The Fifth Floor (1978)

Growing up, the Saint Francis Hospital would always send people with mental issues to the fifth floor. I’ve had certain family members who would have semi-regular vacations to the fifth floor. It got to the point that whenever someone would discuss whether or not someone was acting strangely, theyd say, “Well, they’re on the fifth floor.”

 

This was going to be part of slasher month, except that it’s in no way a slasher. Of course, the poster work and other marketing makes it seem that way. It’s not. It’s much stranger.

Kelly McIntyre (Dianne Hull, cryonics enthusiast and an actress in Christmas Evil) is a disco dancer who gets dosed, probably by her boyfriend. This brings her to the fifth floor fo Cedar Springs Hospital, where her boyfriend refuses to help her, accusing her of being suicidal.

Kelly’s attractive, which means that she soon becomes the target of Carl the orderly. He’s played by Bo Hopkins, who I have had the fortune of watching several films with him in them of late. Here he’s out of control, a non-stop erection determined to ruin everyone’s life.

This movie is packed with faces you’ll remember, like Don Johnson’s ex-girlfriend and Warhol movie star Patti D’Arbanville, Cathey Paine (Helter Skelter), horror icons Michael Berryman and Robery Englund, Sharon Farrell (It’s Alive), Anthony James (the chauffer from Burnt Offerings), Julie Adams Dennis Hopper’s The Last Movie and The Creature From the Black Lagoon), Mel Ferrer, John David Carson (Creature from Black Lake), Earl Boen (the only actor other than Arnold Schwarzenegger to appear in the first three Terminator films), Alice Nunn (Large Marge!), rock and roll photographer Chuck Boyd (who is also in the sexploitation film Dr. Minx and The Specialist, both from the same director of this movie), Machine Gun Kelly (who was the announcer in UHF), disco singer Patti Brooks (whose song “After Dark” was on the soundtrack of Thank God It’s Friday! and recorded two duets with Dan Aykroyd for Dr. Detroit), Milt Kogan (Barney Miller), 1961 Miss Universe Marlene Schmidt (who is in nearly every movie this director did) and Tracey Walter. Yes, Bob the Goon from Batman.

This star-studded journey into mental illness comes straight out of the mind of Howard Avedis, who brought us all manner of literally insane movies like Mortuary and They’re Playing With Fire, two movies that I recommend highly. He knows how to take a salacious topic and make it even smuttier, which I always adore. Well done, Howard (or Hikmet).

It might seem like a TV movie for a bit, then there’s full frontal nudity and you’ll feel safe, like a warm straitjacket has been put on you, allowing you to just lie back and enjoy the magical exploitation within.

You can watch this on Amazon Prime.

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