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CampBlood Gay Horror Reviews: Senseless Rants from a Picky Sissy

 

The Killing Hour Armand Mastroianni 1982

Eyes of Lorna Mears

A wonderfully stupid thriller from the director of He Knows You’re Alone (itself a wonderfully stupid thriller), The Killing Hour – aka The Clairvoyant – has just about every ingredient needed for a good thriller, save the most important thing: watchable leads. Very nearly destroyed by the atrocious, ham-fisted performance of Norman Parker (as cop Larry Weeks) and the mealy non-presence of Final Girl Elizabeth Kemp (as the clairvoyant and hotly-named Virna Nightbourne), The Killing Hour still manages to offer up enough distraction from these television-quality leads in the form of disturbing killings, anchormen in peril, pervy sex, and Perry King’s thighs.

The film starts out with a woman’s hand sketching a nude female model – quickly, we cut to a shot of a dead, handcuffed woman being dragged out of the river. Immediately we cut to a recreation center swimming pool, where a hotsy-totsy little number is doing some laps alone, at night. Before you can say Cat People, the lights go out and the guy gets a bit freaked, which elevates to legitimate panic when a gloved hand yanks him underwater and handcuffs his ankle to the bottom rung of the ladder.

Here’s a tip, folks: if you want to freak out the Buzz man, torture someone in a swimming pool – had these scene been directed for maximum impact, I likely would have passed out at the sight of this ripping young man desperately trying to free his ankle from the cuff and reach the surface before drowning. Isn’t that just sick? I actually remember an episode of the completely forgotten mid-eighties television series Masquerade where a similar thing happens to someone in a crowded country club pool and it scarred my fragile little mind.

Anyway, we cut from there to a Con Edison worker (this is a hot early-80s New York City, by the way) who is unceremoniously handcuffed to a metal ladder guard and electrocuted with a jumper cable. Just as weird, but not quite as scary for me, as I’m don’t work for a power utility. So apparently, someone is an ace with a pair of bracelets and has some sort of axe to grind. Good enough. But this is when things go horribly wrong: we suddenly find ourselves in a comedy club (?!) where a truly lame comic is doing some wretched impersonations of other truly lame comics. Okay, ha ha – I could tolerate this kind of shit in Fame, and I guess I can put up with a minute or two of it here. But hold on – this guy is actually a main character? Hold it – he’s the LEAD?! Oh dear God just kill me now.

Yes, detective Weeks is an aspiring comic, as ridiculous and horrifying as that may be to us in the audience as it dawns on us that we’re going to have to sit through his wretchedly unfunny Borscht Belt shtick for the entire film. Anyway, soon enough, a hottie arrives, which is a welcome distraction: it’s Perry King (Mandingo, Riptide) as Paul McCormack, a sleazy television tabloid journalist who has a confusingly popular call-in show. Paul’s out for “the scoop” and Weeks isn’t biting, then changes his mind, for some reason – probably because he’s afraid that King will chop him in half with his chiseled jawline if he refuses to cooperate.

Then there’s awfully-named (and ever more awfully-cast) Virna, the clairvoyant art student who somehow draws the victims before they’ve been killed. Virna is that girl that you talked to in high school because you felt sorry for her and kept telling yourself, “well, if she just lost the bowlcut and peasant dress she’d be kinda pretty and people wouldn’t hate her so much”. Well, in this situation men start falling over her even thought she hasn’t lost the wretched hairdo and the frumpy, hideous clothes, which is just ridiculous. Soon enough, word of Virna’s connection to the crime gets out, and she becomes the next target for the killer.

Well, not really – there’s also a bizarre subplot going on that involves a tough youth (Antone Pagan, best known as the toe-fucker from New York Ripper) and a creepy-looking man with lots of money – the creepy guy pays the kid and gives him a giant red herring – I mean, pair of handcuffs – in a men’s room, which insures that both of them will be have little to do with the plot and be dead before you know it. Which they are – the creepy businessman gets squished by an elevator (he’s handcuffed underneath it) and the kid gets blown away by Larry, Curly, and Moe, the three cops that are in charge of the case (the scene where they are in their “street clothes” as they barge into the Hispanic tenement to find the kid is hilarious, as apparently all the costume department could come up with was three knit hats).

