The plot of this movie is quite simple: a cuckoo nutso (Michael Ironside) gets a murderous hard-on for TV news reporter Deborah Ballin (Lee Grant). He attacks her in her home but botches the job; Ballin survives and is taken to the county hospital. Mr. Psycho follows and attempts to finish the job.
Ah, so short and so sweet. I must say, the first 15 minutes or so of this movie are pure gold. Once the theme music started, I thought I was in for a real treat. Playing over the opening credits was some sort of awesome early-80s synth track that sounded like the byproduct of a night of sweet sweet lovemaking by the themes of Halloween and Friday the 13th...I was ready to roll, baby! Initially, the film didn't disappoint. The scenes in Ballin's home were definitely intense. Coming home to a quiet house...the shower's running, windows are open...knowing something's wrong, knowing someone's in the house but having no idea where- that's good horror movie mojo at work. By the time Ironside jumped out all naked but for an exorbitant amount of Deborah's clip-on jewelry, I was ready to proclaim my love for Visiting Hours. Girl, and don't even get me started on how much the dumb waiter rocked. I want a dumb waiter. I want to transfer snacks and my cats from floor to floor in an easy fashion.
The high points continued even after the cut-up-but-not-dead reporter was transferred to the hospital. I loved the scene where Mr. Psycho cuts the air hose of that poor old woman, mistakenly thinking she's Ballin. He sits on her bed and calmly watches her gasping for air, then starts taking pictures as she dies. That's hardcore! Very, very creepy. And who does a better creep than Michael Ironside?
Then, before I knew it, something went horribly wrong. It's as if the filmmakers simply ran out of ideas, so all these subplots entered the picture. See, that's the problem with these movies wherein there's one specific victim the killer is after: you know the victim isn't going to die before the movie's end, so there's never any real danger or tension.
You know, come to think of it, I wish there were more short horror films. Maybe that should be the new wave: half hour horror. Think of how many movies would kick ass if they weren't stretched out to 90-odd minutes! If the original When a Stranger Calls had been kept to a slim and sexy half hour, it would be the perfect horror film. Same goes with Visiting Hours, it seems. Keep it short and the world will be singing your praises and touching themselves because of your awesomeness. Added filler to hit the 90-minute mark just makes for BOREDOM. There are huge stretches where no one dies...movies become "thrillers" as opposed to "horror movies"...there's far too many subplots that no one cares about...I start thinking about other things, I fall asleep, or I wish I could fall asleep. I was shocked- shocked I tells ya- when Visiting Hours was over and I discovered that it was, in fact, less than five hours long. I thought for sure it was an Original Lifetime Televison Mini-Series Event.
All in all, I'd say this movie was more dull than it was bad. 'Tis a shame, too, because it started out pretty damn good. I'm afraid, ladies and germs, that what we have here is what is known as a Tiffany.
I did learn some things from Visiting Hours, though. Among them:
-I have now heard what can only be called The World's Most Fucking Irritating Baby Doll Cry
-Babysitters are very forward. They will sleep at your house in the nude and hop into bed with you whilst wearing naught but a towel.
-Hospitals keep dogs locked up in their basements
-A high heel pummeling a hand will make me laugh
-The tiniest bell can make the loudest sounds
-If your movie has a great tagline ("So frightening you'll never recover"), do not change it to a lesser tagline for the re-release ("There is no known cure for murder"). First of all, even if that first tagline is blatantly untrue, it still rocks. Second, kids figure out that second tagline the first time they step on an ant. It's just silly.
-Do not trust a pale, vaguely sweaty man in a leather (or perhaps pleather) tank top
-No one on Earth should ever wear a leather (or perhaps pleather) tank top
There you go, folks. Another one bites the dust. As always, if you watched and wrote about Visiting Hours on your own site, be sure to link to your review in the comments section.
Here are quick links to other awesome people who reviewed Visiting Hours for the film club:
*House of Irony
*he who is...Josh
Some other reviews of Visiting Hours:
*Moriarty of Ain't It Cool News