13 Malpractice Suits Waiting to Happen
Article By: Sean Abley
There are a lot of really bad doctors in the world of horror movies. Thus, we present a selection of movies chock full of medical mayhem that, under normal circumstances, would result in a malpractice suit. Warning: Lots of NSFW stuff ahead.
1. Dr. Giggles (1992)
Video may be NSFW due to disturbing imagery!
Larry Drake, who spent seven seasons playing sweet, mentally challenged “Benny” on L.A. Law, took a turn for the worse years later as the mentally ill Dr. Giggles. Dr. Rendell (Drake) returns to his boyhood home to surgically apply some revenge for his father’s death-by-stoning at the hands of the residents unhappy with his murderous bedside manner. Giggling doesn’t really have much to do with the plot (although the town’s name, Moorehigh, seems to be a sly reference to giggle-inducing drugs), but bonesaws, hypodermic needles, and scalpels sure do.
2. The Dentist (1996) / The Dentist 2: Brace Yourself (1998)
Despite the Redband warning, trailer is actually pretty SFW!
Larry Drake’s L.A. Law costar Corbin Bernsen teamed up with screenwriters Stuart Gordon and Dennis Paoli (Re-Animator) and director Brian Yuzna (Beyond Re-Animator) for two films (one premise) that take the best part of Marathon Man and repeat it over and over again. After finding his wife cheating on him with the pool guy (it’s always the pool guy), Dr. Feinstone (Bernsen) becomes the poster boy for dental phobia, doling out root canals and extractions with the gentle touch of a buzz saw.
3. Doctor Butcher, MD (aka Zombi Holocaust & Zombi 3) (1979)
Video NSFW for graphic violence and nudity!
Starring the mainstay of Italian horror, Scottish actor Ian McCulloch, Doctor Butcher, MD has cannibals and zombies, both of which are bad news for all involved. Using almost the same plot from Zombi 2 (aka Zombie aka bad stuff in NYC leads to bad stuff involving zombies/cannibals on an island somewhere), and the same leading actor, DB adds in some naked lady action when the female lead ascends (topless) to queen of the cannibals. This in turn leads to cannibal-on-zombie violence, which just seems counterproductive from a flesh-eating standpoint.
4. Dressed to Kill (1980)
Spoiler alert! Stop reading now if you don’t want big, fat spoilers about the ending of this thirty-four year old film! You’ve been warned… So, Michael Caine is psychiatrist and a transgender psycho killer! And he kills his patient Angie Dickinson for being a dirty whore! The end! Made during a simpler time when you could get away with having a transgender killer and a woman murdered for expressing herself sexually, Dressed to Kill remains a favorite of Brian DePalma fans despite the entertaining transphobia and misogyny. This was the third film to star DePalma’s then wife, Nancy Allen. The fourth was Blow Out, where she played a prostitute (again) who is viciously murdered. And then they got divorced.
5. Dead Ringers (1988)
David Cronenberg’s films frequently explore the horrors of a human body out of control. In DEAD RINGERS, he explores the horror of a human body under the care of a doctor out of control. Among other vices, Dr. Beverly Mantle (Jeremy Irons, also playing twin brother Elliot) holds on to the belief that “mutant women” need special gynecological tools to explore their insides. So he commissions new and improved specula and forceps and whatnot, then shows up for work in this scene high as a kite.
6. Excision (2012)
Video NSFW for some gore and nudity!
An unrecognizable Annalynne McCord gives a pitch perfect performance as a wannabe teen surgeon in this slow boil shocker. Boasting some of Traci Lords’s best work (as a suburban mom), and effective supporting turns by Marlee Matlin, Malcolm McDowell, Ray Wise, John Waters and Modern Family’s Ariel Winter, Excision veers back and forth from teen angst black comedy to beautifully perverse medical fantasies before sliding into the horrifying, gory climax. You think you know where this one is going until the last ten minutes, and then you find out you’re wrong, but it’s worth the wait.
