Visiting Hours

Director: Jean-Claude Lord (1982)
Starring: Lee Grant, Michael Ironside, William Shatner
Find it: IMDB

"Hey asshole, what gives?" you say, impatiently, "I come here for up-to-date reviews of the most recent horror releases, and yet here you are talking about a stupid psycho film no-one has ever heard of from 1982! I need found footage and mobile phones - not this irrelevant eighties bullshit." While there is a distinct lack of found footage and mobile phones (it was the eighties - only Gordon Gekko could afford one) is as depressingly relevant as ever. If not more so, given recent events and movements of our time.

I refer, of course, to the surprisingly popular practice of threatening to kill and/or rape women who say things that one might disagree with. Made in the early eighties, Visiting Hours doesn't even have its leading lady criticising Super Mario Bros (or whatever it is the kids are playing these days) to justify their killer's behaviour. Which just goes to show that some men will find any excuse to go around threatening to murder and rape women. In this case, it's feminist telly personality Deborah Ballin railing against domestic violence in one of her TV spots. Fantastically named psychopath Colt Hawker (Ironside) doesn't take too kindly to this woman having opinions and sets about hunting Deborah down. Well, without Twitter, the trolls of the 80s had to find alternative outlets for their aggression - like writing horrible semi-abusive letters to newspapers, for instance.

Related photograph.

After Colt's first attempt at murdering Deborah goes wrong, the pair of them wind up at the local hospital - she incapacitated with a broken arm, he determined to finish the job. It's just a shame about all those nurses and other patients that keep getting in his way - mostly down to Colt's inability to kill anyone without making a massive racket and alerting anyone and everyone in the nearby vicinity.

Ironside is fantastic as the mysoginist serial killer of the piece, his magnetic, snarling psychopath enthralling as much as he repulses and terrifies. I particularly enjoyed his leather vest, which sort of makes me wish Ironside had been cast in an early Die Hard sequel as some sort of anti-Bruce Willis, maybe also set in a hospital. Lee Grant does a sterling job as Deborah, although she's in it less than you might imagine - most of our time being spent with either Ironside or the young nurse he also has his eye on throughout. Still, when she does get to kick ass, she does so in a manner befitting Laurie Strode herself. It speaks volumes that William Shatner is in Visiting Hours and winds up being one of the least memorable things about it. Well, as set dressing goes, you can do far worse than William Shatner, whether he does anything or not.

There's an impressive atmosphere to Visiting Hours, being one of the more vicious and unpleasant pscyho-thrillers I've ever seen. It's sleazy and frequently nasty - the amount of time we spent with Colt quickly getting under the skin and keeping the audience unsettled throughout. He's deliciously unpredictable and oh-so beautifully 80s era Michael Ironside.

As effective as it is, the most notable thing about Visiting Hours (Ironside aside) is how predictably relevant it remains. It's only a YouTube or GamerGate reference away from modernity. The leather vest (shut up, it's great) and lack of mobile phones may date it a little, but, for some, violent misogyny never goes out of fashion. 


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