is a sinful city, where every damn street is called Peachtree. A cosmic warrior has come to straighten
things out here. He will do battle with
the pre-pubescent girl who has made the world such a crummy place in the ever-so
strange 1979 Italian-produced sci-fi knock-off, The Visitor (trailer
by Giulio Paradisi as Michael J. Paradise, which has been re-mastered and re-released
by Drafthouse Films.
a dimension “beyond imagination,” a mysterious old man seeks out the remnants
of the evil Sateen, a demonic entity he vanquished eons ago. Evidently, some of his old foe’s essence
ended up on earth, specifically within Barbara Collins’s ancestors. She is one of the rare carriers who can give birth
to his malevolent offspring.
Unfortunately, she already has one child, the dreadful little Katy. Her boyfriend Raymond Armstead is pressuring
her to get married and have more children, because he is part of an apocalyptic
secret society that frequently holds awkward board meetings devoted to
promoting evil. Collins resists,
ostensibly for the sake of her freedom.
However, she is also instinctively against anything Katy is for.
might think the bad guys would do anything to protect the birthing abilities of
the only woman who can deliver Sateen’s bad seeds. Well, obviously you are not part of an
international satanic cult. Poor Collins
is shot, partially paralyzed, run off the road, and attacked by a falcon. Yet, despite all the stress, her skin remains
remarkably clean and radiant. As
Armstead and Katy plot against her, the gaunt Jerzy Colsowicz arrives to do
battle with Sateen’s spawn. That’s right,
it’s a frail septuagenarian versus an eight year-old, so get ready to rumble.
goes without saying The Visitor is a
strange film. Everyone compares it to The Omen and Close Encounters, but Paradisi/Paradise probably rips-off The Birds more than anything else. For
whatever reason, bird attacks seem to be the weapon of choice for good guys and
bad guys alike. It is just plain baffling anyone thought this film could cash
in on the late 1970’s sci-fi craze, but it boasts a truly once-in-a-lifetime
cast, including John Huston (the John
Huston), Lance Henriksen, Glenn Ford, Franco Nero (uncredited as the
Christ-like figure), Shelley Winters, Switchblade
Sisters’ Joanne Nail, Mel Ferrer, Sam Peckinpah (the Sam Peckinpah), and future Libertarian radio talk show host
Neal Boortz. Get your head around that
Huston looks rather bemused in each of his scenes as Colsowicz and it is a good
bet he never saw bothered to watch the finished product. Ford and Winters soldier through like the old
pros they are, playing the cop and the nanny, respectively. Eventual fan favorite Henriksen also shows an
early affinity for scenery chewing as Armstead.
In truth, aside from maybe Huston and Nero, nobody really phoned The Visitor in, but it is anyone’s guess
what they thought they were doing in this convoluted, New Agey plot. There are times the film appears to be
conceived as a showcase for Atlanta’s modernist architecture, which makes as
much sense as any other explanation.
effects are crude and confusing, even by 1970’s standards, but in its straight-forward
dramatic scenes, the picture looks surprisingly slick. Naturally, even the music “borrows” from
another film, but it must be conceded Franco Micallizzi’s riff on Strauss’ “Zarathustra”
is oddly catchy, in a funky (arranger) David Matthews-Kudu Records kind of way.
If you don’t get The Visitor by now, you’re on your own. If you enjoy completely cracked cult cinema,
this is your catnip. Impressive in its
way, it demands to be seen
to be believed. Recommended for those
who can appreciate the sheer defiant spectacle of it all, The Visitor screens this weekend (11/8 & 11/9) at the IFC
Center in New York.
Labels: Franco Nero, John Huston, Lance Henriksen, Sci-Fi films