Wednesday, April 25, 2012

10 Slashers That Could Benefit from a Remake: X-RAY (1982)

Now that we're well into 2012, something has occurred to me: it's the first year in a decade that has no slasher remakes scheduled for release. While the remakes have swooned the box office with usual great success, very few horror film movements have drawn up as much protest as the dreaded remake craze did.

It's pretty obvious, looking back, as to how studios and producers chose which slashers were deemed worth remaking - they were the slashers that were original moneymakers upon their original release. HALLOWEENTHE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACREFRIDAY THE 13THPROM NIGHTTHE HILLS HAVE EYES, and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET were all monster successes and pop-culture phenomenon's. Even more cult-y slashers like BLACK CHRISTMAS and MY BLOODY VALENTINE had earned a solid enough reputation to guarantee a solid fanbase.

But when you really think about it, doesn't the thought of remaking more well-known slasher films seem to sort of juxtapose what a remake stands for? Shouldn't they be remaking films that are less-known and more dated, to bring them to a modern-day audience? While 2012 might not have any remakes on its schedule, I can guarantee you that a second wave of remakes will eventually come along. But when it does, it should be focusing its efforts on the movies that actually could benefit from a redo. As we take a break from remakes in theaters, here's the ten suggestions for films to consider a redux for, and ways to take the original movie and make it fresh and modern without spitting in the face of the original's fans (here's looking at you, Rob Zombie!).

08. X-RAY

In 1981, HALLOWEEN II exploded onto the scene. It was set in the eerie corridors of a hospital - a place that represents pain and death. This proved quite successful, and the following year two separate slashers attempted their take the hospital setting: VISITING HOURS and Hospital Massacre (also known as X-Ray in some versions). While Visiting Hours has a unique story, it was criticized for its misogynistic undertones. Hospital Massacre, on the other hand, was basically a carbon-copy of Halloween II, without Michael Myers, Laurie Strode, Dr. Loomis, or any of the key Halloween players.

While Hospital Massacre was not a huge hit (and still is without any plans of a DVD release, as of 2012), the film is not without its silly slasher charms.To start, it has one of the hottest heroines of any slasher: the beautiful Barbi Benton (and yes, she is topless in the film). You would think that Benton - who was one of the more successful "Playboy" models of the era, could have escalated Hospital Massacre's status to that of at least a solid cult classic (I mean MADMAN and THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD did it without any notable stars!). 

The movie zeroes in on Benton's character, a divorcee who goes to a Los Angeles hospital for a routine exam. But a series of circumstances delay Benton's exam, and she unknowingly is stalked by a maniac dressed as a doctor, who is killing off the staff associated with her. You see, this madman is the psychotic Harold, who killed Benton's childhood friend 19-years earlier out of jealousy on Valentine's Day, and now he's back to finish her off!

The Concept 

Okay, to start off, let's change the title from Hospital Massacre to X-Ray. You see, Hospital Massacre sounds too retro, and to a modern audience it will lead to the conclusion that the film is unoriginal. The 1982 Hospital Massacre was unoriginal, although fun. But the remake needs to be a little edgier, meaning X-Ray is a better-suited title.

Now, the reason that Hospital Massacre is so terribly dated is because you know who the killer is, you know his motive, and you basically know the entire movie before even seeing it. To make it more modern you have to think, "Why would anyone pay money to see this movie?" Well, you have your slasher fans, sure. But even they get tired of the common redundancy.

Now I will usually say that a good slasher needs something from the past to come back and give the killer a reason to attack the people of the present. But in X-Ray, you don't really need it. The beauty of X-Ray could be that it's the start! And maybe - just maybe - X-Ray doesn't need to be some huge gore-fest, but rather a smarter mystery that teeters between thriller and slasher.

I'm going to go out on a huge limb here, and basically change around the plot of the original movie. This might anger some, but the heart of the film is the same - someone with a Valentine's Day grudge has come to the hospital to murder a beautiful woman. Only this time, the red herrings are plentiful and the audience really doesn't know who the killer is.

That's the beauty of it. And to pay respects to 1982's other hospital horror, Visiting Hours, the main character should be put in the hospital by an attempted murder; she shouldn't just get stranded there through idiotic mishaps. To add suspense to the main part of X-Ray, our heroine is unconscious throughout most of the movie, recovering from her attack, while the madman tries to get to her to finish her off, and ends up offing a whole bunch of hospital employees in the process.

The Plot

The story begins on an icy Valentine's Day in a suburban area. The beautiful model Susan Jeremy is driving home, when her car is attacked and run off the road by a maniac driver. Susan's car crashes into an icy lake, and the maniac drives off thinking she's dead... but  Susan manages to survive certain death, and escapes her sinking car to pass out in the snow. She is soon rescued by paramedics, and brought to the nearby hospital, where the real fun begins...

