Horror Hospital (1973) | This campy cult horror spoof is a guilty pleasure
The nightmare is about to begin!
Lobotomised patients, a cheeky dwarf, a pair of vicious biker boys, and a prowling monster keep Robin Askwith awake at night in this outrageous 1973 horror spoof. Imagine Confessions of a Pop Performer meets Blood Feast by way of Carry on Screaming.
Michael Gough (Konga, Horrors of the Black Museum) chews the scenery as never before playing the mad Pavlovian scientist, Dr Storm, who is hell bent on creating on an army of obediant slave through experimental brain surgery. And it’s Askwith’s burnt-out singer pop singer and dolly bird Judy (Vanessa Shaw) who are next in line for his scapel…
Featuring bloody decapitations (via a luxury Rolls), gratuitous nudity and a melty monster getting it on with a cripple, this horror oddity from arthouse movie distributor turned director Antony Balch combines exploitation and parody to great effect, while the characters are an outrageous treat. None more so than Gough, who plays Storm as a cross between Bela Lugosi in The Devil Bat and Colin Clive in Frankenstein. And the fact he plays it straight (he didn’t know it was a spoof) only makes his performance one to relish.
Dennis Price (Theatre of Blood) puts in a boozy cameo as a leering old queen, Ellen Pollack gets some great lines as Dr Storm’s Dominatrix-attired assistant, while Skip Martin (Masque of the Red Death) is a comic riot as Frederick the dwarf. His cries of ‘Shish Kebab!’, despite his speech impediment, is LOL.
Shot over 22 days on a tiny £22,000 budget, Horror Hospital was shot on location at Knebworth House (for the exteriors) and the former Battersea Park Town Hall (for the interiors). It was released in the UK with an ad campaign comparing it to Coma.
THE UK RELEASE
The OEG Classic Movies Blu-ray/DVD print has been transferred in HD from the original 35mm camera negative, and includes the following special features:
• Audio commentary with producer Richard Gordon (this is from the 2010 US release)
• Robin Askwith is Admitted to Horror Hospital (The hash cookie story is a highlight).
• Operating Out of Battersea: The Making of Horror Hospital (lots of talking heads discussing how the filmmakers actually got something in the can despite the budget).
• Trailer (when it was on a double bill with The Corpse Grinders)
• New artwork by Graham Humphreys
DID YOU KNOW?
Director Antony Balch, whose only other feature was Secrets of Sex (1970), was responsible for releasing the sound version of Benjamin Christensen’s 1922 documentary Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages with a commentary by William S Burroughs, whom he’d collaborated with on a series of film shorts.
Posted on August 15, 2015, in British Film, Cult classic, Exploitation, Horror, Must See, Must-See and tagged Antony Balch, Battersea Park Town Hall, Graham Humphreys, Horror Hospital, Knebworth House, Michael Gough, Odeon Entertainment, OEG Classic Movies, Richard Gordon, Robin Askwith. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.