Monday, February 14, 2011

HOSPITAL MASSACRE (1982) - finally, a Valentine's Day hospital slasher that reworks Kafka, or Barbi Benton descends into a web of confusion

Clip courtesy of "Mario80synth" on Youtube. Song courtesy of band "Agentz". Courtesy courtesy of Emily Post.

For young people, romantic rejection is a very catastrophic event that can sour future relationships. If the rejectee in question suffers from acute homicidal tendencies, you can also expect some heavy breathing and most definitely some kick ass stabbings. Well, the blonde moppet from Bloody Birthday is chilling with her boyfriend, playing with his toy train (stop it, you pervert). You can tell its Valentine’s Day because the room is filled with hearts, and there is also a lovesick stalker (the kid with glasses from Bloody Birthday) peeping through the window. He leaves a valentine at her doorstep, knocks on the door, and runs away, as he is too much of a pussy to ask her out on a date (whatever constitutes a date to 10-year-olds). The girl opens the valentine and chuckles with her little boyfriend, clearly pissing off the love spurned asshole outside. The girl curiously cuts the ceremonial Valentine's Day cake with a machete, eager to share a slice with her midget boy toy. Unfortunately, he now hangs from the coat rack in a rather untenable position (i.e. lynched).

First of all, I never knew there was such a “to do” in regards to Valentine’s Day. Yeah, I know, if you don’t have a valentine, you stalk some broad/dude, granted. However, I didn’t realize you were supposed to decorate the entire damn house, maybe even stick a giant inflatable heart on the front lawn. Also, I never got any cake for Valentine’s Day…or anything, for that matter. Heart shaped bagels would have been nice, with red flavored cream cheese. Wait a second…you do get those heart shaped candies with little sayings on them. They taste like sand and shit glued together, but they have cute Valentine’s Day related quotes, like “hearty heart har” and “go heart yourself”.

Cut to 19 years later, and the little blonde is all grown up and stacked (and a brunette), in the guise of Playboy Playmate and Hugh Hefner squeeze bomb Barbi Benton. She drops her daughter off with her ex-husband, and then heads with her new beaux (her third relationship in the first ten minutes of the film) to get medical tests at the hospital. She heads in while the boyfriend waits in the car, and we see all the holiday paraphernalia about, as apparently even hospitals celebrate Valentine’s Day.

In the elevator, Barbi is startled by a corpse with blood dripping from his mouth…oh never mind, it’s just a narcoleptic enjoying a hamburger, ketchup dripping from his mouth. Hmmm…the good old days. You could smoke in a hospital, grab the nurse’s ass, and they gave you huge hamburgers for lunch, even if you were a narcoleptic. Barbi must be a little jumpy after seeing a creepy doctor, and hearing about psychotic patients, and being reminded of her boyfriend being killed on Valentine’s Day 19 years earlier. I could see why she could witness red stuff coming out of the mouth of a person who wasn’t moving and jump to conclusions.

She gets off the elevator on her doctor’s floor, and, suddenly, she’s attacked by guys in facemasks! Oh wait, the entire floor is being fumigated. Perfectly rational. She tries a different floor, only to have someone pull a switch to stop the elevator. Her doctor then gets an intercom message to go the fumigated floor, which is really just covered in fog. The doctor eventually opens a locker, to see if the person using the intercom might be taking a nap in there, and someone dressed as a surgeon stabs her with a scalpel. Luckily, the elevator turns back on, and Barbi wanders around while the killer snags her files from the doctor’s office. She opens the door to the office and looks in while the killer hides. She then sits on the bench in front of the office and starts smoking, incredible considering you can't even smoke in bars anymore. A janitor finds the doctor’s body, and gets a melted face for his troubles. Of course, the killer should still be in the doctor’s office on the other floor, with Barbi on the lookout, so the fake surgeon must have found a secret passageway between the floors…or possibly crawled through the ventilation system. Brilliant.

So, basically, what we have here is some sort of Kafka slasher version of Cleo From 5 to 7. In a reversal of Agnes Varda’s heroine, Barbi is forcibly denied a surefire clean bill of health, rather than being forced to passively wait while her fate his determined. Blocking Barbi in this endeavor is a virtual army of red herrings. Even though the killer surgeon is clearly spotted, the film wants you to believe that every doctor, nurse, janitor, patient, etc. (even her ex-husband who’s across town) is a potential maniac. This is accomplished by having them squint menacingly, pumping ominous music in when they show up, or have them carve an orange with psychopathic glee. More importantly, they all impede Barbie’s quest to run in and grab her routine physical results for her new job, as if everyone was in cahoots with the killer. The two exceptions are her boyfriend, who patiently waits in the car most of the time, and a friendly intern who tries to bypass this bureaucratic wall. Of course, this helpful intern is revealed to be the killer. Helpful my ass.

Apparently, the ten-year-old murderer with the crush from hell went on the lam until age 18 or so, got his GED, completed medical school, and got that tasty internship at the hospital right before Barbi was going to show up for her test results. He then proceeded to convince everyone in the hospital to act like potential slasher suspects. It’s easy to dismiss Kafka as a paranoid schmuck, but films like Hospital Massacre, where the world is rightfully presented as a parade of red tape shackling the populace while the important decisions of the world are made behind closed doors, really show how much poor Franz was really on to something.

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