X-Ray (aka Hospital Massacre, 1982)

You know what I haven’t had in a while?  The sudden urge to kill myself out of utter desperation.

Er…  I mean a Cannon Films movie.  I…  Um.  That’s what’s I meant.  Uh…  Anyway, one thing that you can definitely say about the Cannon gurus Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus is that they sure think they know what people want.  In the example of X-Ray (aka Hospital Massacre), they assumed we all wanted a slasher film in a hospital with a hot babe.

Their assumptions were right, but we also kind of want some sort of story that makes sense.  Is that here in this movie?  No?  Yes?  Not really?

Not even close.

Fuck.  Really reconsidering that desperate suicide attempt now.  The good news is that we do have a busty babe in the form of Barbi Benton, so it’s not really all that bad I guess.  I’m sure Globus and Golan and director Boaz Davidson will have some dumb, and very inappropriate reason to have her nude in this movie.

This just in…  They do have a completely stupid way to get her naked in this.

Just to bring you up to speed on what this movie is about, here’s what Shout Factory’s description is to sell the movie (in a two-pack with the Klaus Kinski flick Schizoid): “This movie will scare the life out of you! Susan Jeremy (Barbi Benton) goes to a local hospital for a ‘routine examination.’ Once inside, she discovers that someone doesn’t want her to check out… unless it’s in a body bag.  A psychotic killer keeps her trapped inside the hospital, having fixed her x-rays to make it look like she has a terminal illness.  Meanwhile, he brutally murders everyone she comes in contact with!”  I mean, I guess that sounds enticing.  Nothing more enticing than seeing a babe get checked for a terminal illness in a hospital, so…  Fuck it, I’m in.

The movie begins at “Susan’s House, 1961” which is both very specific and really counting on us to immediately A) know who Susan is and B) give a shit for her.  She’s inside playing with a train set with a boy.  Outside, a creepy kid looks in at them.  He leaves a Valentine’s Day card at the front door and ding-dong ditches.  She takes the card inside and opens it while the creepy kid, Harold, looks in.  Susan and the other boy laugh at the card from Harold and he decides to go into the house and throw her boyfriend’s body up onto a hatstand and hangs him by the fucking face.

Twenty years later, Susan is all grown up… and super foxy.    There’s some horseshit between Susan and her ex-husband and how they basically hate each other and have no problems fighting in front of their daughter and whatever.  Most importantly, this leads to red herring #1 – the shot stays on Tom, her ex for a way long time having him look all devious and shit when her new boyfriend picks her up to take her to the hospital for her to pick up some test results or something?

When she checks in, we have red herring #2, a creep janitor who just can’t help but stare at Barbi Benton.  That is immediately followed up by red herring #3 in the elevator, a drunk who wanders around the hospital like he’s R.P. McMurphy eating ketchup-drenched hamburgers and drunkenly wishes Barbi a happy Valentine’s Day.  When the elevator stops, red herrings #4, #5, and #6 show up saying that a floor is being fumigated for varmints.  The killer, who is just a grown up version of the asshole from the beginning of the movie who somehow lifted another boy onto a hatstand, halts the elevator between floors, and calls Barbi’s real doctor to the floor where all the fumigating is going on where he kills her.

Now, I could continue with the numbering of the herrings.  Sure.  I guess that’s kind of funny as a recurring joke and shit, but that’s not nearly as funny as the entire premise of this stupid movie.  Let’s recount it all…

Barbi Benton witnessed a little boy kill another little boy when she was young.  That does not seem to bother her one bit, but she does have a shitty relationship with her ex.  None of that shit is ultimately really all that important, and, frankly, could be completely excised from this movie.

Why is she at the hospital?  Well, she’s there to pick up some exam results from her doctor – that’s why!  Buuuuut…  Why is she at the hospital?  I can kind of understand if she was in the hospital for a serious illness only to be kept and the doctor says he has to run tests and shit, but she would be checked INTO the hospital.  Apparently, her regular physician is there.

But when we see the, she’s in her office waiting to hear from Barbi and has those little paper slippers on over her shoes like she was in surgery.  That’s not right.  I mean, yes, some physicians perform surgeries, sure.  But usually, that would be done in rare situations and probably not on a day in which people would expect to show up and get lab results and whatnot.  On top of that!  She goes to the 9th floor where she was called by murder man and wanders about on a floor that is utterly wrecked and full of fumigation smoke.  She continues to search around for who knows what.

I kind of think I would change doctors because this one is a fucking moron.

