Movies from the Black Lagoon

X-RAY (AKA Hospital Massacre)- 1981, Rated R

By Tom Doty

The health care industry takes a walloping in this 80’s “slasher” flick from the insane folks at Cannon Films.

Like many 80’s horror flicks this one opens with an incident from the past, 1962 to be exact. It is Valentine’s Day and young Susan is playing with an electric train courtesy of her sweetie, David. Meanwhile a kid is watching them through the window. He sneaks around to the door and drops off a Card before doing a “knock and run.”

Susan comes to the door and spies the red envelope. She takes it in and has a big laugh with David when she sees it is from Harold(in the cruel world of pre-adolescence the name Harold is Valentine’s Day poison). Susan repairs to the kitchen to cut them a wedge of Valentine’s cake . When she returns she finds David impaled on a coat rack while Harold screeches at her that his name is not Harry! Huh?

19 years later we are back with Susan(who has blossomed into former Playboy Bunny Barbi Benton). She is in the midst of dropping off her daughter at her ex-husband’s so she can keep a medical appointment. She arrives at a generic Hospital(it’s name simply reads Hospital though it looks suspiciously like a seniors center poorly disguised by the production team as a medical facility).

She is immediately plunged into weirdsville . The reception desk is where the odd janitor prefers hanging out and he leers at Susan like she was a blue plate special. Next she has to share the elevator with yet another sleaze case who is busily chomping on a burger liberally coated with catsup. She finally gets to her doctor’s office but her physician is nowhere in sight(as she is currently being stabbed to death by a guy clad in surgical gear on the unused floor above ,which is closed for fumigation).

Our killer then substitutes Susan’s test results with a bogus set. The new records indicate she has a condition so foul a creepy surgeon must now conduct a protracted exam of her while in the nude. Afterwards she is told nothing about her condition just that she will be staying overnight. This being the 80’s no one asks her anything about her insurance. The upshot is in the 80’s you could smoke anywhere so she puffs away and doesn’t have to tolerate nasty looks from the interns.

The facility is like something out of a David Lynch movie. Besides the killer you also have a drunken voyeur roaming the halls , a pair of snarky nurses, and a trio of mature women(one of whom appears to be a man in drag). In fact the only thing they’re missing is a dwarf who talks backwards.

While Susan waits for some news the killer racks up an impressive body count thanks to his improper use of surgical tools.

If you have at least one functioning brain cell you will figure out who the whack job murderer is the minute you meet him. The 80’s were all about the special effects and gore so convolute plots were never a staple of the genre. This film only rocks a little of the latter though Benton is decent substitute for the former.

The ending features the most spectacular demise of the killer that I’ve seen in many a horror flick. You won’t believe a man can fly but you will be treated to the stunning visual of a dummy doused in gasoline and set aflame before being tossed off a nine story building.

This is well made nonsense thanks to director Boaz Davidson. He specialized in “Porky’s” style comedies in his native Israel so he is about as subtle as an elephant .He does deliver some decent chills and enough oddball characters to keep you entertained. Benton proves that as an actress, well, she’s a heck of a singer.

Best Lines: ” Her blood is as malignant as slime.”

“Yo man. You gotta do something. Dr. Jacob is dead. She’s hanging in a closet.”

X-RAY (AKA Hospital Massacre)- 1981, Rated R

By Tom Doty

Tom Doty is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.

Tom Doty is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.

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