VHS Review: Horror Hospital

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Behold, one of the most superlative and depreciated horror films in a world full of washed up and uninspired ideas.. It baffles me how forgotten and neglected Horror Hospital remains to be. Hippies, midgets, and lobotomies have never been so colorful. Excellent script writing with enough suspense and twists to keep you guessing the entire ride, sprinkled with dark humor. An ampleness of gore and spectacular effects are pleasing to the eye. The red blood is beautiful and gaudy with a multitude of sweet decapitations. Then there’s the stunning cinematography. How is it that this film managed to slip through my fingers for so many years? If I ever achieve my own horror picture, I’d imagine it would be inspired by the likes of Horror Hospital. I don’t even understand how some mistake this for a cheesy film. It doesn’t take itself seriously and still manages to horrify the viewers. The comedy is subtle but it’s still there. Some simply may not ‘get it.’

The film opens with Albert from the Batman films, Michael Gough, and a midget with the most hilarious look on his face throughout the film’s entirety. Make no mistake about it, the midget is the best character. He continually puts a smile on my face. So the duo seems to be chasing after a couple of runaways cloaked with bloody bandages but alas, Dr. Storm’s vehicle is sporting some nifty blades that manage to cut the girl’s heads clean off. It’s gruesome and the effects are beautifully done. “That’ll teach them to run away from us!” What the hell are you talking about little man? They’re fucking dead. What lesson could they possibly learn from this?

albert“It’s suppose to be cold.”

As the credits appear on screen, I am thinking to myself, “This is going to be good.” Cut to an obvious man in drag lying on stage at a rock show surrounded by dry ice. It reminded me of Beef in Phantom of the Paradise. The extremely unattractive and goofy Jason, played by Robin Askwith, ganders and broods as the band has stolen his music. Then he gets his ass beat by a queer.

I kept thinking Askwith looked familiar. Then I remember he had a part in the equally amazing Flesh and Blood Show. He also appeared in Confessions of a Pop Performer.

Back to the storyline, Jason decides he needs a vacation. He meets with a homosexual travel agent who has a pulsating boner for his goofy, side-burned mug and even offers an alternative to the “Hairy Holiday” getaway. The alternative being his boy toy. Jason is like, “No thanks.” Hairy Holiday sounds more promising.

On the train to his getaway he meets Judy, Vanessa Shaw. Right away I am thinking, “IT’S A TRAP!” I’ve seen enough horror film to know there is a twist and she was playing him all along. Turns out, I was wrong. Judy really is on her way to meet the only family she has, her aunt, who happens to be working at the facility Jason is heading for. The two get off the train together and take a ride with two mysterious bikers dressed in leather and white helmets. These bikers work for the evil doctor and Aunt Harris. Something is fishy here. They never take off their helmets.

Jason and Judy soon discover not is all well at this health resort. Doors to rooms are left open where bed sheets are soaking in blood. The sink water runs red. Then there’s an uncomfortable and extremely creepy dinner table scene with all of the patients. The patients have very noticeable scars on their foreheads and appear to be ghost white. One girl actually begins screaming before two bikers carry her away. Jason rightfully asks, “What the fuck is going on here?”

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The two go back to their room. Nevermind how scared the couple might be, they still find the time to have sex anyway. After trying to escape, discovering a horribly disfigured monster running around the facility, and seeing the travel agent lose his head…. Jason has had enough and demands answers. They have also taken Judy. Meanwhile, the doctor explains to Jason that he has turned all of the patients into his puppets. They do back flips and lift weights by his command. Dr. Storm announces that he plans on operating on Jason and Judy as well.

Luckily, a young man comes to the facility in search of his girlfriend who happens to be the screaming girl at the dinner table. His name is Abraham. His hair is hilarious, as well as his leaf chewing introduction accompanied by groovy psychedelic music. If you do not wish for your entire experience with Horror Hospital to be spoiled then stop reading NOW!

It’s too late for Millie, Abraham’s runaway girlfriend. Still, Abraham helps Jason and Judy escape after they discover those mysterious biker boys are the patients protecting his life’s work by his demands. They seem surprisingly strong for zombie-like humans. THEN, we learn the horribly disfigured monster running around is actually the doctor! He wears fake skin to cover up his scars. He also rapes his patients. What a bastard. In the end, they give the doctor a taste of his own medicine by decapitating him with his own contraption and even though he has lost his head, he’s still alive and able to kill one of his culprits.

Sure there may be some plot holes but who cares. This film is hilarious and exploding with originality.