In the commentary track, director Armand Mastroianni explains that The Killing Hour (1982, 97 minutes, aka. The Clairvoyant) isn't REALLY a horror movie ... "it's more of a psychological thriller." It's the same old story. They'll start shooting a horror script and swear up and down that THEY'RE NOT REALLY DOING A HORROR MOVIE. And what usually results is a weenie version of a movie that has a premise with horror potential, some good to great scenes, and a bunch of bullstuff in between ... in other words, The Killing Hour. It's real disappointing, especially from a guy who slashed his way into the business with He Knows You're Alone (1980) ... Tom Hanks' first picture.
The movie: Someone's bumping folks off in all sorts of clever ways, but each murder involves the use of handcuffs in some way. One scene is particularly grisly: A swimmer starts to make his way out of the YMCA pool, only to have his ankle clamped to the bottom-most run, leaving his head just inches from the surface. He does enough splashin and gaspin to give Charlie Manson the willies. The kicker to all this is that this gal, Elizabeth Kemp (as Virna Nightbourne), finds herself drawing eerie depictions of the murders -- with details only the police would be aware of. She goes to the cops with her sketches and from then on she's sought after by two potential nekkid Twister playmates. There's Perry King (as Paul McCormack) a new-kid-on-the-TV block, looking to make a name for himself by capitalizing on the drama of the murders. And a wanna-be comedian, but full time police detective, Norman Parker (as Larry Weeks), who's just plain sweet on Virna. Maybe he likes the headbands. Who knows? After we get everything set up, stuff gets real boring, real fast. Is he the handcuff killer? No, wait, she is! No, no. Him! Blah, blah, blah. There's also some exhausting time spent on the romancing of Ms. Nightbourne. And then finally ... finally, finally ... the last reel rolls and you get to see some dark stuff the MPAA couldn't handle back in '82. Nothing you can't see on Fox any night of the week these days, but it certainly ties the whole picture together. Once again, a horror movie that tries too hard not to be one and really suffers for it. The standup comedy rage of the '80s is a big player, as the NYC comedy club, The Comic Strip, hosts a few scenes. Dune fanatics should look for the late Kenneth McMillan (aka. Baron Vladimir Harkonnen) as the crusty police Captain Cullum.
Notables: Two breasts. Five corpses. Psychic doodling. Corpse fishing. Elevator disaster. Drowning. One dead dog. Gratuitous Dennis Wolfberg. Voluntary freefall. Electrocution. One sissy brawl. Window diving. Strangulation. Runaway car. S&M diddling.
Quotables: Early in the film, Detective Weeks actually tells Virna, "I'm not going to let anything happen to you." Uh huh. Sure.
Time codes: Painful Woody Allen impression (9:35). Annie Hall poster in background (22:41). Part of the late great Dennis Wolfberg's standup act (1:06:18). Runaway car, runaway car! (1:13:00). Best scene in the whole flick (1:31:00).
Audio/Video: Pretty good in both categories. Presented in its original widescreen (1.85:1) format, with both Dolby surround 2.0 and 5.1 audio. Alexander Perskanov's score sounds especially nice.
Extras: Never before seen director's cut. Five deleted scenes. Somewhat educational commentary by director Armand Mastroianni and pal Bill Lustig (Maniac, Uncle Sam). The two started together in the business and it's great to hear them reminisce. Menus are creatively done in the style of Virna's sketches. Theatrical trailer.
Final thought: Seems a lot longer than it is. Suspense is too often frittered away. Rent it.
G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.