Peter’s Retro Movie Review: Visiting Hours (1982)

October 19, 2012

by Peter Nielsen

Good evening! Or maybe even afternoon or morning, depending on what time of the day you read this, but I think evening suits this theme better, wouldn’t you agree? I’m glad you came back for our third week in this little excursion of horror we call October Spooky Flix Fest! Have you started getting ready for Halloween yet? We’re nearly there, you know… But since there’s still time, why not gather around me and I’ll tell you about my choice of horror for this week, ok?

Deborah Ballin is a “hard-hitting” journalist/TV-host who’s in the midst of fighting for a woman who’s been accused of murdering her husband, even though he’s been abusing her for years. During a taping of her next show she really “chews” into one of the attorneys on the case. Her boss Gary Baylor thinks she’s crossed the line and is not sure if he should air it or not. This enrages her and she storms out of the studio. She’s played by Lee Grant (The Swarm, Airport ’77) and her boss by Captain James T. Kirk himself… Mr. William Shatner (Airplane II – The Sequel, Kingdom of the Spiders).

Why that intense look on your face Mr. Shatner?

Why that intense look on your face Mr. Shatner?

Unbeknownst to them, Ms. Ballin has also managed to piss of someone other than the attorney she interviewed earlier. Colt Hawker is a psychopathic killer who’s deeply scarred since childhood and has a thing against strong women. It has something to do with his mother (surprise) and her throwing boiling hot soup in the face of his father. At first we never really see Colt’s face clearly, at least not full on.

We see enough to know who he is though, but it’s still only brief glimpses. He never utters a single word either! Not until a good 30-40 minutes into the movie and even then he’s not very talkative. I think the scene where he talks the most is the one where he picks up a girl and brings her back to his place for, what she thinks is a little roll in the hay. Man, he really works her over good! He also have a penchant for snapping photos  of his victims as they’re dying, so to say that Colt Hawker is one sick puppy would actually be an understatement.

He’s played incredibly well by Michael Ironside from Total Recall, Starship Troopers and Scanners to bring up just a few of the many films he’s done and I’ve mentioned him once or twice before in earlier reviews.

Smile! It's time to die!

Smile! It’s time to die!

Ok, so he sets his sights on Deborah and attacks her in her home one night. She barely manages to escape and ends up in hospital, but her nightmare doesn’t end here. Oh, no… it’s actually just starting! At the hospital we meet Nurse Sheila, whom Deborah befriends. She’s played by Linda Purl (Mighty Joe Young) and is a hard-working nurse who works a lot of extra shifts at the hospital to take care of her two kids.

She also work at a free clinic one day of the week, so what we have here is another strong female character and I don’t really need to tell you what happens, right? Yes, of course the killer sets his sights on her too! It wouldn’t be much of a slasher-film if he didn’t, now would it? What follows is a cat and mouse chase through dark and mostly empty hospital corridors.

Next floor... lingerie, pyjamas and certain death!

Next floor… lingerie, pyjamas and certain death!

Visiting Hours is pretty standard stuff as far as slasher-films goes. There’s nothing out of the ordinary here, but that’s not saying it’s a bad one either. No, no… not at all! It does exactly what it sets out to do, which is to scare you. There are some truly creepy and unsettling scenes in it and the score is an eerie one.

It’s actually a (little) bit reminiscent of the one John Carpenter did for Halloween although at points I thought it more resembled the kind of music they use for “catastrophe movies” à la Airport and the likes. I’m not complaining. I just found it amusing that that’s the way they went with it, but for the most part it’s a classic slasher-film one.

And this being a movie from this particular genre, you just know there will be scenes where you’ll be yelling at the onscreen characters to not do what you know they’ll ultimately do anyway. I’ll give you an example… Nurse Sheila comes home after a late shift and notices that her kids have left some toys out in the yard. It’s dark and the killer is hiding in the bushes.

Look behind you!

Look behind you!

Ok, ok… there’s no way she could possibly know that, but what does she do? Yup, you guessed it! She goes to pick them up. In the middle of the night! Come on! Really? Who the hell does that? I would have waited ‘til morning and made my kids pick them up by themselves. Wouldn’t you?

But this is, of course, what you’d expect from a slasher-film, right? There are supposed to be plot-holes big enough to drive buses through and people are supposed to do stupid things in them.

That’s part of their appeal dammit, and Visiting Hours has it all. Well, almost… because weirdly enough there’s no nudity here and that was more or less mandatory in these types of movies. But apart from that, it’s all here!

I like Visiting Hours! The actors are good, the setting is creepy and the scares work too, which makes this an ok flick in my book. It’s not overtly gory though, but for some reason it still made it onto the infamous UK Video Nasties list. Go figure!

So… that was my third horror pick! What do you think? Do you have any comments or thoughts on this subject? If so, please share them with me and I will see you all next week. I already have nice movie lined up for you, so until then…

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