Great Performances in Horror: Visiting Hours. By Brian Kirst
Awardees: Lee Grant, Linda Purl and Lenore Zann
While Michael Ironside has rightfully gained a lion’s share of praise for his truly vile and understandably sadistic portrayal of Visiting Hours’ villain – (he definitely radiates eternal evil especially as he comes after Lee Grant draped in her jewelry in the first third of the film) – but it is the three main women in this piece that truly make this hardcore slasher opus a mini-classic of the 1980’s.
Lee Grant plays a feisty, outspoken news anchor who earns women hating Ironside’s wrath. After a first attack upon her life fails, Ironside’s character begins to stalk Grant in the hospital she is stationed at – putting many patients and (of course) plenty of nubile, full fleshed nurses in danger.
Grant brings a natural flamboyance and power to her role with her anger, fear and humility coming off as natural (and outlandish) as her very visible, powerful character requires. She plays well off the strong Linda Purl as her nurse and a surprisingly subdued William Shatner as her boss.
Purl herself brings a clipped strength and a light vulnerability to her character making her one of the most fascinatingly layered and relatable female characters in the slasher cannon.
Meanwhile, Lenore Zann as one of Ironside’s ‘lucky’ victims gives more recognizable motivation with her body language and a seductive glance than many Oscar nominees are capable of.
All three women ultimately make the harsh, often misogynistic violence of Visiting Hours serve a strong emotional purpose – and this is the rare horror extravaganza that will have you rooting for all 3 Final Girls at its bloody, gasping outset.