X-Ray / Schizoid Double Feature: X-Ray Blu-ray Review
Directed by Boaz Davidson
Written by Marc Behm and Boaz Davidson
1982, Region A, 89 minutes, Rated R
Blu-ray released on August 20th, 2013
Barbi Benton as Susan Jeremy
Chip Lucia as Harry
John Van Ness as Jack
John Warner Williams as Dr. Saxon
Den Surles as Dr. Beam
Gay Austin as Dr. Jacobs
Bill Errigo as the Janitor
The health care system is in serious need for an overhaul, as patients routinely wait hours before receiving their high-priced treatments. Susan Jeremy has recently had a medical checkup and arrives at the hospital with the intention of running in for just a moment to pick up the results. Unfortunately for Susan, things are going to take a little longer than anticipated and with a records mix-up, she could be spending the night here. There are better ways to spend Valentine's Day than waiting in the hallway for the doctor to return, but things are going to get decidedly worse for Susan and she may never get to leave the building.
Everyone in the hospital, patients and staff alike, behave in a suspicious and sinister manner. The nurses are condescending and the janitor is socially awkward, to put it gently. Susan's personal life isn't that much better on a normal day since her doofy ex-husband can’t even handle the basic tasks when it comes to shared custody. Her own childhood was scarred by tragedy when she balked at a lovesick boy's advances and he ended up not dealing well with rejection. Suffice it to say, this prelude holds the key to the mysterious events once a nutjob in scrubs starts killing off staff members in his pursuit of Susan.
Playboy covergirl Barbi Benton (Deathstalker) stars in this less-than-thrilling slasher film that briefly catapulted her acting career out of guest spots on TV shows like The Love Boat and Fantasy Island. It should not come as a complete surprise that the film features nudity from its Playmate starlet, but the gratuitous nature of the topless physical exam becomes hilarious as the scene plays out for five glorious minutes. I mention this early in the review because it really is a highlight of the film. Benton has little more to do than look pretty and act alternately concerned and annoyed before stepping into 'Final Girl' mode.
The supporting cast does their best with the material, but for the most part they are pretty lifeless even before their characters are killed off. Chip Lucia (Society) and Jon Van Ness (Tourist Trap) are more successful than the others, but that really isn't saying much when many people are introduced only to be murdered in the next scene. It is nice to see Billy Jacoby (Just One of the Guys) and Elizabeth Hoy (The Blues Brothers) playing young Harold and Susan as the two reunite from their work together on Bloody Birthday. For many cast members, this is the only title on their resume, but nobody sticks out as particularly terrible...okay, maybe the janitor.
Director Boaz Davidson (The Last American Virgin) follows the numbers of the slasher movie subgenre and manages to hit every cliché in his path. Some of the material works, but there are never any truly frightening moments in this film. There are some pretty impressive images that stick out and that may best be credited to cinematographer Nicholas von Sternberg (Dolemite). The script was written by Marc Behm (Help!) and based on a story by Davidson, and the plot falls apart if you look at it too closely. Davidson has since gravitated to the producer's chair where he has built an unbelievable resume of blockbuster hits.
X-Ray is one of those ‘80s horror films that played regionally in theatres across the country, opening in select cities as opposed to a nationwide blowout. There are several titles connected to this film including Be My Valentine...or Else and the generic Ward 13, but it is perhaps most widely known as Hospital Massacre. Although there isn't a lot of graphic violence on display, there is a fair amount of bloodshed, 12 minutes of which were removed from the original VHS release of X-Ray. While the hospital setting is fine, it was better exploited in films like Visiting Hours and Halloween II. It's definitely worth a look, but won’t garner repeat viewing.
Video and Audio:
X-Ray is presented in the original 1.78:1 aspect ratio and while still a bit hazy and flat, looks better than the crappy VHS release. A lot of the diffusion is deliberate and lends a dreamy quality to the tone of the film, but consequently images are a bit soft and colors remain fairly muted throughout. This transfer does allow for more comprehension of the darker scenes that were previously confusing in content.
The only audio option included is a DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo track, and that is just as well. Dialogue remains free of distortion and while the music cues are a bit dopey, they are immersive and crystal-clear.
There is only one supplemental interview included for X-Ray, but it's a good one.
Bad Medicine (13 minutes) is a pretty interesting interview with Boaz Davidson. He reflects on his time with the cast and locations, on working with Golan-Globus productions and how he ended up in the director's chair. His stories are pretty awesome and definitely worth watching.
Click to read the Schizoid review.