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The Hell Plaza Oktoberfest V

Hell Plaza Oktoberfest V

Adam Jahnke - Main Page

Killer Double Feature: Bad Dreams & Visiting Hours (DVD)

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Killer Double Feature: Bad Dreams & Visiting Hours
1988/1982 (2011) - Shout! Factory
Released on DVD on September 13th, 2011

We've been through a lot these last few weeks. We've faced down masked maniacs, lady Frankensteins, mutant cockroaches, killer clowns, giant trolls, and all manner of monsters, human and otherwise. It's been a traumatic month and we should probably check into a hospital. Fortunately, Shout! Factory has us covered. They've licensed a pair of hospital-set horrors from 20th Century Fox straight out of the go-go 80s.

Bad Dreams - Jennifer Rubin's got it rough. She's lived most of her life on a commune called Unity Field, under the spell of wavy-haired cult leader Richard Lynch. Their farmhouse is destroyed in an explosion that kills everyone except Rubin, who lapses into a 13-year coma.

She wakes up in a hospital where she's put into a group therapy for borderline personalities led by psychiatrist Bruce Abbott. But it isn't long before she starts seeing Lynch, badly burned and urging her to join them in the afterworld. If she won't, he'll keep finding others to take her place.

Bad Dreams was the first film for director Andrew Fleming, who would go on to helm the goth witch flick The Craft and comedies like Hamlet 2. For a debut effort, Bad Dreams is surprisingly confident. Fleming picks some interesting music cues for the soundtrack and gets good performances from most of the cast. Lynch doesn't really need to do anything other than show up to be an effective bad guy and he's a lot of fun as the cult leader. The makeup effects are inventive and occasionally over the top, especially in the case of a couple who has the misfortune of falling into a turbine.

But the movie isn't quite an overlooked horror gem. Once we find out what's really going on, the story doesn't make a whole lot of sense. And Rubin is such a passive blank slate that you begin to wonder if anyone told her that her character's not supposed to be in a coma anymore. Still, Bad Dreams offers just enough entertainment to make it worth a look for fans of the genre. Film Rating: C+

Visiting Hours - Lee Grant stars as a crusading television personality known for her outspoken views on non-violence and women's rights. This makes her a prime target for S&M-loving psycho Michael Ironside. He brutally attacks her at home, landing Grant in the hospital. Ironside wants to finish the job, so he sneaks into the hospital (repeatedly), killing a few more people while he's at it. William Shatner, who was apparently in town for a few days and had nothing better to do, turns up sporadically as Grant's producer to offer encouragement and eat custard.

All movies require some willing suspension of disbelief but to enjoy Visiting Hours, you'll need to string your disbelief up with a noose and choke the life out of it. After Ironside's first attempt at sneaking into the hospital fails to produce the dead Lee Grant he was aiming for, he's able to come back again and again, disguised variously as an orderly, a surgeon, and a patient. Well, not “disguised” so much as just dressed up like one. And you know that moment in every slasher movie where you wonder why the characters don't just call the police? Visiting Hours has its characters not call the police while they're in a large hospital that's literally teeming with cops.

Maybe the most irritating thing about the movie is that, at times, it actually seems like it thinks it has something important to say about domestic violence. It doesn't, other than perhaps it's bad. Michael Ironside is always fun to watch but he deserves much, much better than this. Instead of watching the movie, I suggest just staring at the admittedly awesome poster for a couple hours. I guarantee you will make a better movie in your head than what the makers of Visiting Hours came up with. Film Rating: D-

Shout! Factory has spread its double feature over two separate discs and both movies look surprisingly good. These are clean, clear prints given respectable anamorphic transfers. Bad Dreams boasts a 5.1 audio mix in addition to the original 2.0, while Visiting Hours must make do with just a 2.0.

Bad Dreams gets most of the attention for extras, including a fun commentary by Andrew Fleming, new video interviews with actors Bruce Abbott, Jennifer Rubin, Dean Cameron, and Richard Lynch, a makeup effects featurette, the original ending, a vintage promo piece, photo gallery, and theatrical trailer. Visiting Hours includes four TV spots, a radio spot and a gallery. The package promises a theatrical trailer but it isn't here.

All in all, this is a nice set and a good bargain for horror fans. Bad Dreams is a fun ride and the extras give just enough context without overestimating its worth as a movie. And I'd always been curious about Visiting Hours thanks to its memorable key art. At least now I can cross that one off my list.

Film Ratings: See Above
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/B/B-

Adam Jahnke

Adam Jahnke - Main Page
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