Spend 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.