Monday, October 22, 2012

The Surgeon (1995)

If anything, you could say that the Carl Schenkel (who also gave the world the Christopher Lambert film "Knight Moves" and "Dracula Blows His Cool") film "The Surgeon" is a very 90's movie. The hair of the lead villain looks like he could have fronted a lame rock band or at least could have been a blue jeans model. The score is the kind of thing that any number of straight-to-video horror films of the time would have had. The sex scenes are filmed in a way that resembles the kind of soft core skin flicks I used to watch in scramble vision as a 14 year old. The list goes on, but it's positively 90's.

The movie opens in the 50's, where a small boy sees a surgeon accidentally killing his brother. Years later, somebody is killing people within a hospital, but the culprit is soon caught. He's Dr. Julian Matar (Sean Haberle), and he's been working on an experiment that regenerates dead cells. Meanwhile, Dr Theresa McCann (Isabel Glasser) and her new sidekick Dr. Benjamin Hendricks (James Remar) are getting to know each other quiet well if you get my drift. This won't last forever though, as Matar has escaped, and begins killing those who are responsible for firing him, as well as the occasional hospital patient.

There are some positives to be had here. The main one is the use of beloved character actors such as Malcolm McDowell, Charles Dance and Peter Boyle (the latter of whom plays the chief of police.) Granted, you don't get a whole lot of Dance and McDowell, but their presence does offer some class to the proceedings. Also worthy of mention is the character of Matar, whose one of the more interesting villains in 90's straight-to-video horror. He's a guy whose completely insane, as a large needle that extracts pituitary fluids that he needs to survive. It's a nice twist on both the slasher and mad scientist role, and Remar manages to make him a menacing yet strikingly human villain with his performance.

Unfortunately, you couldn't say the same for Glasser, whose as wooden as a 2X4 and isn't all that interesting as our lead. To make matters worse, few of the characters are all that interesting (Mother Love shows up to play the "excitable black woman" stereotype), and the humor is decidedly hit and miss (though it thankfully doesn't go too far in the comedy department.) Worst of all, for a slasher movie set in a hospital, this isn't a particularly gory film. There's a few nasty surprises (the worst being a hypodermic needle to the eye) but the film itself seems to be afraid to get too bloody. Granted, this was a period in which the Ratings Board was really cracking down on violence in horror movies, but the almost straightforward approach the film takes ends up hurting it a bit.

As a whole, this isn't that bad of a movie. Unfortunately, it isn't that good of a movie either. If anything, it's just there, offering a few nice touches and squandering it with a mediocre script and a refusal to get too nasty. If any movie could have used a little more grue, it would be this one.

Rating: 5/10

And now, for something only related because Peter Boyle is in it, I give you this

I vaguely remember this, but I don't think I watched it.

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