However, it’s like doctor, like patient.  Barbi is a fucking idiot too.  She first goes to the 9th floor where she ran into the exterminators only to realize that, duh, she was supposed to go to the 8th floor.  So she pressed the wrong button and traveled nine floors before she realized she fucked up.  She is then trapped in the same elevator for long enough for the doctor to look all around the 9th floor and be killed.  She just goes to her doctor’s office like nothing big happened at all in her day.  I’d probably be telling whoever would listen about all the crazy shit I’ve seen since I came to a fully functioning hospital to just pick up some test results.

SPEAKING OF…  Let’s talk about this hospital.

Barbi goes to a hospital to see her regular physician where an entire floor is in disrepair, her boyfriend just parks in front in a pick-up/drop-off lane for HOURS (no shit, from afternoon to nighttime he’s waiting there for her), a drunk wanders about freely, an old man who seems to be infirm is walking down hallways aimlessly, old people are left to essentially live until they die of old age, and, oh, a lunatic went on a rampage “last year” as the boyfriend says to her on the way there.

It also apparently has a head wound ward positioned in an area where there are also stairs that could create worse head wounds.

This place is a fucking nightmare.  Barbi is also fairly a-ok with all this bullshit too.  Me? I would have just fucking left this place and been on my way with my BMW-drivin’ boyfriend dork.  But wait!  There’s more!

Killer man switched Barbi’s results with that of a terminally ill person.  Now, the doctors refuse to let her leave.  What in the actual fuck, man?  Can a hospital, any hospital, even a nightmare fuck up of this hospital, hold you prisoner if you are ill?  I mean, I recently watched Creed.  In that movie, Rocky was told he has cancer and he’s told that if they start treatment right away, he’ll probably live.  He’s all like, “Nah, I’m cool.  Thanks, tho!”  The doc, as you would expect is concerned he doesn’t want to have treatment, but you know what she didn’t do?

She 1) didn’t not tell him he was ill and what can be done to make him better, 2) did not demand he go to a hospital right away to stay there as long as THEY say, or 3) send some roughnecks to go get him and detain him against his will.  You know what she also didn’t do?  She didn’t push him off to another doctor who made him strip naked so the new doctor can fondle his sweet breasts.

And you thought that wouldn’t happen in this dumb fucking movie.

So when Barbi’s original doctor can’t be found, an intern who is, no shit, sweet on her gets her connected to a different doctor.  He doesn’t tell her what the results say, he just has her go to a room and tells her to strip for more tests.  Tests that just turn out to be him groping her.

Like, no shit…  He has her lie down and he does a thorough examination of her by rubbing her feet, and ankles, and calves, and then listens with his stethoscope just above her bush and he hits his fingers to see if it register any moisture in her lady bits (I can only assume, I am not a doctor).  It’s an incredibly long, and very uncomfortable scene.  It’s really pretty gross.  And that’s utterly amazing since I’m the asshole who goes on, at length, over how I’m pretty into women in prison flicks or all that shit I said that one month when I covered Alyssa Milano movies.  Basically, I’m a fucking creep and this shit creeped me out!

But if you think I’m not done nitpicking the fuck out of the hospital itself, well…  I ain’t.

Again, I am not a doctor.  I won’t even pretend to.  I only have a Master’s in Bullshit Movies Studies.  Yes, yes, I know there were times in the past in which I presented myself as someone who held a Ph. D in cinemaenematics, but I learned my lesson, I paid my debt to society, and now I provide those services without a fee, but that’s beside my point.

My point is, generally doctors don’t go missing for several hours and not cause a massive alarm for a hospital.  Barbi’s doc is just nowhere to be found.  Naturally, the characters don’t know what happened, but we have to assume the hospital staff just doesn’t go missing without it raising some serious questions besides the other doctors and nurses sighing and bitching about someone not being around.

Also, call me goofy, but generally speaking, most hospitals won’t have a guy just roaming about who has a penchant for wearing doctor’s garb with a real crazy look on his face and have access to all the sharp things that can be used to kill everyone.  Obviously this hospital is a shit shack of insanity, but if killer man works here, did they not check his history?  Did they not see that blaring incident when he hoisted a fucking kid up onto a hatstand and murdered him over jealousy of some girl who laughed when he gave her a Valentine?  I’ve been laughed at by many girls, and I’ve taken my revenge on their douche-tacular boyfriends plenty of times, and I can say…

Actually, I probably shouldn’t say.  Let’s back up and refocus on the movie.

