Horror Hospital (1973)
By: M. Walsh on November 4, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
Umbrella Entertainment (Australia). All Regions, PAL. 1:85:1 (Non-anamorphic). English DD 2.0. 90 minutes
The Movie
Credits
Director: Antony Balch
Starring: Michael Gough, Robin Askwith, Vanessa Shaw, Ellen Pollock, Dennis Price
Screenplay: Antony Balch
Country: UK
Being born in England, I have always had a strong penchant for British films, particularly comedies and horrors. That these two genres should meet in Anthony Balch's certifiable Horror Hospital is one of the many reasons that I had such a great time watching it. Also, there's a monster!

Following his forced retirement from an appalling rock band, Jason (Robin Askwith) decides to take a "Hairy Holiday" to Brittlehouse Manor, a health farm run by the leather-gloved, ex-Nazi scientist Dr. Storm (Michael Gough, always a pleasure to watch). En route, Jason meets Judy (Vanessa Shaw), also on her way to Brittlehouse Manor to visit her aunt, a pursed-lipped old woman who married Dr. Storm some years ago. Once they arrive, the pair realise rather quickly that something is amis, their suspicions probably aroused by the labotomised condition of the other guests, the blood pouring from the taps or possibly just because the token midget (Skip Martin) keeps telling them to brush their teeth. Then there's this bit where a monster stands in a doorway and the soundtrack goes crazy.

Horror Hospital is genuinely funny in a droll, deadpan sort of way. It's refreshing to see a comedy-horror that isn't in the slightest bit self-referential or, God forbid, "ironic". The fact that the film's attempts at legitimate shock moments are so poorly handled that they elicited from me an audible, cloying "...awww..." is all the more reason to recommend it.

There are plenty of gems in this film to help to seal the deal, from the Rolls Royce that decapitates people through the use of retractable, side-mounted blades (the logistics of which I am still unable to fathom) right up to the seriously bad fight sequences (of which there are more than you'd expect). And, as I have already mentioned (complete with exclamation point) there's a putty-head monster that nearly had me weeping tears of joy.

I have absolutely no problem with logic taking a backseat if the driver is an incongruous, punch-drunk moron and if you feel likewise then you should book yourself into Horror Hospital without delay.
Video
Although this transfer is lacking any anamorphic enhancement, the image quality itself is, for an obscure title such as this, very, very good. The detail level is surprisingly high, there's no edge enhancement to speak of and although the print seems to have sustained some damage it is very minimal. The blacks are rock solid and the shadow detail is spot on. A much better transfer than I was anticipating.
Audio
The original 2 channel sound mix. No more, no less. Dialogue can be slightly difficult to hear at times but there really aren't any other problems to speak of.
Extra Features
A trailer for Horror Hospital that made me want to watch the film all over again.
The Verdict
It's a simple question really: do you think dwarfs, zombie gymnastics and incredibly poor fight scenes are funny or not?
Movie Score
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