While doctors try to save Susan's life, her best friend and fellow model Barbi (yes, an homage) arrives to see that she's okay. When Barbi learns that Susan was run off the road, she begins to suspect that Susan is still not safe. And soon, the hospital staff starts thinning out, and Barbi's fears are starting to come true.

But who could want Susan dead? And who could go to such desperate measures to do so? Could it be Susan's shady ex-boyfriend, who was recently released from rehab? Or her sleazy photographer, who is known for taking advantage of his models? Or her greedy agent, who wants to exploit Susan? Or possibly her vindictive, estranged father, who has a long history with Susan? Or could it be someone else entirely? 

When everyone ignores Barbi's warnings, she takes it upon herself to investigate, ultimately getting herself deeper into the dangerous mystery, and quickly becoming the prime target on the psychopath's chopping block! To protect Susan, Barbi must outsmart a killer and evade them in the complex corridors of the hospital psyche ward, surgical wing, and recover rooms! 

The Mystery

X-Ray is a slasher film, and needs to have a few deaths, but this should not be a body count movie. Only a few painful killings are necessary, as the focus of the story needs to be on the mystery - who is the maniac? 

But still, at the end of the day X-Ray will be considered a slasher flick, and needs to have a few creative and bloody kills. Things can get pretty creative in a hospital, but there are certain musts here; a surgical saw of some kind, a scalpel, and some kind of malfunction with the x-ray machine to honor the film's title (perhaps the brutal "x-ray" death can be saved for the killer's demise). 

Oh, and yes, there would need to be a few boob shots, just in honor of the original. So at the end of the day, X-Ray would strive to be classier than it really can allow itself to be. Still, trash can smart, can't it? So why not deliver a complex, giallo-style murder mystery with a few good murders and a few token tit shots?

The Characters

Barbi Branden. Female, Mid 20s. Beautiful, raven-haired, exotic model. She's smart and sophisticated, having been raised in wealth. But you'd never know it; she's humble and generous. Best friends with Susan - these two are like sisters.

Susan Jeremy. Female, Mid 20s. Gorgeous, slender, blonde bombshell model. She came from nothing and eventually rose to the top of the modeling industry. A true self-made woman, but she still lacks confidence in herself.

Dr. Davis. Male, Early 30s. Handsome, charming doctor with a great smile. This is the type of guy you want at your death bed. There's something comforting about his presence. He seems to have feelings for Barbi.

Harry Lucia. Male, 20s. Susan’s troubled, emotionally unbalanced ex-boyfriend. He's been in and out of rehab for years. His controlling, obsessive personality has proven to be dangerous to Susan in the past.

Calvin Channing. Male, 40s. Susan’s sleazy photographer. He's famous for making models do "extra favors" for him. His inappropriate gestures were laughed at by Susan and Barbi.

Risa Rosen. Female, 30s. Susan’s greedy, manipulative agent. A heartless businesswoman who sees Susan's accident as "good publicity". She looks like she underwent too much plastic surgery.

Richard Jeremy. Male, 50s. Susan’s estranged, vindictive father. He seems to have alcoholic tendencies. After Susan turned 18 she left him, and he has not seen a dime of her fortune.

Dr. Saxon. Male, 50s. Older, stricter, grumpier doctor. Everyone wonders if he's really drinking coffee out of his mug...

Nurse Dora. Female, 40s. Bitchy head nurse. She's the Nurse Ratchet of the modern age - cool, expressionless, and seemingly devoid of all feelings. 

Nurse Penny. Female, Early 20s. Cute and quiet. She's the new nurse to the staff, and still does not have the confidence of the rest of the crew.

Nurse Kitty. Female, Late 20s. The sexy, perky nurse. She flirts with everyone - patients, doctors, visitors, paramedics - and would probably screw anything with two legs.

Hal. Male, Early 20s. The boyish, young paramedic who is handsome in a goofy, self-conscious way. He has feelings for Nurse Penny, but is too shy to make a move.

Ned. Male, Late 20s. The big armed, strong, cocky paramedic. He likes to brag about his "number" of women he's been with. Definitely enjoys picking on Hal. 

Final Thoughts

After 30 years, X-Ray/Hospital Massacre needs a check-up. It needs to be examined, rid of its illnesses, and released back into the world for a whole new audience. The idea of an incredibly hot woman being terrorized by a maniac in a surgical mask is a classic image in the slasher genre, and we need this generation's Barbi Benton to return to the creepy hospital corridors. I hear some Victoria's Secret models are trying to get into the movie business...

The thing that really dragged Hospital Massacre down was that, aside from Ms. Benton's appearance and the hospital setting, there was nothing unique about it. But if the remake chose to be more of a suspense filled thriller mystery with some slasher elements rather than an all-too standard maniac in a mask movie, than it will find more success. Keep the audience guessing with the whodunit while keeping them on the edge of their seats as the maniac gets closer to his beautiful target, one dead hospital staff member at a time...

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