There’s one last Valentine chocolate in the box and it’s called HOSPITAL MASSACRE, known in some parts as X-RAY; it’s working title was the sublime BE MY VALENTINE…OR ElSE! Directed by BOAZ DAVIDSON (by the way, I’m still broken hearted by the conclusion to BOAZ‘s THE LAST AMERICAN VIRGIN…how could you, DIANE FRANKLIN !?!), this early eighties shocker has somehow avoided DVD capture though its giant silver MGM VHS box can be spotted hiding out in the back alleys of Amazon.
Kids, we’re talking a 1982 slasher that takes place in a hospital, is centered around a second rate holiday and kicks off with a prologue revealing a unsettled grudge from the past! Sounds like it can’t fail right? Sure it can! HOSPITAL MASSACRE puts the “ail” in fail but it’s just so screwy and peculiar that I can almost forgive it for cutting into my valuable PS3 time. Let’s take a look at the symptoms, shall we?
As if sashaying her way through HEE-HAW and FANTASY ISLAND wasn’t enough to enrapture me, BARBI BENTON (born Barbara Klien) also starred in the uber-incredible DEATHSTALKER. Plus, the gal’s got….er….PIPES!
TWO OF THE THREE BLOODY BIRTHDAY KIDS!
In H.M.’s opening we learn that when BARBI’s character Suzy was a child, a spurned admirer killed her brother on Valentine’s Day. I thought it fortuitous enough to find BLOODY BIRTHDAY’s super creepy SUSAN HOY playing young Suzy when suddenly up pops the ever-brilliant BILLY JACOBY as the crazed, can’t take a hint psycho. Horror-synchronicity at its finest!
MY BLOODY VALENTINE NOD
Early in the film an elevator ride is cut short when the doors slide open to show three men in HARRY WARDEN gas masks, a nice playful jab at that other earlier released Valentine horror film!
LET ME OUT!
Poor Suzy just stopped by the hospital to pick up some routine test results but because her stalker switched her X-rays, the doctors, along with their seven foot tall nurses, won’t let her leave! H.M. may think it’s a slasher but it’s really a SNAKE PIT movie at heart. Which is good because SNAKE PIT movies are as campy as they want to be and that’s why I love them. (Slap me five 1985’s HELLHOLE with JUDY LANDERS and RAY SHARKEY and 1990’s COMMITTED with JENNIFER O’NEIL and RON PALILLO!!!)
THE FREAKS SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH!
So what if the surgeon killer is more goofy than scary, the chanting occult soundtrack is wildly inappropriate and the pacing, on occasion gets slower than an IV drip. HOSPITAL MASSACRE has a kooky KAFKA on Quaaludes vibe that should carry lovers of cult film straight on through to the other side. I was a doubter myself until BARBI stumbled into a room with three patients bandaged head to toe that just start convulsing like break dancing marionettes. Like most of the film, it’s surreal, funny and not meant to be taken too seriously. Plus, in HOSPITAL MASSACRE you get a decapitated head in a hat box, that’s a pretty good Valentine gift, right?