Horror Hospital

Horror Hospital
Director Anthony Balch, known both as a collaborator on film projects with William S. Burroughs and as a shrewd cinema programmer and distributor, made this cheesy but imaginative and good-natured horror show on a shoestring. Swinging singles Jason (Robin Askwith) and Judy (Phoebe Shaw, credited as Vanessa Shaw) take a holiday at an old, vaguely threatening English manor. By the time they figure out that the other houseguests have been lobotomized, it’s too late — creepy Dr. Christian Storm (Michael Gough — I know him from Trog) and matriarch Aunt Harris (Ellen Pollock) are holding them captive in a weird kind of research laboratory with security provided by Daft Punk. Storm apparently wants to turn the poor kids into mindless sex slaves and only Frederick, a sympathetic dwarf servant, may be able to bust them out before that happens — assuming the mysterious, shambling mud monster doesn’t do them in first. Too bad Balch really blows his load in the film’s very first scene, prematurely debuting his pièce de résistance — a Rolls Royce with pop-out machete blades that serves as a mobile decapitation machine, right down to the sacks positioned to catch the heads as they roll off the bodies while the limo tears up the English countryside. Meanwhile, the goings-on inside the house are pretty rote — but there’s a wee bit of nudity to spice up the first half and the film’s cheerfully ludicrous attitude goes a long way. And complaining about the film’s cheap stereotypes would likely be missing the point.
Elite Entertainment released a nice version of this on DVD back in 1999; it’s now out of print.
Note: Since I wrote this review, Horror Hospital has been reissued on DVD by Dark Sky Films.

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