Home Video Hovel: X-Ray/Schizoid, by Dayne Linford
Two mediocre-to-bad movies in one package equals one really good movie, right? Isn’t that simple math? Or perhaps it’s just the industry standard way to sell older B-flicks that’d never get a release otherwise, which I can’t really complain about, believing in the preservation of film and all. Though this is no Joan of Arc, but they aren’t really pretending to be either.
X-Ray, directed by Boaz Davidson, is a run of the mill slasher set in a hospital at nighttime, wherein a deranged killer (what other kind is there?) fakes Susan Jeremy’s x-rays to make it look like she has a rare, deadly chest-area illness (since the faked x-rays were basically a chest shot with lots of light colored blotches all over, I have no idea, maybe a light-based illness?) so she’s trapped overnight in the hospital and he can then stalk her at will, killing lots of people along the way because, well, because. Why the hell not? I understand plot is not the main draw here but it’s outright annoying to sit through boring exposition scenes for nearly half the movie just to discard all those details as they’ve being given. Maybe the screenwriter was being paid by the word, the monetary value of each word being judged in direct relation to its overall shittiness.
But let’s not be too mean, here. If you watch this movie, you’ll get to see Barbie Benton’s breasts! Yay! Being a Playmate, I don’t think you’d have trouble finding them elsewhere, but maybe a half-hour of boredom (punctuated by random, laughable but not laughable enough violence), then boobs, then another hour of boredom, maybe that’s the way you get your kicks. Well, lucky you. I’m not against nudity on screen, but I would rather have gotten a link or even a copy of the playboy with her in it than this, given that the entire reason the movie existed was the nude scene. Perhaps I’m just mad because my girlfriend and other friends are snooty and would rather not watch X-Ray, so I had to sit through it alone. Perhaps.
Schizoid is a rather more interesting mess than X-Ray, though still undeniably a mess. Marianna Hill plays Julie, a Lonely Hearts columnist who has begun to receive cryptic newspaper cut-out letters threatening violence just before her friends, all members of Dr. Pieter Fales’, played by none other than Klaus Kinski, marriage counseling group, start turning up dead. Thankfully, both Hill and Kinski bear the (according to Kinski) dubious distinction of being actors, as compared to Barbi Brenton, and they’re able to do, well, something with the dialogue, even if it isn’t much of a thing. Kinski’s doctor is wealthy, recently widowed, and having affairs with a couple of his patients, one of whom turns out to be Julie, who is in the process of divorcing her sheepish husband, Doug, played by Criag Wasson. The doctor’s daughter, Alison, played by Donna Wilkes, is pretty screwed up after her mother’s death and continually distant from her father. And finally, in a fun, surprisingly subtle-ish performance (it’s still a slasher flick after all) Christopher Lloyd rounds out the potential killers as a maintenance man who is also part of Fales’ therapy group.
When talking about Schizoid, the distinction is not between good and bad scenes so much as bad and still bad, but kind of interesting scenes. As opposed to X-Ray, Schizoid has a little more of the latter than the former, due almost entirely to Kinski, who seems to take his character completely seriously, giving quite a good performance as the bad doctor. With the exception of one unintentionally hilarious scene, made funny by the look of complete boredom on Kinski’s face, he’s able to make his character somewhat believable and commits to acting and screenwriting decisions that would otherwise be nonsensical and contradictory except for his ability to successfully meld them into a whole, almost a whole character, but mostly at least a whole for now. Where Schizoid really suffers, however, is the direction. Written and directed by David Paulsen, the direction is mostly just boring, especially during the stalking scenes, which are pretty much ludicrous and completely drained of tension. X-Ray is better directed, actually, though it would take virtuoso work to elevate that crap. Ironically, Schizoid is a B-movie in which you come for nudity and blood, but end up staying for Klaus Kinski. So, not bad, really.
The transfers are both quite good, looking rather like 70s films because of the low-grade stock used, both having been made in the early 80s. The package contains an interview for each film and a truly awful trailer for Schizoid. The X-Ray interview is with director Boaz Davidson, and is interesting for his backstory, coming from Israel, but also icky, such as when he jokes about the entire crew shoving themselves into a tiny room to see them film Barbi Benton’s nude scene. *sigh* The Schizoid interview is with actress Donna Wilkes, who plays Kinski’s daughter. It’s interesting for her later career and thoughts on doing the film.
Altogether, if you have funny/sarcastic/passable friends who will drink and watch these movies with you, it’s not a bad set. If you’re reviewing these movies late at night while you could be sleeping, you might wonder why you ever wanted to review them. But they were kind of fun watches. Out of all the times I’ve had, they certainly weren’t the worst.