cujo, and Just One of the Guys).
While I can confidently recommend this flick for your overzealous consumption, I'd suggest a rental for all by the hardest of hardcore horror fans (or at least mid level management slasher aficionados). To those intrepid lovelies I propose purchasing the Scream Factory double blu ray. It includes a wonderful interview with director Boaz Davidson, and a fantastic quality transfer. Check it out with an open skull mind and let me know if you enjoyed it.
Want to watch something right now? Check the Screaming Streaming section for suggested viewing which is available right now via the magic of the Internets.
IP Man: The Final Fight
Runtime: 100 minutes
Genre: Martial Arts
Availability: Cable VOD, Amazon, Xbox, iTunes, Playstation, CinemaNow, Vudu, Google Play, and Youtube
The IP Man films are something of a recent phenomenon. Based on the storied real life of Wing Chun grandmaster IP Man, the teacher of Bruce Lee, there are two contemporary, concurrently running series of films based on his exploits. This is the sequel to 2010's The Legend is Born - IP Man; this is not the series with choreography by Danno Hung. This shouldn't be an immediate turn off as these two films are dripping Chinese culture and lore. This newest film details the later stages of IP Man's life but eschews the serious politics of the time to focus on the man and his struggles (and martial prowess). If you didn't dig the downer political and socioeconomic themes covered in 2008's separate IP Man, those features are largely glossed over here. IP Man: The Final Fight is available now via VOD from a wealth of sources: Cable VOD, Amazon, Xbox, iTunes, Playstation, CinemaNow, Vudu, Google Play, and Youtube.
Chuck Francisco is a columnist and critic for Mania, writing Wednesday's Shock-O-Rama, the weekly look into classic cult, horror and sci-fi. He is a co-curator of several repertoire film series at the world famous Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA. You can hear him drop nerd knowledge on weekly podcast You've Got Geek or think him a fool of a Took on Twitter.
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