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Haunted Sideshow

Dustin Putman

Dustin's Blu-ray Review
X-Ray / Schizoid  (1982 / 1980)
Double Feature

The Film
2.5 Stars/2 Stars
(Release date: August 20, 2013) — One of the most passionate of all genre distributors currently in the Blu-ray market, Scream Factory should be commended for bringing attention to two little-known, early-'80s slasher titles involving MDs likely not to be trusted.

Boaz Davidson's "X-Ray" (also released in the U.S. as "Hospital Massacre") is the highlight of the set, a totally bonkers mad-slasher pic starring former Playboy model Barbi Benton as a young mother who, as a child, saw her friend get murdered by a psychotic neighbor boy with a crush on her on Valentine's Day. About to start a new job, she goes to see her doctor at the local hospital for routine test results and ends up being terrorized by a mysterious killer who switches her x-rays and files with far more dire ones. Benton is likable and charismatic in the lead role, keeping a straight face through a movie that gets loonier the longer it goes, making one wonder if it's intentionally funny or just off-the-charts preposterous. Seeing characters openly smoke in the hospital is hilarious all by itself in 2013, but what about separate floors of a working hospital being fumigated? Why are the mentally ill sharing rooms with healthy out patients? Was it really okay for doctors and nurses to literally slap sense into their patients? And why does Benton's boyfriend wait for four hours in the car without checking on her when she is only supposed to run in the hospital for ten minutes? The silliness goes on from there, and while the identity of the killer is patently obvious the moment he/she shows up on the screen, the whole affair is tremendously entertaining and—for slasher fans—pleasingly violent.

Coming off of the batshit-crazy "X-Ray," David Paulsen's "Schizoid" is not nearly as noteworthy even if it does have a devious, lurid amiableness all its own. Julie (Bonnie Bedelia lookalike Marianna Hill) is a recently divorced advice columnist who has begun receiving threats in the mail. If that weren't enough, someone is slicing their way through the female patients of her therapy group, lorded over by chain-smoking, ultra-creepy psychologist Dr. Fales (Klaus Kinski). Julie probably shouldn't choose this exact moment to have an affair with her doctor, but that's exactly what she does as she moves ever closer to the killer. Klaus Kinski is off-the-charts skeevy as Dr. Fales, and Christopher Lloyd shows up briefly as a lonely guy in the therapy group in this more or less standard body-count whodunit.

Blu-ray Picture/Sound
X-Ray: B/B
Schizoid: B/B

Neither "X-Ray" nor "Schizoid" has ever seen the digital light of day, so their release on Blu-ray should be a particular treat for horror fans. All things considered, they look terrific, just as long as one tempers their expectations. Both films fall victim to hazy grain and noise on occasion, as in the scenes in "X-Ray" set on the fumigated floor of the hospital, but then there are scenes that truly pop in high-definition. Since neither have been available since the days of VHS, one thing is certain: both titles have never looked so good. They are accurate representations of what they were meant to look like upon release in 1982 and 1980, respectively, and that's all we can ask for. The DTS-HD MA 2.0 sound mix on both films is, naturally, up front, but effective all the same with full-bodied music scores and stingers and well-processed dialogue.

Blu-ray Features
X-Ray: A highly amusing interview with director Boaz Davidson (13:01, HD), who, apparently, didn't realize he had made a comedy after all.
Schizoid: Interview with actress Donna Wilkes (10:41, HD) and the theatrical trailer (1:39, HD)

Bottom Line
Where else but Scream Factory could one expect to find a solid Blu-ray double feature of "X-Ray" and "Schizoid?" As a huge fan of the label and unsung horror titles in general, it was a treat discovering these, particularly the zany, one-of-a-kind "X-Ray." This release is one that any serious genre fan shouldn't hesitate to purchase. Recommended.

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© 2013 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman