Friday, August 21, 2009

Film Review: VISITING HOURS (1982, Jean-Claude Lord)

Stars: 4 of 5.
Running Time: minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Writer Brian Taggert (OF UNKNOWN ORIGIN, POLTERGEIST III). Director Jean-Claude Lord (THE VINDICATOR, EDDIE AND THE CRUISERS II: EDDIE LIVES!). Producer Pierre David (SCANNERS, VIDEODROME). Starring Michael Ironside (EXTREME PREJUDICE, TOTAL RECALL), Lee Grant (SHAMPOO, MULHOLLAND DR., DAMIEN: OMEN II), William Shatner.
Tag-lines: "There is no known cure for...MURDER!”
Best one-liner: "God, you blast them all: blacks, Jews, Mexicans..." (written by Ironside's Joe the Plumber-esque madman)

Now there's a lot of wingnut talk these days about socialized medicine being a plot to kill old people.

Well, allow me let you all in on a little secret: MICHAEL IRONSIDE is the plot to kill old people. Or young people. Or whoever the hell gets in his way. Mostly women. And there's a good chance he'll be naked (save for some of your makeup and jewelry) when he does the deed.

Somewhere, Freddy Krueger just shit his pants.

With this production by Pierre David (Cronenberg’s early producer), we've got a prime entry in the 'medical horror' subgenre (BODY PARTS, TRAUMA, DEAD RINGERS). VISITING HOURS is a feminist horror flick, and, unlike many films that mistakenly receive that classification, it's not just because it has a female protagonist. Our heroine, Lee Grant, is a news reporter waging a one-woman battle over a miscarriage of justice involving a battered wife striking back.

She's also dating her yogurt-eating, lackey producer William Shatner.

The media coverage attracts the attention of nutballs misogynist Ironside. Now, WITHOUT Ironside, this would be a semi-poorly-paced, semi-original, but semi-mediocre slasher. WITH Ironside, it's a tour-de-force. The man is 'shit the bed' scary.



Movies like this and SCANNERS cemented his status as a man who can play 'dog-eating roles,' which, to quote the man himself, are roles where the director says "We need somebody to bite a dog in this scene– let's call Ironside."

SEE: Chick-magnet Ironside cruisin’ at a diner!

WATCH: Ironside euthanize without consent or paperwork!
GAZE: upon Ironside in a menacing pleather tank top!

EXPERIENCE: Ironside chugging a beer and purposely impaling his arm on broken glass!

This movie's got it all: gender confusion and commentary, awesome macabre 80's poster art, and a fantastic late-nite atmosphere. (My biggest issue, though, is that, for a feminist film, it doesn't especially have engaging female characters- note that all I can talk about is Ironside.) Still, four stars.

-Sean Gill

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