the small but potent category of crazy-assed OMEN wannabes (see
and FEAR NO EVIL), the Italian-made THE VISITOR is a definite stand-out.
It’s trashy, pretentious and often downright jaw-dropping in its sheer
wrong-headedness--in short, a definite guilty pleasure of obvious
interest to bad movie mavens.
How producer Ovidio Assonitis managed to attain the
star power assembled here I’ll never fathom. Among the slumming icons
who appear in this Italian production are John Huston, Mel Ferrer, Glenn
Peckinpah and Shelley Winters. I hope they were well paid.
THE VISITOR, from 1977, was originally titled STRIDULUM
(and recently released on DVD in Italy under that title). Like many
Italian productions of the time (when for a film to be greenlit its
makers had to satisfactorily answer the all-important question “What’s
this like?”), it was clearly intended as a direct cash-in on a
successful American film, in this case THE OMEN. The results, however,
are unique. Not good, but unique. It’s probably best summed up by
an Los Angeles video store whose owners place it in their own aptly
named category “Holy Fucking Shit!”
The Visitor is an otherworldly old man sent to Earth in
the company of several bald weirdoes who congregate atop a big city high
rise. The Visitor is seeking to positively influence a seemingly normal
child named Katy, who is actually a telepathic alien with evil intent.
She proves this by making strange things occur, such as a handgun that
“accidentally” discharges into her mother’s back, paralyzing the woman.
Katie also telepathically causes the death of a pesky police lieutenant
who’s been investigating the shooting, and also those of some mean boys
who harass her at an ice skating rink.
Katie’s mother is pregnant. The problem is the woman
doesn’t know how she was impregnated and wants the baby aborted. In
truth, the unborn child was implanted by Katie’s alien chums during an
Earthly sojourn, and the child is intended to eventually mate with
Katie. But the Visitor is determined to keep this from happening. Will
This isn’t a completely terrible movie. It actually has
some good things, including artfully desaturated photography and an
overall air of ominous mystery. The director Giulio Paradisi (credited
as “Michael Paradise”) isn’t untalented, even if his film is a joke
overall. The reasons?
For starters there’s the totally overwrought and
inappropriate funkadelic score by Franco Micalizzi, which accomplishes
nothing short of turning the proceedings into an unintentional comedy.
Ditto the special effects, which are of the grade-Z variety, and the
acting by the all-star cast, which isn’t much. There are moments of
GOD TOLD ME TO-like
craziness, such as a memorable freeway mash-up and the totally nutzoid
climax (featuring a flock of doves and a cameo by none other than Jesus
Christ!), which are ultimately what resonates most about this ridiculous
Film Ventures International/American International Pictures
Director: Giulio Paradisi
Producer: Ovidio G. Assonitis
Screenplay: Luciano Comici, Robert Mundi
Cinematography: Ennio Guarnieri
Editing: Roberto Curi
Cast: Mel Ferrer, Glenn Ford, Lance Henriksen, John Huston, Joanne Nail,
Sam Peckinpah, Shelley Winters, Paige Conner, Ja Townsend, Jack Dorsey