7. Dr. Caligari (aka Dr. Caligari 3000) (1989)
An ambitious quasi-sequel to the original The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari written by Jerry Stahl (Permanent Midnight, TV’s Alf) and Stephen Sayadian (Café Flesh), the latter of whom also directed and, perhaps most importantly, production designed. Much like the original (this time in vivid color) Dr. Caligari unfolds in a dream world of artificial settings, arch lines and presentational acting. Dr. Caligari (Madeleine Reynal), the female descendent of the original, performs mindswapping experiments on her patients (and prisoners) in an effort to counteract their natural destructive tendencies. It goes about as well as you’d think, although the giant tongue is pretty great.
8. Nurse 3D (2013)
Video NSFW for gore, graphic violence and some nudity!
If there’s a better use of 3-D technology than Paz de la Huerta, we’re hard pressed to name it. The statuesque actress, best known these days for her turn in the first season of Boardwalk Empire, plays the titular character “Abby,” a nurse who’s internal moral compass is skewed toward murder. Katrina Bowden (Tucker & Dale vs Evil, Piranha 3DD) plays the object of Abby’s injections; Judd Nelson, Corbin Bleu and Kathleen Turner are all on shift as well. For those that don’t have time to watch the whole bloody mess, here’s a highlights reel filled with gory spoilers.
9. Anatomy (2000)
Trailer is in German, also somewhat NSFW due to nudity and some disturbing imagery!
The Anti-Hippocratic Society has a solution for those against animal testing – human testing. In this German flick starring Franka Potente (Run Lola Run, The Bourne Identity), the secretive society abandons ethics and chooses human subjects for medical research involving a lot of induced paralysis and vivisectioning. Victims are the dregs of society, or anyone with a sassy mouth that gets on the nerves of the diabolical doctors. The film was a big hit in Germany, which resulted in a sequel, also starring Potente in a much smaller role.
10. American Mary (2012)
Oh, the kids today with their body modifications! The Soska Sisters (Jen and Sylvia) make a big jump, production value-wise, with the followup to their film school debut, Dead Hooker in a Trunk. American Mary stars fan-favorite Katharine Isabelle as a med student with bills, bills, bills. What starts as an application for a stripper job turns into an in-home body modification surgery business. Oh, and for all you creeps out there, don’t sexually assault a surgeon. Mary will make you regret it. Isabelle is great in a role written for her by the filmmakers, and although the ending suggests there won’t be a sequel, we’d love to see her back with the Soskas for another project.
11. The Skin I Live In (2011)
Pedro Almodóvar’s psychological horror film feels like a direct descendent of Eyes Without a Face, right down to the ad campaign’s visuals. But while Georges Franju presented us with forced facelifts, Almodóvar’s gives us a more intimate series of forced surgeries in addition to the heightened performances, bold production design and complex plots regularly served in his films. Antonio Banderas reunites with the acclaimed director after a twenty-plus year absence, delivering an understated performance in an overstated film.
12. The Human Centipede (First Sequence) (2009)
Tom Six’s surgical nightmare is one of the most unique horror films of the last twenty years. Virtually bloodless, but stomach-turning all the same, Centipede delivers the goods from beginning to end. Dieter Laser plays “Dr. Heiter,” a brilliant scientist who has decided three humans sharing one digestive tract is progress worth pursuing. Yes, he accomplishes this just like you’d imagine, and the scene where “nutrients” are passed from one part of the human centipede to the next was possibly the most disgusting scene ever committed to celluloid until A Serbian Film slithered onto home video.
13. Don't Look in the Basement (aka The Forgotten aka Death Ward No. 13) (1973)
Director S.F. Brownrigg (Scum of the Earth) and screenwriter Tim Pope (director of most of The Cure’s music videos) created the perfect drive-in trash flick with DLITB. Dr. Geraldine Masters is forced to run the Stephens Sanitarium on her own after the head doctor and nurse are brutally murdered. Unfortunately for new nurse Charlotte it turns out the inmates have literally taken over the asylum - Dr. Geraldine Masters is actually a patient pretending to be a doctor, and one of her prescriptions is murder. Brownrigg’s son, Tony, co-wrote and directed a sequel to be released in 2015. (Fun fact – look closely at the trailer, and you’ll find footage from Last House on the Left included in the opening montage.)
Sean Abley writes the “Gay of the Dead” blog for Fangoria.com. His writing has appeared in Fangoria, The Advocate, Unzipped, and in his book, Out In the Dark: Interviews with Gay Horror Filmmakers, Actors and Authors.