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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 01.28.14] scifi horror

There's weird and then there's The Visitor (Stridulum).

A product of the late 70s when numerous European producers made their way to the US to create cheap entertainment for the drive-in masses, director Giulio Paradisi didn't even put his name on the insanity that is The Visitor, choosing instead to be credited Michael J. Paradise, a name only slightly as ludicrous as the movie itself. The thing is that on paper, The Visitor sounds like the most amazing movie ever: it's not only a universe spanning tale of good and evil, it brings together an all star cast including John Huston and including Glenn Ford, Shelley Winters, Lance Henriksen, Franco Nero, Mel Ferrer, and Sam Peckinpah.

Huston stars as Jerzy (the titular visitor), an alien elder who travels to Earth to retrieve Katy, an eight year old girl who happens to be the direct descendant of an evil race that long ago landed on earth. Aside from having telekinesis which she uses for her own nefarious plots, Katy is also pressuring her mother Barbara to have another child; a pursuit which is also being followed by Raymond (Lance Henriksen), Barbara's boyfriend. Raymond is the pawn of a secret society who know of the ancient power and want to harness it for their own advancement. It's the kind of crazy sci-fi with religious overtones you might expect from Hubbard and might even make a good partner to Battlefield Earth though I don't remember enough of that mess to recommend a rewatch.

The Visitor unabashedly borrows heavily from a number of other movies of the period and though somewhere, in someone's mind, the sum of the parts may have made sense, the result is a big mess of story ideas and scenes that often don't work or even make sense. The thing is, The Visitor is rather well made and hugely enjoyable if only for the constant jaw dropping WTF moments. There are scenes and sequences in The Visitor which genuinely impress, particularly those that take place in Barbara and Katy's opulent home and which mostly play out like sequences from a serious, well crafted thriller; overall, the cinematography is fantastic and completely at odds with the zaniness of the movie.

The real joy of The Visitor is just how crazy it is. Part horror movie, part sci-fi extravaganza (complete with abduction and impregnation) and part religious war for the salvation of the universe, it's all of these things and none of them at the same time. What we end up with is a jumble of half cooked ideas, a talented group of crew and actors who have made a movie that, on the surface at least, looks like something worth seeing but is only watchable if you go in expecting insanity. Leave your brain at the door or you might find yourself wondering out loud how a woman who is paralyzed from the waist down is able to drive never mind get out of her car and into the wheelchair, located in her trunk no less!, without assistance.

Last year, Drafthouse Films rescued and gave Miami Connection (review) to the fans of the nutty and this year they're doing the same service to The Visitor. Some might argue that this cult classic might be better off remaining lost but truth is, it's far too entertaining not to be seen. This newly restored, uncut edition is a thing to behold.

And before you ask, the spectacular but completely inappropriate theme music can be found here. You're welcome.

The Visitor plays in Vancouver at the Pacific Cinematheque until the end of the month and continues limited engagements across the US until June.

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jesusolmo (8 years ago) Reply



Fendell (8 years ago) Reply

Code Red released THE VISITOR on DVD
a few years ago, so Alamo Drafthouse didn't rescue anything in relation to this film.


Wumpus (4 years ago) Reply

This just showed up on tubitv.

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