Reviewed by Ned Daigle
Rating: 5 Beans
or fans of the horror/slasher genre that was so prevalent in the 80s, you could always count on, at the very least, was a high gory body count. I mean, let's face it, no one watched these flicks (including me) for award-winning acting or intelligent scripts. We wanted the excitement of wanton violence. "Visiting Hours" proved that even if you hired supposed talented actors and tried to give your screenplay insight and subtext, your film would be just as bad as the others....but boring to boot.
How Oscar-winner Lee Grant got sucked into this flick is the real mystery. After embarassing herself with her screen-chewing in "Airport '77", I suppose she wanted to play something more subdued. In "Visiting Hours", Grant is a TV talk show host whose topics are about violence against women. Because of this pro-feminist slant she evokes the ire from TV viewer Michael Ironside, who, after a particularly volatile show, tracks Grant to her house and attacks her.
This thrill-less opener sets the basic tone for the rest of the film. Grant walks around the house for a long while before finally noticing her housekeeper has been hacked to death; and when she finally runs into her attacker, Ironside, he jumps out at her with a butcher knife while wearing every necklace and earring she owns. I guess it's just to show how crazy he really is.
Anyway, she escapes with the help of the handy dumb-waiter and is rescued by the cops. And so goes the rest of the film, with Grant laid up in the hospital (with nothing more than a slashed hand mind you) for days, while knowing, KNOWING mind you, that her attacker will find her. So now we have fun with "Let's stalk the candy-stripers".
For some reason we get a unnecessary subplot involving single-mom nurse Linda Purl as she makes her rounds and proves what a self-reliant gal she is, only to have Ironside follow her home and drive a knife into her guts. The lengthy scene with Purl, bleeding and whimpering while Ironside stands over her watching is particularly misogynistic and uncomfortable. That's not to mention the scene involving Ironside bringing a hooker to his apartment so he can tell her what trash she is before beating her to a pulp.
Grant and Ironside duke it out in a grand finale and she kills him, a stand-up move for independent women everywhere.
I suppose the filmmakers behind "Visiting Hours" thought they were providing their dreary little slasher pic with a feminism edge. But, sadly, the opposite effect is true. Rarely has violence towards women been taken to such a degree of glee as this one.
I didn't even mention the blink-and-you'll-miss-it pointless cameo of William Shatner. Or the laughable plot device of having a tiny little bell that Ironside wears around his neck "ding" wherever he goes, which signals Grant of his whereabouts, oh, every five seconds or so.
It's impossibly slow flicks like "Visiting Hours" that make "Happy Birthday to Me" look really good by comparison.
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