To cap off the busiest week to date on this blog, it’s customary to try and separate the sheep from the goats and weed out the fair-weather friends by reviewing something awful. And 1973’s Horror Hospital is truly awful, a grotty pot-boiler obsessed with crude medical procedures and resistible sexual scenes. And yet any film that features that emblem of Britishness, a Rolls Royce, kitted out with retractable decapitation blades can only have some kind of satirical nous, and so Horror Hospital is today’s film under review.
Once, viewing a HD print of Horror Hospital would be the preserve of millionaires or madmen; the internet, You Tube and specifically online library FlickVault are responsible for putting this obscure film within a click of your viewing pleasure. Confessions star Robin Asquith plays pop-star Jason Jones, who is so exhausted by his twin vices of music and cocaine that he signs up for a break with the Hairy Holidays company; ‘Maybe there’ll be some birds there,’ Jones muses distantly in a moment that displays a dismaying lack of wokeness. On the train to his vacation, Jones meets the attractive Judy (Vanessa Shaw), and the two of them quickly check into the one remaining room at the Horror Hospital, which looks more like a Horror Gymnasium, or possible Horror Country Estate, since it’s recognisably Knebworth House. Within these walls, Dr Christian Storm (Michael Gough) is conducting experiments, with his dictatorial role enforced by zombie motorcyclists Storm 1 and Storm 2, as well as the weaponised motor mentioned above.
Directed by Anthony Balch and produced by horror specialist Richard Gordon, Horror Hospital has never looked so sharp, with crisp, clean images replacing the murk that made it un-viewable. But now that the veil is lifted, there sights are hardly cherishable, including Dennis Price as a lavacious travel agent and an opening psychedelic wig-out from the band Mystic. There’s some vague sense of morality in that Horror Hospital rejects the Doctor’s obscene brand of human experimentation, although the endorsement of 1970’s youth culture seems like a less-than-palatable alternative.
A number of films in the FlickVault archive have been removed for copyright reasons, but Horror Hospital seems to be finding an audience, no doubt attracted by garish clothes, hideous attitudes and childish glee in horror. Those seeking non-PC entertainment may well find nuggets of interest, but those feeling nostalgia for such arcane entries in the horror canon may well find their enthusiasm misplaced. This film is also known as Computer Killers, but makes no more sense under that title.