VISITING HOURS (1982) Reviews and overview

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visiting hours poster

‘The hospital where your next visit… will be your last’

Visiting Hours is a 1982 Canadian slasher horror film directed by Jean-Claude Lord (The Vindicator) from a screenplay by Brian Taggert (Trucks; Omen IV; Poltergeist IIIOf Unknown Origin; et al). It stars Lee Grant, William Shatner and Michael Ironside.

In the UK, Visiting Hours was released as an uncut Blu-ray + DVD combo by Final Cut Entertainment on 18 September 2017.

Buy Blu-ray + DVD:

Extras include:

  • Interview with actress Lind Purl (9 mins)
  • Interview with director Jean Claude Lord (15mins)
  • Interview with writer Brian Taggert (15 mins)
  • Interview with producer Pierre David (17mins)


Synopsis from Final Cut Blu-ray:

“Deborah Ballin is a controversial middle-aged TV journalist, who is campaigning on air on behalf of a battered woman who murdered her abusive husband, claiming justifiable defence against the so-called victim. But her outspoken views championing women’s rights incense one of the studio’s cleaning staff, closet homicidal psycho (and misogynist) Colt Hawker whose deep seated despising all all things female occurred from seeing his mother throwing boiling oil in the face of his abusive Father when he was a small child (and who’s M.O. is to photograph victims he stabs as they’re dying ). So much so that he decides there and then to shut her up… permanently!

Managing to beat her home, he soon dispatches her maid Francine, before turning his rage onto her as she come home (greeting her in only wearing her jewellery and make-up). Despite the brutal injuries he lashes out on her, she manages to survive and is rushed off to hospital. But undaunted he catches up to her in hospital and disguised as a florist… he enter the building to continue his mission to finish her off… along with anyone else who gets under his skin.”


“Visiting Hours more closely resembles the polished, eccentric thrillers of early Brian De Palma than a true slasher, celebrating structural conventions of the genre even while deviating from its gimmicks.” DVD Drive-In

“The film has some strikingly perverse images – like the scene where Michael Ironside slashes an old lady’s oxygen tube and sits taking photographs as she expires; or the killing of Harvey Atkin by Ironside shoving a rubber ball into his mouth and taping it shut. On the minus side, the film never amounts of anything more than a series of stalking and pursuit sequences – ones that continue almost without interruption for 90 minutes.” Richard Scheib, Moria


“Although the movie is about fifteen minutes longer than it needs to be, Visiting Hours still manages to carve itself out a spot as an above average slasher thanks to two key factors, this first of which is Ironside’s relentless performance. He’s a big guy and he uses his size to his advantage here…” Rock! Shock! Pop!

“Visiting Hours more closely resembles the polished, eccentric thrillers of early Brian De Palma than a true slasher, celebrating structural conventions of the genre even while deviating from its gimmicks.” DVD Drive-In81KyNUTJCcL._SL1500_


“The movie has a bit of a thoughtful undercurrent with its shallow musings on violence and abused women. One of the running threads involves Grant’s insistence on non-violence, which is of course tested by her traumatic experiences; the ultimate resolution of the film has some interesting psychological implications, I guess, as you’ll question just who “won,” really.” Oh, the Horror!

” …the picture as a whole is slick and professionally done. Somehow this doesn’t help matters much though, and the overlong running time makes the hurt even worse. Stephan Dupuis and Michele Burke, a dynamic effects duo if ever there was one, are credited with the movies special makeup effects, but unfortunately aside from some slight scarring on Ironside’s face they don’t seem to be any.” Caelum Vatnsdal, They Came from Within

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“While Ironside (Scanners) contributes a memorably depraved performance, Visiting Hours is a fairly repugnant film that seems to share its killer’s attitude towards women. Director Jean Claude Lord does manage to build some effective suspense sequences, but overall his direction is hyperactive – as is the annoyingly insistent musical score by Jonathan Goldsmith.” James J. Mulay (editor), The Horror Film

visiting hours

“As conflicted as it occasionally seems and as unfocused as the feminist viewpoint is, it’s a really sharp thriller with slasher overtones that is probably the best of a rather scant subgenre.” Video Junkie

