Friday, September 16, 2016

hobly city.

Was on the phone to the famous design guru and mastermixer Master Jamie (of Mad Foxes fame) today and bizarrely this film came up.

Noticed the review had originally been posted way back in 2010 so thought I'd drag it into the light, add a few more 'laugh nows' and pass it off as a new one.

I've kinda given the game away now tho.

Horror Hospital (AKA Computer Killers, Frankenstein's Horror-Klinik, 1973).
Dir: Anthony Balch.
Cast: Michael Gough, Robin Askwith, Vanessa Shaw, Ellen Pollock, Dennis Price, Kurt Christian, Barbara Wendy, Kenneth Benda and Skip Martin.

"Now make a clean job of it, Frederick, the car was washed this morning."



It's a grim, grey day in 1970s England, empty Smith's Crisps salt n' shake bags drift across an untidy bit of unkempt woodland as a couple of blood covered 'teens' fashionably decked in dirty, egg stained bandages run from an unseen assailant.

Or from someone attempting to wash their hair.

Meanwhile perched on a nearby hill snug in his shiny Rolls-Royce is the enigmatic (re: camp as pink pants) Dr. Christian Storm (the late, great Gough dressed as your nan) and his delightful dwarf assistant Frederick (genre stalwart and one time owner of Yorkshire's best stocked tobacconist Martin).

But why?

Are they dogging?

Taking in the scenery?

Or just taking it generally?

I mean I can never tell these days.

Noticing the car our dirty duo attempt to run for the hills  but as the Rolls-Royce approaches, huge plastic blades extend from the bodywork and slice off the unfortunate couples heads.

Which means they were either very short or the car is very tall.

"That’ll teach them to try and run away from us," says Frederick in a voice that suggests that the disc must be running at the wrong speed, pushing the heads into a Sainsbury's bag for life as he goes.

Cue the titles and a blast of the DeWolf library music used in Dawn of The Dead.

Which is fairly disconcerting if I'm honest.

"Oi Henri Paul, are you sure this is the quickest way to the chip shop?"


Leaving Grimsville for swinging London, we soon come across (which makes a nice change seeing as it's usually him doing the coming) an angry young man with a lion's mane of hair, the sexy songwriter Jason (The great god that is Sir Robin of Askwith) who's decided to spend his evening drunkenly shouting (fairly) homophobic abuse at top prog-rock band Mystic (or are they actually just a mystic prog-rock band?) in revenge for them stealing one of his songs.

But not this one.

Unfortunately (for Jason) the 'silly red faggot' of a lead singer is actually hard as nails, answering the heckles by giving Jason a bloody good kicking.

Now even angrier and with a bloody nose to boot, Jason decides what he really needs is a break and noticing a flyer for Hairy Holidays - Sun and Fun For The Under 30s, decides to book one the very next day.

Visiting the local travel agency - run as it happens by the enigmatic Mr Jackson Pollack (an incredibly, ahem,  merry Pryce) - Jason excitedly rummages thru' the brochures for anything that tickles his fancy.

Jackson tho', being a totally non clichéd predatory old homosexualist is more interested in eyeing up our blond babe-magnets trouser area than sorting out a suitable break but after realizing he's backing a loser (as opposed to backing slowly yet steadily on his engorged member) in Jason, he packs our hero off to the world famous (it says here) Doctor Storm’s well-being clinic in the aforementioned Grimsville (see how it's all coming together? clever eh?) for a week of drizzle, grey skies and school dinners.

Being integral to the plot Jason agrees and is soon traveling to the clinic via some grainy British Rail stock footage.

It's not all bad weather and bad fashions tho',  as during the journey Jason meets up with the fantastically thighed Judy (button nosed beauty Shaw in her only starring role, tho' she does a great dance in the 1969 Yul Brynner thriller The File of the Golden Goose) and, after announcing that he isn't going to rape her, settles down to a nice chat and a chunk of cheese.

Judy explains that she’s going to the clinic to visit her Aunt Harris (a fantastically thin lipped performance from stage star Pollock) who originally ran a brothel in Holland but is now her sole relative.

No idea why or how these things are connected but there you go.

It seems that poor Judy was conceived out of wedlock causing her mother and aunt to fall out.

But the creepiest revelation is yet to come as it appears that Harris isn't even her aunts real name, yup she actually gets called that due of her love for Harris tweed.

It'd be worth the jail time just to cum over those smooth Lilly white knees.



