Monday, 4 March 2013

National Health Warning At ...

Horror Hospital
(1973 / UK)

''The Operation is a Success ... When the Patient Dies''

When a movie starts with its villain of the piece sat in the back of his stately car, replete with its own driver and a subservient dwarf, who gives the order to chase down two bloodied and frightened young people desperately fleeing for their lives, you know that your in for a pre politically correct experience. When that villain is a ghoulishly cast Michael Gough as a Dr. Frankenstein like surgeon, revelling in every scene at his unreservedness in such a maniacal role, that experience is guaranteed to be heightened.

Any movie starting with a scene showing a diabolical double decapitation by means of a devilishly deviant design of lethal retractable blade, attached to the roof side of a speeding car and initiated into lateral position at the press of a button, is deserving in its place of memorable opening moments. Up there with those great Hammer Horror sequences where Van Helsing chases down Count Dracula, recounting the closure of the previous movie and spawning the start of a new chapter. A bloody action packed introduction then to the deliciously dark humoured delights that unfold in … Horror Hospital !.

Jason Jones (Robin Askwith) is in need of a short break from his hectic job in the music industry, and so decides to spend a few days at a health retreat. On route by train to the Southern coast of England he meets up with a pretty young woman named Judy Peters (Vanessa Shaw). By coincidence she too is travelling to the same retreat in order to see her auntie. When the two get off the train at their destination the platform is desolate, and the area seems overly quiet and tranquil. They are met by the station manager who gives them directions. When they trek off by foot the station manager telephones the health hospital, and with a sinister precognition informs them to expect another two !.

The wryly dark vein of smile inducing humour flows throughout proceedings, in an anarchic, unrestrained irreverence to British societies nonchalance during the early Seventies. Everything is over the top, including the seemingly quite often adlibbed acting, and infectious for it in making the movie far more palatable than had it been done overtly serious.

At Brittle House Manor, Dr. Christian Storm (Gough) experiments on the health resort guests, performing a lobotomy upon them that leaves each person completely, and mindlessly under his control. Left in a Zombie like state, emotionless and unable to feel pain they are pawns at the command of Dr. Storm. His mark left upon them with a grisly head scar, and a deathly white pallor to the skin.

Jason Jones and Judy Peters are ensnared into Dr. Storm’s macabre world, and each readied for the same procedure. With Judy due next upon the insane doctors operating table it is up to Jason, aided by another young man appearing on the scene in search of his girlfriend, to overcome the bizarrely garbed personal guards, kitted out in motorbike leathers and safety helmets at all times, and save Judy from Dr. Storm’s maniacal experimentations !.

It’s all good, bloody, schlock British made Seventies horror at its best. One of those rarities that gets more camp, and more enjoyable with age. Ending on a suitably gory high in similar fashion to how it began, and unravelling the horrible secret behind a deformed creature, only previously glimpsed throughout the movie.

Horror Hospital is highly deserving of your ‘patience’, and well worth checking into. Just be sure to get prescribed the full incisive cut of the film before undertaking such movie medication !.

Movie Rating: 6/10

Review by Paul Cooke / Source UK PAL Region 2 DVD

Horror Hospital (1973)
Director Antony Balch

With Michael Gough, Robin Askwith & Vanessa Shaw