Horror Hospital (1973) – Anthony Balch

Micheal Gough, known to a whole generation as Alfred Pennyworth in the Batman films, is the mad scientist who terrorizes in Horror Hospital, where I check in to examine the next film in DK Canada’s Monsters in the Movies books.

This one is so bad that it’s actually enjoyable. Gough plays the wheel-chair bound, secret-filled Dr. Storm, who along with a matronly woman, known as Aunt Harris (Ellen Pollock) run a ‘health resort’ that has a far more insidious purpose: to allow Storm to continue his experiments in mind control and all the bloody work that surrounds it.

A shaggy haired rock star, Jason James (Robin Askwirth) who seems to have a questionable stain on the ass of his jeans for the first half of the film, decides he needs a bit of a break and learns about Storm’s health resort.

On the train up, he meets Judy (Vanessa Shaw) and soon enough they are wooing one another, falling into one another’s arms even as they are surrounded by troubling and bloody incidents, and a classic car with blades to behead people.

Fun.

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There’s blood, language, nudity, and English actors who seem to be either taking things too seriously or chewing scenery. In fact none of the actors seem to be performing in the same movie.

It’s so bad that it’s enjoyable, as thugs wearing motorcycle helmets – all the time – seize residents for experiments, who, sporting scars on their forehead, pale complexions and docile personas.  Working through it all is the diminutive Frederick (Skip Martin) who steals scenes, and spots the most non sequiter lines at the strangest moments.

As things unravel, another person shows up at the center, Abraham (Kurt Christian), who is looking for his missing girlfriend. He and Jason end up in a cell, while Judy is prepped for the operation.

Things spiral out of control as Storm’s true nature is revealed, and a final blood bath ensues. But maybe, just maybe, our heroes (?) will survive, and the baddies will get their just desserts.

There is some terrible dialogue in the film, but some above average (for a 70s horror movie) production value. And the key to this one is to not take it seriously on any level, it’s all so laughable, and consequently pretty enjoyable as a result.

And that is the proven beauty of DK Books’ Monsters in the Movies, so many films I have never heard of, or seen, are finding their way onto my viewing list, and while some are better than others, they all help to expand my cinematic education, and I am loving every minute of it.

So pick up a copy today and find a new to you macabre film to watch tonight.

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