The Visitor

My oldest pen pal from this site wrote to inform me of this, saying it would be right up my alley—and oh, how it was. This is what’s been missing from my life, these kind of enchanting, “What am I watching?” completely inexplicable relics from when life was simpler [i.e. the 70s/80s] and movies could be spectacularly bizarre, instead of just mundane and focus-grouped to death.

We open with John Huston wandering through a wasteland with milk-in-water clouds [got to love that] meeting a young girl. Then we join Franco Nero in a blond wig as Jesus [yes, Jesus] lecturing a bunch of bald kids. It would seem that they are expecting some sort of alien mu-TANT to come to Earth as a sort of Omen-esque personification of evil, and this time she’s going to arrive in the form of 8-year old Katie Carlson. Then we have the first of this movie’s amazing music cues, in which the slick funk/disco starts blaring while NOTHING is happening. There’s more music cues, and trust me, they’re a delight every time.

So the writer/director of this was an actor [he was in 8 1/2!] who also wrote and directed a few things, and his style bridges the slight gap between Giallo and De Palma. Giallo because it’s insane and overheated and over-the-top, De Palma because it contains some delightful setpieces that stop the whole movie in a very overdramatic, but super-fun way. The first of these comes as Katie attends a basketball game [in her fabulous glasses, see photo] and, as we know she’s going to cause some evil at the game [because she is just plain evil for the fun of it] the game slows to ultra-slow motion, the crowd is cheering in slow motion, and it’s all building up toward some horrifying result. But when the payoff comes, it’s not at all what you expected.

Anyway, I will only be able to scrape the surface of all that is going on here, but that’s okay, because you’ll need that time to go get this movie immediately. Katie’s unsuspecting mom, unaware that her sweet little pumpkin is actually the antichrist [or an alien? Or an alien antichrist?] is quite confused about all the bad accidents happening around her, and ends up being the hapless victim of so many of her little hell-child’s machinations that it becomes quite, quite hilarious. First there’s the surprise in the birthday present [good enough that it should be in a more “serious” Omen movie] and leading right up to the old smash-the-wheelchair-bound-woman-into-the-huge-fishtank trick. Meanwhile, poor, paralyzed-from-the-waist-down mom does NOT let her disability take away from her commitment to hair styling [and this movie hails from the zenith of feathered hair], or her mobility: she’s all over the place, and even driving a car, paralyzed legs be damned.

Now, I haven’t even mentioned Shelly Winters. I’m sure the presence of Lance Heinrikson goes without saying. Film director Sam Peckinpah plays a small role, and there’s this other guy that had me like: “Ian Holm? Robert Forster?” But no, it is… hold on…. It is Glenn Ford. Gee, and they say there’s no good roles for women after 40… obviously these esteemed actors suffer, too!

Anyway, more delightful setpieces [daughter doing gymnastics intercut with Mom undergoing an operation was an interesting one], more amazing music cues [at 19:27 and the mother of them all, at 48:23]. The old problem of the falcon in the car causing a spectacular freeway-to-baseball-field crash. Ye olde ice skating sequence in which boys are rammed into walls and through windows through the assistance of psychic powers. I have written down “amazing truck sequence,” which now makes me wish I remembered even one thing about it. And there’s mom wheeling in circles for a good long time after a visit from Huston, who drops in to tell her that the child in her womb must die.

Oh, and there’s also serious perversity, such as when elderly John Huston shows up as the 8-year-old girl’s replacement babysitter, and no one bats an eye, or when the 8yo girl follows him into an adult bookstore. It all builds up to a climax that you will NOT see coming. I guarantee you, of all the climaxes you could think of, you will NOT think of this one.

This is what you need in your life. If you haven’t watched an amazing bad movie in a while, or you just need to watch them all, you must, must watch this one. This hits the sweet spot.


4 thoughts on “The Visitor

    • DID I say Shelled Winters? You had me wondering, because I can be bad with the typos. But I DID say Shelley Winters, and this movie IS amazing. I DID see Switchblade Sisters, also amazing, but I don’t think I ever wrote a review of it.


  1. Wait a minute….Joanne Nail is in this??? That brings us to an interesting question: have you ever seen SWITCHBLADE SISTERS??? Now THAT’S a good movie. Rent that as soon as possible!


  2. So happy to see this review! I bought the Blu-Ray of this movie just based on its trailer (and that music – as if the theme from Shaft and Thus Spake Zarathustra had a baby). The movie does not disappoint. Twenty pounds of crazy in a ten-pound bag.


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