Anyway, arriving at Grimsville railway station (it's the stop just after Little Rimming and just before Cleft) they're greeted by a morose station master by the name of Linda Carter (the amusingly monickered Benda, best known as the minister in the Pertwee Who classic The Claws of Axos) who begrudgingly gives them directions to the clinic.

Halfway up the bumpy country road tho' it begins to rain but luckily two motorbikes bearing the number plates Storm 1 and Storm 2 - and complete with black, leather-clad riders - arrive to carry the delectable duo the rest of the way.

Greeted at the front door by a bemused (or is that just drunk?) Frederick, Jason and Judy are ushered along to the front desk where Aunt Harris issues the pair with a key to the only room available.

You can almost smell Jason's joy at this news.

And my jealousy obviously.

Introductions out of the way and it's back to more time consuming filler material as Frederick slowly takes them upstairs (ooeerr) with the haunted look of a man trying to remember his lines.

Cut to an open door and a blood soaked bed.

And an uncomfortably long silence before our tiny chum mutters "Nothing to worry about here, I mean we all have our little accidents, you know."

Which is fair enough I suppose.


"It's my anti-mooth shite-in helmet!"



So far we've had gruesome gore, groovy tunes and some top comedy turns.

Unfortunately there's been no nudity so it's lucky for us that the shapely Judy has decided to take an incredibly soapy shower.

But before you can make a grab for the pause button on the remote control, Jason appears clad in only a pair of  Y fronts and a knight’s helmet.

Despite all this cringe inducing helmet based malarkey (or maybe, shudder, because of it) Jason does, in fact get to have 'the sex' with a still visibly wet Judy.

First Liz Fraser then Linda Bellingham and now the voluptuous Vanessa Shaw.

How can us mere mortals ever compete?

"Is it in yet?"



Feeling a wee bit peckish after such hot lovin' the couple head down for dinner where Aunt Harris seats them at a huge table alongside about a dozen bowl haired, bright blue 'teens' resplendent with plastic scars stuck haphazardly to their brows.

"These are our advanced students". explains a helpful Harris. "Don't worry about the dribbling and farting, they won’t speak properly until they've been totally cured."

Before Jason can ask what the fuck she's on about the only other girl at the table, a Ms. Millie Peed (the Erika Blanc alike Wendy from Sex and the Other Woman) starts screaming (badly) before being carried out by a couple of bikers.

Five fingers - never touched the sides. The James Arthur tribute act failed to win any fans at the orphanage Christmas party.


Deciding to skip dessert, Judy and Jason he upstairs to retire to bed (and maybe a bit more sexiness) but any amorous thoughts are soon shattered when the tap starts gushing blood.

Judy screams as the door opens finally revealing the wheelchair bound form of Doctor Christian Storm, MD, BSc, RAC and Tufty Club member no. 465.

It seems he's made a special effort to come and meet his associates niece but can hardly disguise the anger he feels for poor Frederick who, it seems has not only stashed a couple of rotting heads in the cold water tank but he's also failed to post a letter to Judy telling her to stay at home.

"Women can be terribly troublesome, but then so can little men!" he creepily informs Jason just before he slaps Frederick in the face with his riding crop.

And with that he squeakily leaves the room.

Michael Gough: Tunnel or funnel?


As night descends upon Storm Manor Jason decides to go and explore leaving Judy alone in bed.

But not for long tho' as she's soon up and about giving it her best Nancy Drew impression, until that is she stumbles across a dormitory full of lobotomized youngsters clad only in greying Marks and Spencer vest and pants combo's.

Escaping this underwear nightmare our screaming sex kitten is suddenly overcome by what appears to be a man made from Plasticine skulking about in a corridor.

Hearing her screams, Jason jumps to the rescue but is soon overpowered by those shiny helmeted leather boys from earlier.

Your nan's cum face. Trust me, I should know.


Obviously there's not enough plot going on at the moment so let's welcome back the sleazy Mr. Pollack who turns up out of the blue in an attempt to blackmail Storm for more cash and a pair of Jason's undies.

Dirty man.

Unfortunately our bum fun loving chum finds himself on the wrong end of the blade wielding Rolls Royce (actually it's the right end if you think about it) adding not only a new meaning to the phrase 'giving head' but also giving Jason the rudest awakening he's had since he did Linda Bellingham in a sandpit.

His only choice now?

To grab little Frederick and attempt to pump him for information.

The Price is right.


