X-Ray (1981)

X-Ray (1981)

Dave author picSpend long enough exploring any genre and you’re bound to hit the bottom of the barrel soon enough. Such is my experience with slashers, as exemplified by Boaz Davidson’s X-Ray (aka Hospital Massacre). One of a handful of discs I picked up from 88 Films’ “Slasher Classics” collection, it’s definitely a slasher but it’s ‘classic’ status remains debateable.

X-Ray is pure exploitation, which you might have guessed from how its poster proudly promises Playboy pin-up Barbi Benton. It’s actually oddly unsexy; there’s a single scene of nudity from Benton, in which she’s felt up by a creepy doctor, and it’s clinical and disturbing rather than erotic.

Perhaps that’s the point, but on the whole X-Ray seems to miss the point of a good slasher. The best slashers explore the intersection of sex and death – usually through dumb teenagers – but Davidson takes a different route, instead probing the anxiety of being stuck in a hospital with doctors who won’t tell you anything.

This is a killer idea, but the execution is dead on arrival; rather than opting for sterile fluorescent lighting, X-Ray is shot on muddy, under-lit sets and it feels like a cheap Hollywood backlot rather than an oppressive hospital.

1.5 stars

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