Review Date: March 14, 2000
Released by: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release date: 3/21/2000
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes
A series of brutal murders are occuring in New York. Each murder involving the victim being handcuffed and murdered. The killer is dubbed the "handcuff killer". Police office Larry Weeks (Norman Parker), an aspiring comic, is on the case but has very little evidence to go on. Local talk show host and friend to Weeks, Mac McCormack (Perry King), approaches Weeks in hopes of getting some inside information on the case. He makes a deal with Weeks - in exchange for inside information, Mac will help Weeks get into show business through the TV network his show is on. Weeks disobeys a direct order from his Chief and agrees to give Mac inside information on the "handcuff killer". Mac begins to dedicate his TV show to the case of the "handcuff killer".
An art student by the name of Virna Nightbourne (Elizabeth Kemp) has a special psychic gift. She has the ability to draw things while they're happening somewhere else. As each murder takes place she draws it and then reads about it in the newspaper the next day to confirm what's she's drawing is really happening. Finally she goes to the police and begins to aid them in their investigation to find the killer. She submits drawings of the murders and a piece of the object that the killer owns.
Virna soon agrees to go on Mac's TV show to explain what her power is and what she's been doing. The killer catches on to what Virna is doing and targets her as his next victim. Having survived one murder attempt by the killer, Virna realizes she must try and draw the face of the killer to save not only the lives of others, but her own as well. Unfortunately for Virna the killer has other plans and has no intention of letting her draw that final picture.
The Killing Hour is a fairly mediocre film. The acting was decent from pretty much everyone except police officer Weeks, who I thought was a horrible actor. The plot is your standard murder/mystery style plot where the main lead and the police have no idea who the killer is, and the audience is expected to come up with their own guesses. The problem is that about 30 minutes into the film I was 100% sure who the killer was. And after watching the film and reading the back cover to the DVD, I realized that the plot outline on the back just about gives away who the killer is (consider that a warning to anyone wanting to view this film - don't read the back cover to the DVD prior to watching it). And the strange thing is I don't think the film is purposely trying to do that because you don't truly find out who the killer is until the final minutes. Perhaps it was just a lucky guess on my part but I'm not normally good at guessing the killer. I won't stay on this subject too long as I do not wish to ruin the film for anyone who plans on watching it. I just felt there wasn't much mystery to this film.
Horror fans may not be too interested in this film due to the lack of gore. The killing scenes are few and far between with virtually no gore to be seen. Some may not mind this but I was certainly expecting more. There was no tension buildup in the film and I found none of the scenes in the film, except a flashback scene towards the end of the film, to be disturbing or creepy to me. Watching a film like this really makes me appreciate films like Tenebre and Torso that do manage to instill some fear into me and creep me out a bit while watching them. Not only that but they managed to keep you in suspense as to who the killer is without giving it away so easily.
Anchor Bay has given us another fantastic transfer with The Killing Hour. It is presented letterboxed at a 1.85:1 aspect ratio with a new anamorphic transfer. The transfer is sharp and detailed. The colors were strong and flesh tones appeared accurate. Virtually no grain or blemishes or were seen on this transfer. For a forgotten film from 1982 this is an extremely impressive presentation by Anchor Bay.
The Killing Hour is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound. For a film so old it's surprising it got the 5.1 remix, but Anchor Bay has given films like Nosferatu (1979), Tenebre and many more the same treatment. The rears weren't active very much during the film except for the murder scenes, but I found that to be fairly effective and there weren't too many other spots in the film where they could've use the rears.
Dialogue and score were clear with no distortion detected.
Normally I'd be shocked for such a forgotten film to get a commentary track, but Anchor Bay has proven that it gives the fans what they want - high quality presentation with as many as extras as possible. The commentary track consists of Director Armand Mastroianni and William Lustig, who was involved with the restoration of this film (William has also done work on the Halloween restoration that was used on latest Halloween DVD releases from Anchor Bay). Armand and William have been friends a long time and that certainly shows during the commentary. They talk about old times, how they first met, etc. William, being a director himself, pipes in and gives Armand a hard times about certain things he did or didn't do in the film (like lack of gore). Overall I found the commentary to be a bit boring - there were too many gaps and it seemed like these guys really didn't have any idea what to talk about. They kept straying off topic and didn't give too much insight on the film. They did talk a little about the various actors and some of the location shots but I just kept getting distracted when they strayed off topic. I was relieved when Director Armand Mastroianni explained the title of the film because after watching the film I really didn't have any idea why it was called The Killing Hour. They also explained why the film was released with the title The Clairvoyant (Fox was the original distributor for the film and they came up with this wonderful [being sarcastic here] name).
Also on the DVD you'll find four deleted scenes, a theatrical trailer and a talent bios detailing the career of Director Armand Mastroianni. It was interesting to find out that Armand Mastroianni gave Tom Hanks his first break into show business in the 1980 film He Knows You're Alone.
Not sure if I would even recommend this as a rental. I think most people will be fairly disappointed in the story. No doubt you get a wonderful DVD here with a good amount of extras and a wonderful audio/video presentation but that doesn't help the movie be any better. On a plus note the DVD does only retail for $24.98, so anyone who bought it out of the blue isn't wasting too much money.
Movie - C
Image Quality - A
Sound - B
Supplements - B-
- Running Time - 1 hour 37 minutes
- 1 Disc
- Chapter stops
- Dolby Digital 5.1
- Audio Commentary with Director Armand Mastroianni and William Lustig
- Theatrical trailer
- Deleted Scenes
- Talent Bios