Luckily (for both Fred and viewers of a nervous disposition) Doctor Storm arrives in the nick of time with the offer of showing Jason his army of lobotomized muscle men in the gym.

Homo-erotic subtext anyone?

That's not all tho' as within minutes of unveiling his creations, Storm is proving their might by punching them in the stomach as they do star jumps and making them do back flips by remote control.

Jason, no doubt feeling confused by all the male flesh on show makes a break for the woods followed by two of Storm's biker gang, a very slow fight ensues, ending when one of the leather boys falls into a convenient swamp.

Must admit I never saw that coming.

A wee bit like our hero who manages to not hear two more leatherette’s  squeaking up behind him ready to administer a fucking good kicking.


Confessions of a dangerous mind.

If getting beaten up by two members of The Village People wasn't enough of an indignity, Jason is thrown into the cellar and gassed to sleep, giving us the chance to see a recap of what's happened so far.

Which is very considerate of the producers if you think about it.

Meanwhile back in the main plot, Storm is sticking a kebab stick into the skull of one of his patients, trying not to be too upset that Aunt Harris has decided to go back to running a brothel.

You never get this kinda stuff on The Archers.

Realizing that there is in fact a distinct lack of bona fide male tottie on screen (as much as he tries Askwith can't manage alone), the producers introduce us to a funky young traveler named Abraham (Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger's Christian) who, by the way he's walking has sold more than his soul to be in this movie.

It appears that our exotic pal is looking for his girlfriend Millie (you remember) but before he even has a chance to flutter his cow-like eyelashes at Harris the poor sod is taken from behind and thrown into the cellar alongside a slowly recovering Jason.

"excuse me...I have a women's period".


Tired of seeing so many young men beaten off by Storm's henchmen, Aunt Harris goes back to packing her collection of market stall dildos and Russian dolls but is rudely interrupted by the plasticine man who appears to rub her face to death, whilst back in the cellar Abraham is explaining his character motivation to Jason.

Clicking seamlessly into Shatner mode, Jason deduces that their only hope of escape is if Frederick has had a change of heart and decided to become a good guy.

Which, bizarrely enough is exactly what happens because at that very moment our pint sized pal is busy cooking our heroes some hearty porridge whilst spiking the guards’ Limeade.

Cue scenes of knockabout comedy gold that'd shame David Lynch as lil' Fred has to drag the comatose guards around before piling them up so he can reach the door handle, totally ignoring the handy bucket on the wall right next to him.

Escaping the cellar our buff boys (and Frederick) race to the gym to free Jenny (hands up if you'd forgotten about her too) only to bump into Doctor Storm (again) who appears to have been sitting there all night waiting patiently for our heroes to turn up so he can explain his motivation to them.
Nah....that'd be too silly even for this film.

Wouldn't it?

Cue even more flashbacks only this time they're in order to give us a wee bit of background on the doc.

She might look uncomfortable now but just you wait till the Karaoke starts.



Surprisingly he wasn't always a camp cripple but used to be a handsome womanizer with the dress sense of Peter Wyngarde, the hair of Martin Fry and a pair of working legs.

Tutored by Pavlov (but not alas his dog) and employed by Stalin, Storm soon became obsessed with the idea of raising an army of remote controlled circus performers and gymnasts in order to entertain - then maybe even take over - the world.

As one would.

Unfortunately a passing gypsy accidentally burned his laboratory down forcing him to move to the UK.

Illegally.

UKiP would have a field day.

Actually they probably wouldn't care because he's white.

Tho' he does sound a wee bit Polish so maybe they would.

But I digress.

Bored with all this mindless smalltalk and random footage of an ugly couple attempting to fuck in a kiddies sandpit Storm orders his men to give Jason and Abraham another kicking before locking them up, this time alongside Frederick.

That's the look, that's the look, the look of love.



Bored with the constant running away, getting captured and frightful beatings our by now terrific threesome reckon that enough is enough and decide that this time they're gonna fuck some shit up.

But first they need to escape.

If only they could find someone small enough to crawl out of the window, crawl along the ledge, climb in thru' the catflap, beat the guard and let them out.

All eyes on Frederick then.

Again.

Believe it or not he does indeed make his way thru' the window, round the ledge and back in the catflap, even beatings the pesky guard to death with an axe before freeing the boys.

His heroism is short lived (as well as short arsed) for no sooner have they started down the stairs when a sneaky leather guy throws the poor little sod over the balcony to his doom.

One Direction...and we all know where that is.


