Thursday, 19 September 2013



Here's a mystery. Why can you get Unhinged, The Witch Who Came From The Sea and The Devil Hunter on British DVD but you can't get this one? Those movies, and a dozen others, are absolute rubbish, but they're easily available while this far superior shocker, that also graced the video nasties list, has vanished from UK circulation despite having a terrific name cast and some genuine surprises (not the least of which is the 20th Century Fox logo at the start). Yes, it's twaddle and the plot is absurd (though scarcely more than the average 80s slasher junk), but it's well shot and at least it thinks it's having a go at social issues rather than just wheeling on some photogenic idiots and artlessly butchering them. That the amateurish and tedious Unhinged is on shop shelves while this admittedly sleazy but far more upmarket slasher picture is accessible only as a Region 1 import or an illegitimate YouTube stream is frankly an injustice.

Let's not kid ourselves, Visiting Hours is resoundingly silly with a mad slasher frequently bungling his kills and knowingly leaving witnesses alive, so bungling and incompetent it might almost be called Carry On Stabbing. Following her public condemnation of a clearly unfair verdict in a domestic abuse case, tenacious and crusading TV anchor Lee Grant ends up in hospital having been attacked by confused loonie Michael Ironside. Is he going to try again? What if he blunders and kills the wrong person? How many different ways can he find to get into the hospital and through the supposedly tight security? Meanwhile Grant's boss and boyfriend William Shatner (!!!!) hovers around doing nothing and is generally underused; he doesn't even get a fight scene with the loonie or take his shirt off.

Though there are undoubtedly some dodgy moments that warranted the DPP's interest, such as Ironside lovingly caressing a young woman's semi-naked body with a knife, Visiting Hours is pretty tame stuff compared with the genuine nasties like Cannibal Holocaust and I Spit On Your Grave; indeed years ago it even played on ITV. It's mostly bloodless and profanity-free, but it's glossy and reasonably budgeted so it looks pretty good (unlike so many slashers where the night sequences are indiscernible through the murk). As a hospital horror it's leagues beyond the inexcusably rubbish X-Ray and the disappointing Halloween II, it's generally good nasty entertainment and for all the silliness it's rather good fun.


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