Hospital Massacre aka X-ray (1981)

Hospital Massacre 1981 Review

Tagline: You have nothing to fear…until they operate.
Director: Boaz Davidson

Writers: Marc Behm (screenplay) Boaz Davidson (story)

Starring: Barbi Benton, Charles Lucia, Jon Van Ness, John Warner Williams, Den Surles, Gloria Jean Morrison, Karen Smith, Michael Frost, Jimmy Stathis

18 | 1hr 29min |Horror, Slasher
Budget: unknown


Some movies are so obvious you never see it coming.

Made during the early 80s slasher boom, Hospital Massacre is another slash-by-numbers feature buried beneath the reams of explicit VHS tape, but one that retains a certain charm, most notably because of its impossibly beautiful leading lady Barbi Benton, a former glamour model who smoulders so hard she threatens to melt the screen.

But in spite of the blaring contrivances and unimaginative screenplay there are some other noteworthy elements which hold the attention. The editing is largely effective, creating enough tension to distract you from the often ludicrous moments which serve to mar the movie’s potential. But in pure Golan-Globus fashion, it is those moments that serve to elevate the movie above the realms of mediocrity, establishing it as a goofy delight with enough of the visceral to satisfy its target audience.

Hospital Massacre 1981 Review

Susan stumbled onto the wrong ward in search of assistance.

The story begins in 1961, when a young Susan finds a Valentine’s card from admirer Harry, only to mock his sentiment with another male friend. Unluckily for that little blighter, Harry is not the most stable of children, and after his prepubescent frame somehow finds the height and strength to hang his love rival from an eight foot hat rack, his grinning face sticks around long enough for Susan to establish him as the guilty party.  

Twenty years have passed and Susan is a happily married woman and mother of one who fails to exhibit even a morsel of mental scarring, laughing off her husband’s reminder of a recent massacre that took place in the Los Angeles County hospital where she is due some test results. You might say this is pretty careless behaviour, but in spite of her gruesome past, a now adult Susan (Benton) does have a point. I mean, what are the odds that two massacres would take place at the same location in as many years. Pretty slim, right? As are the chances that one of the doctors would share the name of the demented child who had killed Susan’s friend all those years ago. Although, if this was the same person, surely she would recognise him! I mean, how could she not?

Hospital Massacre 1981 Review

The Los Angeles County hospital had a strict screening process for all of their potential employees.

Regardless of the who, what, where and why, bodies soon begin to fall at an alarming rate, and when Susan’s X-Ray comes back looking like a tapeworm, doctors begin to fear for her life. In light of these findings, she is forced to spend the night on a hospital ward with three croaky old hags who ooze foreboding like the three witches of Macbeth. But the lunacy doesn’t stop there. As hospitals go, this one is a veritable nuthouse, a building under partial fumigation where drunks and perverts wander the corridors unchallenged.

In a thinly disguised twist, it turns out that somebody has switched Susan’s results in an attempt to prolong her stay at the hospital, and with our delightfully frenzied killer masquerading in full surgeon regalia, it is impossible to identify the true culprit. Although, when doctor Saxon (Williams) demands that Susan strip nude for a routine round of testing and practically begins fondling her, your suspicions start to stir somewhat, especially when he dismisses her claims of seeing her husband’s head in a gift box and straps her to a gurney like a mental patient. But with half of the movie left to run, it couldn’t be that simple, could it?

All I’ll say is, prepare yourself for one of the most confusingly obvious twists ever put to celluloid.

Hospital Massacre 1981 Review

Are you sure I have to be naked for this?

Best Kill

After finding one of the hospital’s nurses slashed to ribbons and hanging upside-down in an improbably placed locker, a perverted janitor has his mush deliquesced in a pool of sulphuric acid.

Most Absurd Moment

Whilst taking the hospital elevator, Susan is a aghast to see a seemingly dead man leaning against the corner with an inordinate amount of blood dripping from his mouth, only to realise at the last moment that the man is actually a drunken slob eating a burger and the blood is in fact ketchup.

Yes, it’s as silly as it sounds.

Most Absurd Dialogue

Moments before leaving his once traumatised, murder-witnessing wife at the hospital, husband Jack suddenly remembers something.

Jack: ‘Hey, wait! isn’t this the hospital where they had all that trouble last year?’

Susan: ‘What trouble?’

Jack: ‘Some patient ran amok or something.’

Susan: (scoffing) ‘Oh, please!’ (laughing)


rtape rtape rtape btape btape

A technically proficient, often brutal slasher with a wonderfully psychotic killer, this wholly unoriginal movie is as devoid of sense as you might expect from a Golan-Globus production, a fact that elevates and detracts in equal measure. But pay special attention to the wrathful, Omen-esque original score, which ricochets off the darkened corridors like an Argento sensory overload. It is certainly one to cherish.

Cedric Smarts

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