Horror

Horror films, traditional 80s movies from the slasher boom, to supernatural, found footage, cannibal, comedy horrors and zombie films.

Visiting Hours

It’s usually cats that provide a movie’s jump scares, and Visiting Hours offers a bit of a twist, throwing in a parrot, (the subject of an excellent joke involving a bar, bread, and the bird’s beak — not in the movie).

A slow-burn Canadian* stalk ‘n’ slash, Visiting Hours is a 1982 video nasty that features a one-two punch of Canuxploitation, Michael Ironside and William Shatner, Mike as the creeper and Bill in a small role as a by-the-book TV producer (and Montreal provides the backdrop for the unnamed American city setting).

The killer, Colt Hawker, takes snapshots of his vics, one of whom is Kevorkian-ed in the intensive care unit of the local County General.

The title, visiting hours, comes from a daddy issues backstory (Colt’s father is a patient at the hospital) and the killer flashes back to his hard-drinking abusive pops, now senile, wheelchair-bound and in a gown.

After a local provocateur-journalist, Deborah (played by Lee Grant, Oscar nominee for Detective Story) escapes his clutches, his knife lunges bypassing her aorta wall by mere centimeters, Colt spends the film trying to kill the one witness to his sordid crimes. (In her book, I Said Yes to Everything: A Memoir, Lee  Grant claims that Visiting Hours was a “B- minus movie…which I’d already turned down.” Hey, you gots to pay the bills. Film critic Leonard Maltin “hoped she was well paid for this junk”).

In the interim, the killer busies himself with picking up and then abusing a punk rock chick at the local diner (with his slicked-back hair and leather jacket, Ironside is quite a catch).

Visiting Hours has more in common with Don’t Answer the Phone! and Maniac than it does any of the expendable camp counselor/college co-ed movies that came out around the same time.

As far as healthcare horrors go, it’s better made, but not nearly as gloriously goofy as Hospital Massacre.

Still, there’s a lot more going on here than meets the eye, and Visiting Hours shows remarkable restraint.

*** (out of 5)

*It appears Michael Ironside’s character is driving a Zamboni at one point. That’s extra “Canadian” points.

Rabid

This David Cronenberg body horror entry is pretty bawdy too. Rabid is one of the funnier film’s in the director’s oeuvre, but then again, that’s akin to being Tyler Perry’s most cerebral Madea. Still, we don’t go to him seeking a yuk-fest. We go to DC for some prime earth-shattering, teeth-chattering horror.

In the early Cronenberg movies we are frequently cautioned about encroaching scientism, evil precision tinkering that spans the macro to the micro-scope.

And that’s what we get in spades in Rabid.

There’s a gloomy research hospital in the middle of some misbegotten landscape. And it must spring into action to perform trauma surgery on a young woman (Rose, played by Marilyn Chambers), something for which they’re not really equipped. Instead, under the direction of the terrifically-handled Dr. Keloid (named, appropriately, after a collagen scar) the patient receives an experimental graft.

Graft is an interesting double-entendre, something that Rabid really explores: it’s both a piece of transplanted tissue, and also bribery, used to secure illicit gain, something Cronenberg explores as of course, investors are interested in profiting from this out-there medical practice.

Rose, still in a coma from the fiery crash, is visited by a friend, Lloyd. Suddenly, she springs to life and bites him, and the wound sustained to his rib cage isn’t clotting when he’s given an examination at the local General. And he doesn’t remember any of what had transpired.

We suddenly see that Rose is experiencing a nasty treatment side-effect: a vaginal, pulsating orifice under her armpit which extrudes a proboscis.

With Lloyd and Rose infected, the Keloid Clinic becomes Ground Zero for a rabies-like outbreak (there’s even mention of swine flu by a talking head on the evening news), which spreads throughout the Quebec countryside as the twosome venture farther afoot, she by hitchhiking, he by cab.

Rabid has a drab, austere setting (apparently, Cronenberg’s tax shelter films were frequently put into production in winter and early spring), which serves it well, and the interiors complement the interior / body horror, as you get the trademark claustrophobic feel.

**** (out of 5)

[Please check out our podcast discussion of Rabid!]