Okay, so maybe this hospital has all sorts of wards and shit – burn ward, head wound ward, ICU, place where babies are born, etc.  However, like I said, there are legit crazies walking around.  In fact, I kind of think this place is run by the crazies.  All the doctors and nurses are fucking assholes.  The guys all leer at Barbi (I kinda don’t blame them, but dudes…  time and place).  All the women are monsters.  They treat her like she’s garbage and as if she needs to be roughed up.  It’s insane.  Like I think I have said insane or crazy a billion times in this article, but it doesn’t even begin to cover it.

On top of that, Barbi is forcibly admitted into the hospital over these mysterious test results that are bad enough to raise alarm, but only inconclusive enough for a doctor to grope the shit out of a pretty girl.  She’s sent to a room to stay with these three old bitches (one of which, no shit, is a man in drag like Klinger from MASH).  They talk about her in front of her face about how she’s beautiful on the outside, but rotten on the inside.  When her boyfriend comes to get her, she leaves, but the nurses and her new doctor stop them and manhandle her back to the room where she eventually ends up tied to the bed.  What the actual fuck, man?

This image perfectly sums up how I feel:

Okay, so killer man has killed Barbi’s boyfriend and leaves her head in a gift box for her.  Her pleas for help and there being a killer loose gets her tied to a gurney and left with the crazy old bitches living at the hospital.  The new doc discovers that there are shenanigans at play in the hospital, but he gets killed too.  The inevitable chase through the hospital eventually takes place – about 20 minutes too early.

Seriously, I can completely and totally recap this entire movie without seeing it recently.  It’s a woman just wanting some results on some tests, turns out a crazed admirer works at the hospital and decides to fuck with her, and the whole place is a fucking nightmare because no one cares to find out what happened to missing doctors and nurses, and the one person who has an explanation is detained, tied down, and basically plan on lobotomizing her just based on… I dunno…  they suck as medical practitioners?  They suck at humanity?  The insane people in the loony bin are actually running the place?  I cannot say for sure.

That, more or less, makes it sound like I’m a fucking expert on this movie.  I’m not, but I am almost obsessed with how this movie could have passed any kind of quality check.  I know there are places like The Asylum, and other fuck job shit studios, that just want to crank out movies because love them or hate them, buy them or rent them or never do either, they make money off the movies.  For as bad as Cannon was at making movies that could turn a profit, this movie is incomprehensible.

Okay, with any movie, there has to be some suspension of disbelief, but the premise of this movie is so utterly inconceivable that I don’t even know if I can ever watch it without constantly talking through it, asking questions, or cracking wise.  Like, this movie is a fucking joke, right?  Is it designed to turn the viewers into rambling moronic insane people who want to do nothing but touch Barbi Benton and send her heads in boxes and shit?

Okay, dumb question.  Better question…  The killer turns out to be, yes, the kid we saw at the beginning (which we knew immediately following his first onscreen kill), but it is also “Harry” who was the intern who took a shine to her and seemed to be the hero.  So here’s where my question comes into play…  We saw her with Harry when killer Harold was looking for her.  They were in her doctor’s office about to find her real medical history shit when killer man peeked in.  I guess you can say people in doctor scrubs and surgical masks can all look the same.  Maybe.  However, it’s a bullshit twist, honestly.  It’s like a different kind of herring…  Maybe a blue herring?  No, that doesn’t quite fit…  A brown herring?

You know, because it’s shit.

This movie is so improbable and so dumb that I love it.  Maybe I’m a little glamoured by Barbi Benton because, holy cow, she is gorgeous, but it’s a fun kind of dumb.  The original idea of having a massacre in a hospital isn’t a bad idea.  Halloween II proved that.  However, Halloween II kind of made sense.  X-Ray tries so hard to throw in so much to fill out an 89-minute run time that it really only leads you to nearly pulling out your hair.

X-Ray trips my OCD and tilts me into obsession levels of pondering and questioning of an absolutely inconceivable plot that is sooooo dumb, it could only be saved by being Italian. Which it is not.  It was made by Israelis, but it has a very Italian feel to it.  The weird side characters, the various killings, the incomprehensible plot points, the giallo style red herrings…  I feel like this movie is a Lucio Fulci or Lamberto Bava credit away from being considered a masterpiece.  Hell, even a Bruno Mattei credit would put this into a different place.

Did I just get real smart and Italian snobby right at the end of this dumb article?  I sure fucking did.  I could probably write, like, 3000 more words about this movie, but I guess I should hang up my B-Movie Enema stethoscope for this week.  Next week, we have a British movie that actually IS inspired by Italian giallo films – Norman J. Warren’s Terror!

2 thoughts on “X-Ray (aka Hospital Massacre, 1982)

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