Meanwhile, Virna (which sounds dirtier and dirtier every time I write it) is dating both Mac (understandably) and Weeks (she is fucking insane), and even goes so far as to go to one of Weeks’s standup shows at a comedy club. In what is easily the most intolerable scene in the film, Elizabeth Kemp tries to look even vaguely interested in a smoky, cramped dive club filled with impossibly perky waitresses and teased bangs. On stage “performing” is the spectacularly unfunny Dennis Wolfberg, whom you may remember polluting the airwaves in the early 80’s with his manic brand of frizzy-haired “comedy”. It’s just ungodly. Note how the fugly couple in front of her is given completely unnecessary close-ups during the comedy routine – it boggles the mind.

Anyway, Virna leaves the club because of a phonecall that says her nurse roommate Muriel (Barbara Quinn, also seen in Blue Sunshine, Squirm, and Jaws 3) is in danger, and proceeds to repeatedly almost get run over by someone in a black car. It’s really all quite hilarious. She’s whisked off to the hospital and the drama continues. She continues to waffle between her suitors (which, again, is utterly preposterous considering one is a slightly younger Sid Caesar and the other could crack walnuts between his asscheeks), and even goes so far as to appear on Mac’s call-in show to demonstrate her “automatic drawing” talent, which culminates in the highlight of the film: the shot of Virna drawing in a trance on television as Weeks watches in his apartment is one of the most unintentionally hilarious things I’ve ever seen. She looks like Sue Harrington from How’s Your News? scribbling manically on a drawing pad on local television. I seriously laughed so hard I almost peed myself.

After that things go downhill. Muriel is whacked by the killer, for some reason – she is handcuffed to the wheel of a car and sent careening out of a loading dock on the west side and into the Hudson river. Virna turns to Mac for assistance, and he hangs out at her house as Weeks and the other cops piece together the connections among the dead men and first victim, who is a porn actress from Canada (aren’t they all…). By the way – I’m about to give away the killer, so stop reading if you don’t want to know. Anyway, it comes to light that all of the men had picked up this girl (who was working as a hooker) and had a gang-bang with her (which she was totally up for, initially), which is honestly kind of hot, if you ask me. The idea of 4 straight guys having sex with the same girl is so bordering on queer that it hurts – and if Perry King was in the mix then I could easily ignore the uglier ones. Oh, did I mention that Perry King was there? Yeah. He’s the killer.

Anyway, they handcuffed the girl (again, totally consensual) and had a little fun. But apparently things got a bit rough with the poor girl, and Mac ended up raping her (SO not cool) and suffocating her with a pillow, which is waaay outside of standard business practice in this kind of situation. So Mac disposed of the body and then set about killing the other guys to cover it up. When he couldn’t get to the third guy (creepy businessman), creepy hired the thug guy to kill Mac and make it look like the work of the handcuff killer, which of course backfired. Perry chases Virna onto the roof and almost kills her (because she’s figured all this out by now), but Weeks saves the day, leading to Mac’s death and easily the worst ending line I’ve ever heard in any movie ever, in my entire life, full stop.

So basically we’ve got an Eyes of Laura Mars ripoff, only without the only elements that make Laura Mars the masterwork that it is (Faye Dunaway, lesbian models, hot photoshoots, “Let’s All Chant”, and – most importantly – “DONAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALD!!!!”). Why anyone would think that copping only the most boring elements of the movie would be a good idea is beyond me. But still, there’s some hilarious shit in here, and Perry King is exceedingly easy on the eyes, whether he be kayaking down the river at dawn (the first time we see it, the swelling music and rhapsodic tracking shot are BEGGING for him to break into song – see if I’m not right), lounging in bed (his back is positively rippling – you could play Plinko off it) or hamming it up as the faux-anchorman-in-peril on his retarded show, whose bowtie title graphics are the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen. Focus on the Perry, and everything else will just fade away – trust me. In all, you could certainly do worse, but keep your expectations low.

Rating (out of 5):