Hospitals are scary places for many people. The medical professionals behind their masks have grown ominous over the years with reports of patients having the wrong limbs amputated, finding medical instruments stitched up inside and discovering how much they charge for a Band-Aid. It’s a frightening time in the waiting room. Killer Double Feature – Bad Dreams & Visiting Hours dare to tell the truth about health care providers. They can’t prevent you from being attacked by psychotic janitors and undead cult leaders.
Bad Dreams (1988 – 83 minutes) looks like a nice tale about people living in the countryside. Except it turns out the people are part of the Unity Field cult led by Richard Lynch (Invasion U.S.A.). He’s decided that it’s time to truly unify the group. Will they do this through a group bonding game like sitting on each others knees in a circle? Nope. He blesses them with gasoline and strikes a match. Their little love compound explodes. Normally that would be the end of the movie, but luckily Jennifer Rubin (A Woman, Her Men, And Her Futon) survives the blast. The bad news is that she’s stuck in a coma for an unlucky 13 years. She has no memory of the mass suicide. Thankfully the psychiatrist Bruce Abbott (Re-Animator) brings back those memories. What he also brings back is the spirit of the mutilated Lynch. She must join the rest of the cult in the after life. In order to coerce her, Lynch begins killing people at the psychiatric hospital. Her only hope appears to be police detective Sy Richardson (Repo Man). But can he really help against an undead nutjob that looks like a burned meatloaf?
Visiting Hours (1982 – 105 minutes) brings more mayhem in the health care system. Lee Grant is an outspoken TV news reporter. Her latest crusade is to free a battered wife that killed her abusive husband. Producer William Shatner (Star Trek) wants her to tone down her antics. Little does he know she’s pioneering the airwaves for Nancy Grace. Turns out she does upset a viewer. Janitor Michael Ironside (Total Recall) must teach her a lesson by nearly killing her. She’s shipped off to a hospital to recover. Turns out that Ironside wants to finish the job. His cover as a janitor lets him slip past lax security to get a second shot at proving that domestic violence isn’t that bad. What’s really interesting is that the movie was made in Montreal. The socialized medicine in Canada isn’t better than America hospitals when it comes to preventing psycho killers from roaming the halls.
Bad Dreams & Visiting Hours make a fine double feature with women in sensible shoes being chased down the hallways. Luckily the situations in both films are different so you’re not getting spoon fed variations of the same scares. These might be the only two horror films from the ‘80s that haven’t been remade in the last decade. These films have as many frights and scares as opening up an insurance company statement.
The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. Both films look fine with plenty of gory details. Lynch’s burn make up might cause weak stomachs to puke. The audio on Bad Dreams is 5.1 Digital Surround and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo. Visiting Hours has a 2.0 Dolby Digital Track. You should crank all of them just so you can get extra scared in the dark.
Fans of these two films will be happy to know that Shout! Factory has seen to it that both get a nice assortment of extras. Take a look.
Commentary with Director Andrew Fleming is charmingly informative. He swears he was only 12 years old when he made the movie. He wrote the script in film school and sold it at his first meeting. The rural landscape of the cult house is now over run with subdivisions.
Dream Cast (21:34) features Jennifer Rubin, Bruce Abbott, Richard Lynch and Dean Cameron discussing their roles in Bad Dreams. Dean Cameron talks about how he landed the gig after Summer School. He used the music of Slayer to pump him up for the casting call.
Make-Up Effects Featurette (2:09) is a publicity piece from the original release. Michele Burke discusses what she did to create the illusion of slit throats and burns. She lately handles Tom Cruise’s make up including his transformations in Tropic Thunder and Rock of Ages.
Behind the Scenes (9:14) is video shot around the locations. You get a sense how they blew up a car.
The Original Ending (9:53) comes with the timecode and only a rough audio mix. No need to spoil it.
Promo (3:44) is the electronic media kit with Gale Ann Hurd swearing this will start off a new sub-genre.
Photo Gallery contains dozens of production photos from Bad Dreams. There’s quite a few nice poses from Sy Richardson.
Trailer (1:44) does a fine job of setting up the cult scares of Bad Dreams.
TV Spots (2:08) are a series of 4 ads that turn the windows of the hospital into a skull. This rocks.
Radio Spots (0:32) has the screams of a preview audience.
Photo Gallery has numerous pictures including quite a few of Williams Shatner.
Killer Double Feature – Bad Dreams & Visiting Hours feature the worst medical deductibles of all time.
Shout! Factory presents Killer Double Feature – Bad Dreams & Visiting Hours. Starring: Jennifer Rubin, Richard Lynch, Lee Grant, Michael Ironside and William Shatner. Boxset Content: 2 films on 2 DVDs. Released on DVD: September 13, 2011. Available at Amazon.com.
Tags: Star Trek, William Shatner