Has life got you down? How about taking a trip to the country to relax and kiss your health concerns goodbye? Allow me to refer you to Hairy Holidays, travel agency extraordinaire; they've got just what you're looking for. Take a trip to Brittlehouse Manor, for some "fun and sun for the under 30's." There you'll meet Doctor Storm and experience his breakthrough medical technique to cure all that ails you. Sure the treatment leaves a nasty scar on your forehead, but isn't that a small price to pay to live the rest of your days carefree?
Welcome to Horror Hospital, which opens with a man and a midget in the back of a limo. Two blood soaked people come running down a path and onto the road in front of the car. Unsurprisingly, the car begins to chase. As it approaches, the little man pulls a lever extending a blade, several feet long, from the roof. Now a rolling guillotine, the car beheads both of the runners and their heads land conveniently in a canvas bag under the blade. Yes folks, this is one strange film.
We follow a down on his luck song writer named Jason Jones (Robin Askwith), and a young girl, Judy Peters (Vanessa Shaw), as they make their way to Brittlehouse Manor. Jason just wants to relax and re-coop from the broken nose he received in a bum business deal. Judy however is making the trip to meet her Aunt Harris (Ellen Pollock), formerly a whore house madam who years ago married Doctor Storm (Michael Gough) and settled in at the Manor.
Upon arrival the two are greeted by the butler Frederick (Skip Martin), the little person previously from the car. While he's taking them to their room, it's clear that things just aren't right. They see blood stained beds, pale wandering tenants that don't speak, and guards who patrol the grounds wearing motorcycle helmets and goggles at all times. That night, at dinner, everyone else seems to be in a coma and each flaunts a huge scar on their forehead. It's obvious that the only guests capable of normal functioning are the two who just arrived. Soon, Judy gets taken captive by the helmet heads. It's now up to Jason to rescue her and himself, from the sick Doctor Storm.
This is the kind of film that wears you down with oddity after oddity until you're forced to laugh or just turn it off. Writer and director Anthony Balch just doesn't seem interested in telling a cohesive story. There's no attempt to tie together loose ends or even to justify the actions of most of its characters. If you can stick it out, you'll witness an ending that'll leave you scratching your head in an effort to make sense of it all. Then again, perhaps the true joy of Horror Hospital is the fact that it makes no sense. After all, does creating a hoard of telepathically controlled zombie-like humans and forcing them to do gymnastics all day seem like a rational idea?
While tongue is firmly in cheek throughout, it does seem that Horror Hospital is trying to ride the fine line of providing both laughs and shocks. Unfortunately, any intended shock value backfires when it collides with the campy acting, comical effects, and some of the most unbelievable fisticuffs this side of a Batman inspired "Kapow!" What's left is nothing more than a disjointed journey into the bizarre. If you can avoid asking too many questions and agree to turn your brain off for a while, it's a journey that you'll get a good kick out of. However, if you're looking for scares, suspense, or even logic stay far away from Brittlehouse Manor.
Elite Entertainment gives us a solid DVD, whose only fault is the lack of extras. The film is presented in an impressive 1.85:1 image. While it's not 16x9 enhanced, it's constantly sharp displaying clear, vivid colors. The Dolby Stereo sound is nothing spectacular, but it certainly gets the job done. The theatrical trailer is included, and what a beauty it is. In classic exploitation style the film's promoted as being so scary that "we dare not show you any other scenes!" It even goes so far to suggest you "see it with someone you hate." That's good stuff, and I'm sure more than one ticket buyer sat perplexed while watching this cheese fest.
Horror Hospital is also available in Elite Entertainment's British Horror Collection Box Set.