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Health Care Can Be Murder! Part 2: VISITING HOURS (1982) DVD Review

So now that you've condered purchang Shout! Factory's double-feature of Bad Dreams and Viting Hours with my review of Bad Dreams, allow me to seal the deal on that buy with my opinions on the second disc of this set, Viting Hours. (To read the first part of this review, click on the image below:)

Viting Hours 1982

THE MOVIE: PLOT (from back cover): ACADEMY AWARD-Winner Lee Grant (Best Supporting Actress in 1975 for Shampoo) stars as outspoken TV journalist Deborah Ballin, whose crusade against domestic violence enrages a creepy loner (a truly disturbing performance by Michael Ironde, Scanners) in Viting Hours. He brutally attacks the anchorwoman in her home, but Ballin survives and is hospitalized. Her assailant is enraged; he is haunted by a horrific childhood trauma...and now he has hidden himself inde the hospital to finish what he started. Can anybody - including her concerned boss (William Shatner), a frantic nurse (Linda Purl, Happy Days) or Deborah herself - stop the psycho's killing spree before it reaches ck new extremes?

One habit that I have is that after I watch a movie, I go online and read other people's opinions on the movie to see what the horror world in general feels about it. So after watching Viting Hours a couple months ago, I went on Amazon and read some reviews, and was shocked to find that there were a surpring amount of negative reviews toward this film! And they all said the same thing: "No boobs or buckets of blood!" Well, if that's all you look for in a slasher movie, this will be a major disappointment for you. But for me, this is the most suspenseful and terrifying slasher nce Halloween.

Ironde's performance as Colt Hawker is really what makes the film worth your time. Hawker is a complete psychopath that will stop at nothing to get what he wants, even if it means leaving a body count in his wake. What's worse is that he's smart. He comes up with strategies for breaking into the hospital, and even eluding the police when they figure out who he is and where he lives. He's an unsympathetic monster with surpringly human characteristics. We get to follow him through his everyday life, from where he works to his misogynistic nightlife. Ironde brings a whole new dimenon to a character that barely speaks, turning Colt Hawker into one of cinema's scariest bad guys.

All the other actors are great as well, and even William Shatner was great! While Shatner is in the film just for the film to say it has Bill Shatner in it, I thought he actually did a very good job. Of course, Lee Grant was great, as well as Linda Purl. The writing itself is flawless, with some of the most realistic tuations I've seen in a slasher film. After Ironde's second break-in at the hospital and after his second murder, the place is literally swarming with police who are checking people for weapons and stuff like that. In your average slasher, the hospital would have a few guards and nothing else. The film remains realistic in its entire 103-minute running time, and never once did I say, "That's ridiculous."

This film is also a pure example of a film managing to be brutal without much bloody bits. Whenever he kills someone, Colt Hawker takes pictures of the women while they're dying, preferably when they're nearly beaten to death. There's also a scene where a girl goes to Hawker's apartment and she gets heavily abused. The make-up effects and great acting while this is going on give the film a sadistic twist that adds to the impact it makes.

I'd say that anyone who dislikes Viting Hours either a) hates Halloween, or b) just says they like Halloween because everyone is supposed to like it. This movie is just as suspenseful, if not more so, than John Carpenter's Highlander of horror films. Colt Hawker is almost as scary as Michael Myers, but in terms of unmasked killers, Hawker is unquestionably the scariest. Lee Grant makes for a fantastic (I don't want to say final girl, nor do I want to say survivor) heroine, and Linda Purl was great as the nurse that is also targeted by Ironde. In fact, some of the most suspenseful scenes involve her character! This really is great stuff here, and I was shocked at how well-made this turned out to be. If this came out about a year before Halloween, this would be the foundation for all slashers. If you like the original Halloween and wished Halloween II was scarier, this is the answer to your prayers.


The transfer for Viting Hours is identical to the one given to Bad Dreams, nce both are ripped from the previous Anchor Bay release, with the same 1.78:1 aspect ratio and anamorphic widescreen. This isn't a complaint, though I wish they would have given the film an HD transfer, or better yet, a Blu-Ray release. The colors in this film are bright and vivid , with nice uses of blues, pinks, and greens.

Viting Hours lacks the impresve Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, but I didn't think the audio was too bad. Then again, I'm not much of an audiophile who whines about a DVD if the audio isn't squeaky clean. If I can hear it clearly, I'm satisfied. Even with that in mind, the audio does a fine job in supporting the movie.

SPECIAL FEATURES: The special features are also taken from the Anchor Bay release, but when there's so little to offer, I wish Shout! had gotten some new ones to give fans of the film.

Radio Spot: The radio spot boasts "real audience reactions" to Viting Hours, but to me, they sound really fake. It literally goes like this: SCREAM! short pause SCREAM! short pause SCREAM! the entire time. There's a slim chance it is real, but I don't think anyone would immediately think it's genuine stuff.

TV Spots: The TV spots are bacally the same thing over and over, only with the opening narrator syaing something different every time, like, "In this hospital, your next vit may be your last!" and, "A film so frightening, you may never recover!" When they use clips from the movie, they're all the same, so just seeing one of these hsould satisfy you.

Photo Gallery: A large collection of stills from the movie and posters, as well as pictures of scenes that didn't make it in the movie! I would have appreciated it if Shout! had dug up these scenes and added them as a feature, but beggars can't be choosers.

An interesting thing to note is that the back of the DVD case states the features are, "Theatrical Trailer, Radio And TV Spots." The theatrical trailer is misng, but we got a photo gallery to make up for it.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Shout! Factory has done it again by giving slasher fans something they can rejoice about! There's something in here for all the slasher fans everywhere, whether they like gory, campy slashers or serious and suspenseful slashers. While Viting Hours certainly drew the short straw in terms of DVD release, both Bad Dreams and Viting Hours are fantastic slashers that are more than worthy of your time, and both would make a great All-Night Marathon along with Halloween II and the camp-tastic Hospital Massacre, if you're in the mood for some medical madness. And with a price tag of about $14.99, it's a definite steal.
ObscureCinema101 Saturday 10/08/2011 at 06:44 PM | 84039