After rescuing Judy from the operating table, Jason and Abraham set out to find Millie but alas it's too late to save her seeing as whilst all this fighting and escaping has been going on the poor girl has been totally brainwashed by Storm.

And if that wasn't enough the pervy plasticine man from earlier has just sneaked into her room and fucked her to death before making his escape out of a window just as Jason and Abraham burst in.


But he's left something behind.

Lying on the bed covered in egg, sweat and semen stains is the remains of Doctor Storms full body latex suit.

Turns out he burned more than his fingers during the lab fire.

Abraham obviously upset by the fact that his girlfriend has been murdered starts to smash stuff, stopping only to piss in the doctor's filing cabinets and torching the place before getting chased away by the remaining staff.

Stealing the Rolls Royce Jason gives chase to the doctor, hoping at last for a wee taste of revenge...

Or at least a cheeky squeeze of his Playdoh-like man boobs.




After years in the cinematic wilderness, the release of Horror Hospital on shiny Bluray a few years back means that this lost gem from a talent hardly mentioned in serious film tomes will - hopefully - and deservedly take it's place in the annals of classic British Horror.

Quite possibly the first post-modern horror movie ever made, coming across as it does like Acorn Antiques directed by Sam Raimi or Casualty produced by David Cronenberg.

Yes it's that good.

Made at a time when British horror was floundering as it tried to match it's American counterparts after years of Hammer house based costume chills Horror Hospital perfectly encapsulating everything that's great about the genre at the time.

I mean what other country would counter the fearsome sight of Leatherface wielding a chainsaw with doddery old dear Sheila Keith brandishing a Woolworth's bought Black and Decker drill as the legendary Pete Walker did in Frightmare?

It's just a pity that unlike Walker, director Anthony Balch never became a household horror name.

Well apart from in our house anyway.

And for those of you scratching your collective heads here's a wee bit of background info on the great man.

But not too much obviously I mean you're not reading Sight And Sound.

Well if you're on this blog chances are you're struggling with the words and just looking at the pictures.

Anyway, a legend within the industry, Balch was well known for snapping up European arthouse and exploitation movies at cut down prices before re-releasing them in the UK with sexed up new titles.

What a guy.

Häxan: a load of old arse.



If that wasn't enough he was also the man behind the infamous sound version of Benjamin Christensen's brilliantly batshit documentary Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (1922), getting his old pal, the drug, lemur and arse obsessed genius William S. Burroughs (with whom he made two short movies in the early 60's) to write and record the commentary.

Suffice to say it's well worth finding a copy of.

Unfortunately Balch only ever completed two full length features in his career.

But luckily for us film aficionados the other one was the frankly bonkers Secrets of Sex (AKA Bizarre, 1970).

But it's Horror Hospital, unloved for years by all but the chosen few that shows what a loss not just to the horror genre but to cinema in general that Anthony Balch's death (and laziness when it came to making films) was.

Secrets of Sex: She's got something to put in you.



The movie has everything, from dwarves to death dealing melted cheese men via the casting of soft core comedy king Askwith in the role of a hero, coming across for all the world like a proto-Bruce Campbell from The Evil Dead saga.

More famous for his comedy turns that his horror heroics Askwith is a revelation as the put upon Jason and it's a pity he only made three excursions into horror.

Tho' the fact that the other two were the brilliant Tower of Evil and Pete Walker's classic Flesh And Blood Show (both alongside the sublime Candace Glendenning) should be enough for anyones CV.

I mean it's three more than I've starred in. 

I like to think that in some bizarro other dimension the movie was such a huge hit that an entire series sprung up around the character of Jason as he travels the country (and Europe - stock footage permitting) uncovering various vile plots and mad doctors as he attempts to enjoy a well deserved holiday, each time his vacation is interrupted by more outlandish monsters and dishy dolly birds.

As horror fans we were robbed.

But at least we have Horror Hospital to allow us to imagine what could have been.

Running the gamut from bloody body horror to out and out comedy caper without even stopping for breath whilst wearing it's ever more surreal plot and smartly self aware performances like a bold and shiny badge of honour this is everything Nicolas Winding Refn has ever wanted to achieve.

And so much more beside.

Burroughs: more cock than your sister.



One of the greatest British horror movies ever made?

Definitely.

One of the greatest films ever made?

Most certainly.

And if you don’t believe me, try it for yourself.

You'll soon come round to Doctor Storm's way of thinking.

              


  

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