We’ve all been there. You fall asleep in a seedy motel room only to wake in a sinister medical facility, discovering not only that you have been nocturnally abducted, but also that the baby you were hitherto carrying has been exchanged for a nasty-looking surgical wound nestled neatly below your navel.
This everyday occurrence befalls Tabrett Bethell in The Clinic, the Australian shock-horror that is out now on DVD. And taking its unorthodox medical practice as inspiration, here’s a selection of other medical facilities from the movies that you wouldn’t like to find yourself in.
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
Jack Nicholson’s McMurphy chose the secure unit over a jail term thinking it was the easy option. Wrong.
Nurse Ratched’s vice-like grip on power within the hospital transformed what should have been a quiet refuge of support and gentle convalescence into a brutal regime built on fear, humiliation, and then some humiliating fear.
Such a carefully contrived balance of power between patients and staff could never withstand the destabilising influence of the cocky, carefree McMurphy, and he and Ratched, in a moral struggle for the souls of the patients, lock horns instantly.
If you’re on the lookout for a place to rest up and get your head together, it would be a good idea to give the Oregon State Mental Hospital a miss, as it will probably send you battier than one of Nora Batty’s cricket bats with a bat sat on it.
Master And Commander
The past was rubbish, particularly when it came to anaesthesia, and the worst place you could possibly get injured in the past was out at sea. Hygiene was a concern, resources were limited, and if you died there was a fair chance you’d be eaten before you were even cold.
So spare a thought for young Midshipman Blakeney who, after receiving a nasty wound to the hand, finds himself in the makeshift surgery of Paul Bettany’s possibly unqualified Dr Maturin.
Without a second thought, Bettany’s whipped out the hacksaw and, before Blakeney can say “alternative options,” he’s struggling to open jars for the rest of his life.
Any doctor so eager to remove one’s limbs is best avoided, as too is one without a rudimentary knowledge of antibiotics or access to a range of powerful opiates. If you need something lopping off, go modern and, if possible, go private.The Human Centipede
A surgeon and total madness is a terrible combination, yet not quite as bad a combination as your mouth and another person’s bottom. If you find yourself in the private clinic of German madman Dr Heiter, there is a distinct possibility of this unfortunate bonding happening to you, and you have to just hope that you end up at the front.
Heiter’s dream is the creation of a chain of three people living as a single organism and sharing a digestive tract between them. To this end, he also kindly slices the tendons in their knees so they cannot stand and, therefore, escape.
Worryingly, the film claims to be 100 per cent medically accurate, which makes Heiter’s clinic a place to avoid at just about any cost, because even if you manage to escape and are separated, there simply are not enough Tic Tacs in the world.
The operation was a complete success. You’re a bit sore, but you’re alive, having successfully eluded fatal medical incompetence and MRSA. You’ve just settling down to sleep, very much looking forward to the removal of your catheter, content that the worst is surely over.
Yet this hospital is in Haddonfield, Illinois, and tonight Michael Myers has decided to embark on an ambitious killing spree right in this very building. Murderous psychopathy does not, it appears, preclude a healthy sense of irony.
The threat of being brutally slain in your bed by an indestructible, possibly incestuous maniac in a Shatner mask is not conducive to a quick recovery. More importantly, a trail of bloodied corpses strewn through the halls represents a serious slipping hazard, and health and safety issues are simply unacceptable.
The Pescadero State facility in which Sarah Connor is held doesn’t appear to be a particularly pleasant environment in which to make any kind of recovery. Bathed in harsh fluorescent light by day and moody blue hues by night, its sombre atmosphere is not helped at all by the presence of Dougie the lick-happy orderly, whose teeth Sarah later relocates to a widespread area of the floor.
Finding yourself here would mean ritualistic abuse, sedation, and being objectively perused through your window by gormless-looking interns until the moment you could put your daring escape plan into effect.
Luckily, escape is indeed possible, mainly due to the hospital’s insistence on keeping syringes and poisonous cleaning products in the same place. The presence of a time-travelling cyborg from the future to assist your escape is depressingly unlikely in any real-life scenario, though, which is a shame.
A lot of people in hospitals are probably there as a result of a previous run-in with Chow yun-Fat, yet in John Woo’s gloriously overblown actioner, Chow takes the fight to the hospital itself, in a running gun-battle of apocalyptic proportions.
Anyone attending this hospital for a routine check-up at this time would probably be fairly surprised to see two cops laying waste to taxpayer-funded property, and with the amount of collateral damage and apparent disregard for the difference between friend or foe, it probably wouldn’t be the best place to seek treatment.
For most people, the quality of the food is the main concern during a hospital stay. What they clearly should be more worried about is the likelihood of getting shot in the face.
Little Shop Of Horrors
Giant, flesh-eating plants are the least of your problems when your dentist is Steve Martin. Not only because, if he were, it would mean you would have to spend extended periods of time with Steve Martin, without the ability to ask him to shut up or go away.
Trips to the dentist are fraught enough as it is, as anyone who has undergone an invasive and deplorably savage extraction procedure will attest. Yet you are sure that this blinding agony must be necessary, because dentists are qualified professionals with letters after their names who probably earn more money than you do.
The surgery of Martin’s Dr Scrivello is proud to be different, as Scrivello takes joy in the infliction of pain, and has simply discovered a profession in which he gets paid to do it. He’s also fairly upfront about this fact, so much so that he performs an upbeat musical number about this exact topic, detailing precisely how much he likes to hurt people. You can’t say he didn’t warn you.
So, reasons to avoid the surgery are: sadism, violence, Steve Martin wielding instruments of torture, the presence of Steve Martin, and his propensity for breaking into spontaneous song.
Not a place you want to find yourself, I think we can agree.
The Clinic is out on DVD and Blu-ray now. You can buy it from Amazon right here.