Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Hospital Massacre (X-RAY)


It’s Valentine’s Day, and at the Jeremy residence that means one thing; the annual Valentine’s Day toy train races of course!  Who doesn’t race trains on Valentine’s Day?  Heathens!?  Susan Jeremy and her boy crush are so caught up with gambling and rooting for the races that they don’t notice a jealous onlooker, lurking right outside the window.  Harold longs for Susan like the desert longs for rain.  He wants her to be his valentine, but when she receives the letter she scoffs; big mistake.  She goes to the kitchen to retrieve some sweet Valentine’s Day cake for her and her boy toy, but returns to a murder scene.  Her friend is suspended in the air, head impaled on a coat hangar, and from this point forward I knew this movie was going to be a real treat; one filled with oodles of golden delicious cheese just oozing from its pores.  The victim’s body is most certainly a doll, not a body cast or latex thingy, a cheap ass doll straight from the store shelf.  They didn’t even bother adding any blood for effect, so it took me a second to register what it was, or really what they wanted the audience to believe it was.   Another thing that kind of gets my goat right off the bat is that this is another Valentine’s Day slasher put out a year after My Bloody Valentine, and the killer’s name is basically the same “Harry”.  I guess the hospital setting differentiates it from MBV, as we cool slasher kids like to call it, but I thought all the similarities were pretty ironic.

Nineteen years later and Susan Jeremy is a fully grown and rather voluptuous woman.  A real independent 80’s kind of gal; struggling with a divorce while trying to break the glass ceiling.  It’s Valentine’s Day and she’s due for a medical checkup following a recent promotion at work, but her fiancé Jake warns her that strange things have been going on at the hospital.  He doesn’t know the half of it.  Rumors aren’t enough to slow her stride, but she soon finds out that the hospital is indeed one whacky place.  It reminded me of a hospital if it was operated by Troma.  It’s the kind of place where mental patients walk about the halls freely, drinking booze and smearing hamburger ketchup everywhere.  Nurses are as pushy as the Gestapo and liable to manhandle seriously ill patients.   And Heaven help you if the doctor’s find some malignancy with your x-ray.  They won’t allow you to leave and force you to strip down for a creepy ass checkup by Dr. Saxon, who will feel you up while staring at you with cold compassion-less eyes.   I guess a general rule at this hospital is to never tell the patient their diagnosis.  Susan tries desperately to figure out why they’re forcing her detainment with no luck.  They just won’t budge on that rule and basically act like she’s totally bonkers for asking, same with her fiancé Jake.  Then they lock her up with a bunch of crazy senile old ladies for good measure, who gang up on Susan and call her names.  Is this Obamacare?

Meanwhile a maniac dressed in hospital scrubs and wearing an operating mask is slaying the staff and falsifying Susan’s medical records.  He spends most of his time stalking the 9th floor of the hospital, which has been closed to fumigate for bugs, but this doesn’t seem to stop hospital staff from being easily lured there with anonymous messages from the telecom speaker.  The gawking janitor gets a bubbling deep cleansing acid facial and a nurse gets stabbed and stuffed in a closet; fairly standard stalk and slash fare. One nurse gets wrapped in a sheet and injected with toxic sludge; she takes a few painful steps down the hall after then succumbs to the toxins.  The inclusion of the sheet seemed rather bizarre, as well as the way she stood there screaming at the evil surgeon running at her with an open sheet in his arms until it was too late for her to escape.  He doesn’t show the needle full of slime until after nabbing her, so she was apparently just screaming at a man running in her direction with a sheet wrapped in his arms like a sail, like he was a flying squirrel ready to take flight.  Perhaps she had a phobia about flying rodents.  Susan’s big bf gets bone-sawed, his decapitated head sent to her in a valentine from the killer.  The kill scenes towards the end are so back to back it gives the impression that the sadistic surgeon is out to eliminate the entire staff of the hospital, until it’s just him with Susan sprawled out on an operating table. 

They try to hide the true identity of the killer by peppering the cast with off kilter characters, but it’s fairly obvious who the blood thirsty physician really is, I mean they don’t even change up his name much, and they make him out to be the only character with a lick of common sense, so it’s just got to be him.  Susan, helplessly strapped to the operating table asks Harry what he wants from her.  After a dramatic pause a ghoulish grin spreads across his lips “What I always wanted…your heart!”  She miraculously breaks free, the final chase commences, and Harry ends up taking a swan dive off the roof of the hospital, screaming all the way down and lit on fire.  Exactly how I want to go, except there would be a lot more laughing and less screaming.  Make your death interesting, you only die once!

Hospital Massacre (aka X-Ray) is pretty silly, but it plays it all with a straight poker face which kind of makes it more endearing to me.   I caught myself laughing during several scenes until I realized they were expected to be taken seriously (then I laughed more), and the soap opera soundtrack gives it that daytime drama feel, like it came on right after Oprah but before Judge Judy.  The whole premise of detaining a patient during a checkup and refusing to let her leave was really wacky, but the entire story seemed to hinge on it like the death dealing doctor couldn’t just follow her home.  By the end when Susan is screaming hysterically that the entire hospital is nuts I couldn’t help but agreed with her. There’s enough kills to keep the pulse from flat lining, and just enough gruel stew to get me to come back and make another appointment with X-RAY!