Octoblur 2015 - #12: The Visitor (1979)

The Visitor (1979)

Directed by Giulio Paradisi
Written by dorrk
11 October 2015

The Visitor (1979): Reviewed

Like the fun The Miami Connection and the amazing Roar, The Visitor is another intriguing oddity that's been rescued from obscurity and restored by Drafthouse Films, and is now aggressively staking its claim in the "worst movie ever made" sweepstakes. Like an artwork created in different medium and then run through a shoddy automated translation script, The Visitor takes elements from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Omen, The Exorcist and The Birds, but with no effort to make these disparate influences work together.

John Huston stars as some kind of space angel (named "Yaweh") who is sent to Earth by a space Jesus (Franco Nero) to neutralize an 8-year-old girl who is the half-spawn of the evil escaped prisoner "Sateen" (are you getting the religious connotations here?). This girl, Katy (Paige Connor, who looks suspiciously like Linda Blair), is a pretty intense brat, especially when her eyes turn silver and she taps into her telekinetic powers to do things like make basketball hoops explode, or make birds attack cops, or annoy boys at the ice skating rink.

Even though the plot is laid out by space Jesus in the opening 10 minutes, The Visitor is astonishingly incoherent for the remainder, as none of the characters' words or actions seem to align with their intended purposes. Huston casually lurks around as Katy wreaks all kinds of havoc and rarely seems bothered by it. Katy seems evil, but she has no compelling objective beyond emotionally exhausting (and kind of shooting) her resilient mother (Joanne Nail). Lance Henriksen is appointed by an unexplained cabal of businessmen to do something with Katy and her mother, and fails at it, but what it is and how he doesn't do it is never clear. Glenn Ford investigates nothing by peeking through windows. Sam Peckinpah makes weird hand gestures. Mel Ferrer is there for some reason. Who? What? When? Where? Why? The Visitor is not concerned with such mundane questions. Shelley Winters, as a sassy maid, at least slaps the shit out of Katy, offering the audience a rare relatable moment.

The Visitor looks pretty great at times, with some neat visual concepts — the opening sequence is stunning despite the lousy effects — but unlike director of photography Ennio Guarnieri, director Giulio Paradisi (credited as Michael J. Paradise) and his team of shocking screenwriters (Luciano Comici, Robert Mundi and Ovidio G. Assonitis) show a complete lack of aptitude their jobs. As horror movie, The Visitor is pretty disappointing with only a couple of genre-worthy scenes; but as a normal movie, it's a complete wreck — with a gonzo ending featuring the single worst "bird" effect in cinema history — and that counts for something.

Trailer for the Visitor (1979)

The Visitor (1979) movie stills gallery