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The Killing Hour

3.8 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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(Mar 21, 2000)
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Editorial Reviews


Poised somewhere between a serial-killer horror film and an old-fashioned murder mystery, Armand Mastroianni's smartly plotted The Killing Hour doesn't quite reach its potential but offers an entertaining ride to the climax. A handcuff killer is running around New York and the NYPD's best hope lies in a psychic artist who sketches death scenes from the eyes of the killer. Norman Parker is a genial New York cop and part-time standup comic who falls in love with artist Elizabeth Kemp, while muckraking talk-show host Perry King exploits her for ratings at the expense of her safety: the killer is out there and he's still hunting. The opening murder scenes are vivid and accomplished, economically realized with style and suggestion, and similar scenes sprinkled throughout punctuate an otherwise flatly directed drama. The film is invigorated by NYC location shooting, an inventive screenplay, quirky, character-rich performances by the always reliable Joe Morton, Jon Polito, and Kenneth McMillan in small roles, and an engaging, understated lead by Parker.

The DVD also features entertaining audio commentary by Mastroianni and fellow director William Lustig--who reminisce about the old days as exploitation auteurs making pictures on the streets of New York--as well as deleted scenes that illuminate the hard choices directors make, sacrificing detail for pace and rhythm. The picture's title is explained in those cut moments. --Sean Axmaker


3 1/2 Stars "...the viewer is instantly gripped by this tense and enthralling film... leading up to the chilling climax with its ultimate twist" -- International Guide to Films

5.0 (out of 5) "A STYLISH SUSPENSE FLICK!" -- DVD Authority

Special Features

  • Never-Before-Seen Uncensored Director's Cut
  • Deleted Scenes
  • 4.5" x 7" Original Theatrical Poster Replica

Product Details

  • Actors: Perry King, Norman Parker, Elizabeth Kemp, Kenneth McMillan, Jon Polito
  • Directors: Armand Mastroianni
  • Writers: Armand Mastroianni, B. Jonathan Ringkamp
  • Producers: Edgar Lansbury, Joseph Beruh, Nan Pearlman, Robert Di Milia
  • Format: AC-3, Anamorphic, Color, Dolby, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
  • DVD Release Date: March 21, 2000
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305797110
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #150,341 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Killing Hour" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
THE KILLING HOUR (originally titled THE CLAIRVOYANT) is a vivid, well-crafted adult thriller in the tradition of Brian DePalma and the gialli of Mario Bava and Dario Argento. It is also an oasis from the teen-slasher craze at the time. A body is discovered floating in the Hudson River with handcuffs. Soon two more murders involving handcuffs ensue and the police, including detective/comedian Larry Weeks (Norman Parker, who is incredible), is on the case. But so is talk-show host Paul "Mac" McCormick (soap star Perry King), who does exactly what the police didn't want to happen: turn the killings into a media spectacle. And soon a young art student named Virna Nightbourne (Elizabeth Kemp), who can mysteriously sketch each murder as they happen, becomes involved.

This film is kind of like EYES OF LAURA MARS as it would have been directed by Bava or Argento. But I will say that director Armand Mastroianni (HE KNOWS YOU'RE ALONE, which featured Kemp) can accomplish so much while showing so little in terms of the murder sequences! In fact, the pool murder, cast in an ominous red glow, looks like something Argento or Bava would have come up with. Also, the music score (by Alexander Peskanov, who scored ALONE with his brother Mark) resembles something Pino Donnagio would have composed for DePalma. And after all, why go for graphic violence when you have such fine performances, especially from character actors Kenneth McMillan and Joe Morton? This thriller is definetly worth your time!

In terms of extras, there's a fun and insightful commentary by Mastroianni and then Anchor Bay head Bill Lustig, who talk about how the film came to be (William Friedkin was involved) among other things. We also get five deleted scenes (obviously cut to speed up the movie), one of which ended up in the trailer. Best of all, it's an unrated director's cut! Don't miss it!
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Format: DVD
The Killing Hour is one of those movies that's full of potential, but never quite reaches it. The one thing you should know rather quickly is the killer is a character already in the movie and not someone who pops up at the end. You should figure out quickly who it actually is, but there a few scenes that might make you 2nd guess that. But it's not really a surprise, on who the killer is, but their motive is the twist that while is fairly interesting, one would think the police would figure it out. It's one of those twists you have to watch what you say or the whole movie will be spoiled and while again the twist is fairly good, but not sure how the cops wouldn't figure it out.

The screenplay by Jonathon Ringkamp was the biggest problem with the movie, while not poorly written it's just that the characters lack any depth and really aren't all that interesting. The concept was quite interesting, but the screenplay is the downfall here. Again it's not poorly written, but the characters just aren't interesting, which wouldn't be so bad had the movie focus on the murders. Since its more character driven well you need solid characters something this doesn't have.

Director Armand Mastroianni made his directorial debut with the slasher flick He Knows You're Alone, which was actually the very first film Tom Hanks appeared in; Mastroianni really isn't a bad director, while he's not great or anything he can deliver a well-made movie on a limited budget and while I'm no expert on his career he's done some enjoyable movies. He Knows You're Alone was a solid if not clichéd slasher flick that was actually shot in Staten Island, Ny where I live and I've actually hung around in the areas it was shot so maybe I'm a bit biased.
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22 Comments 4 of 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
Once called "The Clairvoyant", The Killing Hour is a suspense/thriller/murder mystery rolled into one. Personally, I prefer the original title, since it better captures a key element of the story. Our protagonist (played by Elizabeth Kemp) has two unique gifts. She is an artist and has a sixth sense. But she doesn't see dead people, instead she can foresee who will be the next victim in a series of seemingly unrelated murders. Unrelated that is, except for the handcuffs found on each victim. Her clairvoyance strikes her when she is drawing and usually, she draws the next victim. She begins to panic, when during one of her episodes, she draws herself.
When she finally goes to the police, she manages to convince the skeptical officers assigned to the murders that their may be some validity to her story. More willing to believe her, a TV talk show host/reporter (played by Perry King) tries to befriend her and interview her on his show.
Slowly, the killer moves in on her. The clairvoyant knows he (or she) is near, but her power doesn't reveal the face to her. Nor does the director give this one away. We have to wait until he is ready to reveal the killer, but once he does, it all makes perfect sense.
Overall, I found this movie to be a pleasant surprise. Suspenseful, cleverly written, well acted, it will keep you guessing until the end, when the killer finally and unexpectedly, is revealed.
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Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Its the kind of movie you rout for, but always lets up short...good characters, well written, and it keeps you guessing...yet we continually run into unlikable behaviour and odd pacing.
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