X-Ray (1982) poster

X-Ray (1982)


aka Hospital Massacre

USA. 1981.


Director/Story– Boaz Davidson, Screenplay – Marc Behm, Producers – Yoram Globus & Menahem Golan, Photography – Nicholas Von Sternberg, Music – Arlon Ober, Special Effects – Joe Quinlivan, Art Direction – J. Rae Fox. Production Company – Golan-Globus.


Barbi Benton (Susan Jeremy), Chip Lucia (Harry), Jon Van Ness (Jack), John Warner Williams (Dr Dan Saxon), Michael Frost (Ned), Jimmy Stathis (Tom), Den Surles (Dr Beam), Gloria Morrison (Nurse Dora), Karyn Smith (Nurse Kitty), Tammy Simpson (Eva), Miriam Beeler (Mrs Edelman), Ely Wold (Mrs Fedrow), Jonathan Moore (Mrs Parry), Gay Austin (Dr Jacobs)


Susan Jeremy goes to the hospital to pick up a set of test results. However, somebody hiding behind a surgical mask kills her doctor and substitutes a different set of x-rays. When another doctor looks at these, he becomes concerned about what they show and insists that Susan be admitted to the hospital immediately. As Susan tries to find out what is happening, the killer starts slaughtering people throughout the hospital and coming after her.

X-Ray/Hospital Massacre has the distinction of being one of the first productions from Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, the infamous Israeli producers who owned and operated the Cannon Film Group distribution chain. Golan and Globus had set up shop in the US and purchased Cannon in 1979. At the time they made X-Ray/Hospital Massacre, Golan and Globus had not quite become the trash producers churning out Chuck Norris and Charles Bronson action films and were still trying to find their market.

For a couple of years, Golan and Globus tried to tap the early 80s Slasher Film fad with efforts such as Schizoid (1980) and New Year’s Evil (1981) but soon abandoned this. Around the same time, they were also tapping into the fad for softcore erotica with productions such as The Happy Hooker Goes to Hollywood (1980), Lady Chatterly’s Lover (1982) and Bolero (1984).

These two strandes meet in X-Ray/Hospital Massacre. It is a slasher film that has been written around the presence of Barbi Benton, a former Playboy model and Hugh Hefner girlfriend who briefly flirted with both a singing and an acting career around the late 1970s/early 80s. It is possible that the film also drew inspiration from Halloween II (1981), the sequel to the film that sparked the slasher fad, where most of the action was set in a hospital.

Barbi Benton undergoes a medical examination in X-Ray (1982)
Barbi Benton undergoes a medical examination

The main problem with X-Ray/Hospital Massacre is that it is thinly plotted, leading you to suspect that most of it was being made up on the set. Worse, Boaz Davidson is a director to whom subtlety is making every single point with a sledgehammer. Everywhere Barbi Benton goes somebody is leering at her with intent. We get scenes like where she gets in an elevator and Michael Frost seems to be bleeding before revealing that he is eating a hamburger and spilling ketchup all over her shoes. Or where Gay Austin goes up to the 9th floor, which seems perpetually covered in mist (it is supposed to be being fumigated but the mist fills the entire floor even at night, which would surely be a major health hazard especially for a hospital) and the score goes into overdrive with shrieking psycho movie strings for something as little as her opening a locker.

The film has an entirely gratuitous scene where Barbi Benton is required to strip down and lie on a table for a medical exam – which only turns out to be taking her blood pressure and administering an injection, something that in the normal course of things has no requirement of a patient stripping nude. For all that, the slasher sequences are mild and low on gore. The film’s one moment of pure schlock is when Barbi Benton has a Valentine’s gift delivered – a large round cardboard box that is opened and revealed to contain the severed head of her boyfriend.

Director Boaz Davidson was a Golan-Globus associate back from the days in Israel. He directed a handful of Cannon films with The Last American Virgin (1982), Dutch Treat (1987) and Going Bananas (1987). He has been more active in recent years as a producer with Nu Image, which are responsible for making a great many action and genre films. He has directed a handful of other low-budget films that include the genre likes of American Cyborg: Steel Warrior (1992), the psycho-sexual thriller Blood Run (1994) and the post-holocaust action film LunarCop (1995). Screenwriter Marc Behm had an interestingly varied career that included the script for The Beatles film Help! (1965), Bert I. Gordon’s The Mad Bomber (1972), Cannon’s Lady Chatterly’s Lover and the novel that was adapted as Eye of the Beholder (1999).

Trailer here

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