So Scary It’s Sick: 5 Nasty Hospital Slashers


Stranger Things has always been a horror show at heart. While elements of Hawkins, Indiana have strayed toward the cosmic, with smatterings of early Amblin science fiction, Stranger Things’ living, beating heart is one of horror. Season two of the hit Netflix series veered away from some of its genre roots—save for a brief creature feature beat in a lab, rest in peace, Bob. But season three reignited the horror at its core, most explicitly during an extended nod to Rick Rosenthal’s hospital-set Halloween II.

The aptly named Hawkins Memorial Hospital is a clear stand-in for Haddonfield—even the on-screen signage is an homage. For an episode, Stranger Things becomes a straight-up slasher movie. Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) are pursued through the hospital by the mind flayer as it possesses the bodies of those around it. The synth soundtrack is an ode to Carpenter, the staging is claustrophobic, and it quite literally amounts to Stranger Things’ riff on Halloween II.  It’s an excellent beat, a standout in a season that arguably rivals the first.

As audiences get their rewatches underway in anticipation of the fourth season, here are five additional hospital-set slasher movies to help pass the time.

1. Halloween II

Cinematic Void Presents HALLOWEEN II - American Cinematheque

Halloween II is the big bad of hospital slashers. Modern sensibilities have been shaped by Haddonfield Memorial Hospital’s downright negligent management and security protocols. As Lucille Bluth famously remarked, this is why people hate hospitals. Following up right after the conclusion of John Carpenter’s original Halloween, survivor Laurie Strode is transported to HMH while Michael Myers continues to slash his way through Haddonfield. Eventually, their paths cross. Michael makes quick work of the hospital’s incredulously small staff. From there, it’s Laurie, Michael, and one giant hospital. It’s a far cry from the original, but in its own clinical way, it’s an incredibly effective slasher.

2. X-Ray

X-Ray (1981) - IMDb

X-Ray has a ton of titles, including but not limited to Hospital Massacre, Be My Valentine, and Ward 13. Barbi Benton stars as Susan Jeremy, an attractive young woman not at all bothered by the childhood death of a friend. She’s dating a new hunk now and, on Valentine’s Day, is en route to the local hospital for test results she needs for her new insurance plan. Meanwhile, an unseen killer is carving up the hospital, starting with Susan’s doctor and a custodian who stumbles upon the carnage. After the killer messes with Susan’s paperwork, a similarly incompetent staff detains her, straps her to a gurney, and at one point, endeavors to perform emergency surgery. Replete with stellar gore, melodrama, and ludicrous, credulity-stretching threads, X-Ray is a tour-de-force of hospital slashing.

3. Visiting Hours

Visiting Hours (1982) directed by Jean-Claude Lord • Reviews, film + cast •  Letterboxd

Visiting Hours is very good, though its quality does nosedive considerably after its bleak, brutal opening. The inimitable Lee Grant stars as Deborah Ballin, a feminist activist whose TV appearances draw the ire of several awful, misogynistic men. One is especially bad, and one evening, killer Colt Hawker (Michael Ironside) breaks into her house and brutally attacks her. It’s a tense, violent segment, one at considerable odds with Visiting Hours’ glossy, daytime television look. But it works. Deborah survives, however. Upon being transported to the county hospital for treatment, Colt continues to stalk her, looking to finish what he started. It’s got William Shatner, burgeoning feminist ideals, and an effortlessly cool Lee Grant at the center. What more could audiences want?

4. See No Evil 2

See No Evil 3 Updates: Will The WWE Slasher Series Return?

The Soska Sisters’ See No Evil 2 is considerably better than the first See No Evil, though that isn’t saying much. Still, the Soska Sisters imbue See No Evil 2 with the kind of carefree, slaughter sensibilities that defined some of the best 80s slashers. There are no groundbreaking twists, no mid-narrative subversions. Instead, it’s just a big guy slaughtering a bunch of young adults with whatever tools he has at his disposal. The cast includes a grab bag of genre icons, including Katharine Isabelle, Danielle Harris, and Chelan Simmons. See No Evil 2 makes no pretense about what it is. It’s hot young people being stalked and killed in a hospital. Nothing more, nothing less.

5. The Ward

Pin on creepy/horror

Director John Carpenter pays homage to… director John Carpenter. The Ward is the seminal director’s (as of right now) latest feature. It’s been 12 years since Carpenter has helmed a film, and it’s likely The Ward will be his last. While it isn’t amazing, it’s not a bad note to go out on. Carpenter reworks conventional asylum thrills and imbues them with 80s slasher sensibilities. Amber Heard stars as Kristen, a young woman who is institutionalized after setting fire to a barn. Once there, she begins to suspect the ghost of a deceased patient is haunting the halls. Carpenter fills The Ward to the brim with lightning storms, heaps of gore, and manic energy that gives life to familiar material. In terms of throwback hospital slashers, The Ward is one of the best.



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