“Revisiting it now, courtesy of Final Cut Entertainment’s new dual format (Blu-ray/DVD) release, I’ve not only found a new appreciation for the film itself, but also for the cinematography, which had been previously muddied by inferior VHS transfers. This suspenseful slice of 80s slasher is well worth the revisit.” Kultguy’s Keep

“Jean Claude Lord’s may resort to so many of the clichés associated with the slasher phenomenon, but it also introduces a cast of strong women who are prepared to fight for their lives rather the usual stock of teen fodder. Visiting Hours couldn’t be described as a gory piece, but Lord wasn’t adverse to lingering over his death scenes…” Peter Normanton, The Mammoth Book of Slasher Movies

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Visiting Hours skips from genre-to-genre like a frog with ADHD, never sticking with being a slasher film, or an anchorwoman-in-peril thriller, or boring hospital soap. At times it manages to straddle all three at once. Make no mistake, this is no Halloween II. Or Hospital Massacre.” Vegan Voorhees

“The second half is very clever and exciting, leading to an awesome final girl chase at the end and a great final fight, as well. Really, this is more of a suspense-thriller than a slasher movie. Granted, there are quite a few bloody kills throughout, thanks to Mr. Ironside and his huge switchblade, but they are really drawn out. The focus here is on the suspense than the kills thankfully and it makes for a very watchable, edge of your seat type thriller.” Ronnie Angel, Slashed Dreams

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“The problem with this film is that the clichéd script, stock situations and overwrought, over-insistent direction simply exploit Grant and her plight as a means of generating shock and suspense in the most perfunctory way imaginable.” Phil Hardy (editor), The Aurum Film Encyclopedia 

” …it is a slasher flick through and through, playing on a common fear (this time of hospitals) and featuring cat-and-mouse antics between the chaser and chased. It is also interesting as it pits liberal feminism against macho right-wing bigotry – a battle that was happening for real in America at the time.” J.A. Kerswell, Teenage Wasteland

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Cast and characters:

  • Michael Ironside as Colt Hawker (Still/Born; Patient Seven; Reeker; Scanners; et al)
  • Lee Grant as Deborah Ballin (Mulholland Doctor; The Swarm; Damien: Omen II; The Spell)
  • Linda Purl as Sheila Munroe (Bones; Fear of the Dark)
  • William Shatner as Gary Baylor (A Christmas Horror Story; Kingdom of the Spiders; The Devil’s Rain; Incubus; et al)
  • Lenore Zann as Lisa (The Mummy: Secrets of the Medjai)
  • Harvey Atkin as Vinnie Bradshaw
  • Michael J. Reynolds as Porter Halstrom
  • Len Watt as Clement Pine
  • Kirsten Bishop as Denise
  • Robbie Robinson as Matthew
  • Lorena Gale as First Nurse


visitig hours poster

Release and censorship:

In the US, the film was released theatrically by 20th Century Fox in May 1982. It was released on DVD by Anchor Bay Entertainment in 2006.  It was released by Shout Factory along with Bad Dreams as a double feature DVD on September 13, 2011 and as a Blu-ray on February 18, 2014.

In the UK in 1982, The Visitor was passed with an ‘X’ certificate by the BBFC following 1 minutes and 10 seconds of cuts as follows:

  • Cut to edit a scene where Colt traces his switchblade knife across Lisa before slashing her shirt
  • Cuts to shots of Colt stabbing Sheila and to her pained facial expression
  • More cuts in the same scene with Colt kicking her Sheila to get a response for the photographs he is taking of her.

This censored version was released on VHS by CBS/Fox in 1983 yet was still briefly listed as a ‘video nasty’ in September 1984. However, it was dropped from the list in November 1984.

In 1986, the cut cinema version was passed ’18’ without further by the BBFC for a CBS/Fox video release

On British television, ITV broadcast the uncut version (perhaps unknowingly?) in 1989 and were subsequently rebuked by the British Broadcasting Standards Authority.

Film Facts:

The film’s shooting title was The Fright

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