Visiting Hours (1982)

Genres - Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Thriller  |   Release Date - May 28, 1982 (USA)  |   Run Time - 105 min.  |   Countries - Canada , United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Jeremy Wheeler

A staple of video box cover classics, Visiting Hours is also known as one of the leaders in the horror hospital subgenre that scattered cineplexes in the early '80s. Michael Ironside delivers a chilling performance as a deranged lunatic, tortured by memories of his abusive past and hell-bent on taking it out on journalist Lee Grant, an advocate against domestic violence. What's strange is that though the film is definitely a suspense tale, it also has some clear points to make about how violence is ingrained in society and the role that females play in it. As unusually deep as that might be for a genre film around this time, the movie still manages to deliver some powerful scares (especially Ironside's disturbing first reveal). In fact, he's really the reason to catch the flick, given that the film is still quite at the beginning of his career and only a few years after his explosive breakthrough in Scanners. Additionally, Grant does a fine job at turning the woman-in-peril role on its head, not only because of the obvious casting decision to buck the teenage bimbo craze, but because there's more to the flick than just your simple slasher story and she knows it. William Shatner is a welcome face whenever his character pops up, though he really isn't given much more than a bookend role for the film. Screenwriter Brian Taggert later dumbed down and scribed two lesser known and regarded Poltergeist and Omen sequels, never quite living up to the promise that he showed in this one.