Italian exploitation and horror is known for a lot of things: strong atmosphere, striking visuals, nauseating gore, excellent music, exquisite cinematography-you know, the good stuff. Oh, and ripping off whatever was really big at the time. Two names come to mind in these cycles-one is Bruno Mattei, and the other is Ovidio G. Assonitis. Sure, he did produce the giallo classic "Who Saw Her Die?", but he's mostly known for producing, writing and directing films that ripped off "The Exorcist" ("Beyond the Door")." "Jaws" ("Tentacles", "Piranha II: The Spawning"), "Conan the Barbarian" ("Iron Warrior"), and other titles that were popular at the time. Well, in 1979, he put a whole lot of eggs in a basket to give the world "The Visitor", and the result is one of the most certifiably insane genre pictures I've ever seen.
The plot deals with an alien being (John Huston-yes, that John Huston), who must save an eight year old girl Katy Collins (Paige Conner), who has evil powers. Her mother Barbara (Joanna Nail) is dating basketball player Raymond Armstead (Lance Henriksen, proving he had been in bad movies for years), and wants to marry her. Also, evil businessman Dr. Walker (Mel Ferrer) has a specific interest in Katy, and wants Babara to produce another child, which Babs has no desire to do. Well, she ends up getting pregnant anyway, and Jerzy Colsowicz (the name the alien ends up taking) lets her know that the kid can't be born. Plus, he now finds himself fighting Katy and her falcon for the fate of the universe, and Django himself, Franco Nero shows up as Jesus Christ, though the wig he's wearing makes him look like a member of a Glam Rock band than the Lord. Also, why Christ is visiting aliens is beyond me, but then again, Jesus does love everyone.
I swear to God, I did not make any of this up. This all happens in the movie.
Directed by Giulio Paradisi (who served as a second unit director for Fellini's "8½"), "The Visitor" is completely out of it's gourd. Let's say somebody spent a few days watching an old Biblical Epic, "The Omen", "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", "Rosemary's Baby", "The Fury", "The Birds", "Star Wars", "Saturday Night Fever" and "The Exorcist." After this movie binge, they thought "You know what would be awesome? If someone combined all of those movies!" This movie is the end result.
To be fair, the acting, cinematography and direction are all mostly good, but the movie in itself is a train wreck that you find yourself recommending to others even though it's bad. Even by the standards of Italian genre fare the plot makes no sense, it contains a largely inappropriate score, and is so unapologetic about the movies it's stealing from. Then there's the other appearances, with Sam Peckinpah, Glenn Ford and Shelly Winters all showing up, seeming to be confused as to why they are in this movie.
At the same time, there's nothing at all to hate about the movie. I mean, it's a bad movie, but it's also the kind of once in a lifetime viewing experience that anyone who says they love horror should see. There really is nothing else quite like this movie, and to pardon the cliche, it must be seen to be believed, even though you won't be able to make sense of anything that's happening onscreen.
Rating: I Don't Know