The Visitor (1979 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Giulio Paradisi
(as Michael J. Paradise)
|Produced by||Ovidio G. Assonitis|
|Music by||Franco Micalizzi|
|Edited by||Roberto Curi|
The Visitor is a 1979 Italian-American science fiction horror film directed by Giulio Paradisi (credited onscreen as Michael J. Paradise) and based on a story by the Egypt-born Italian writer (and producer) Ovidio G. Assonitis. The film stars include John Huston, Shelley Winters, Mel Ferrer, Glenn Ford and Sam Peckinpah with supporting appearances by Neal Boortz, Steve Somers, Paige Conner, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. It has garnered a cult following over the years. 
The film opens with vague impressions of nature and supernatural forces before centering on a Christ-like figure telling a story to a group of bald pupils, most of whom are children. He tells a story about cosmic forces in conflict. In particular, he warns about the threat of Sateen, an evil inter-spatial force of immense magnitude. The film cuts to The Omni in Atlanta, Georgia where two fictional teams are playing a basketball game. The owner of the Atlanta team, Raymond Armstead (Lance Henriksen), sits courtside and promises an interviewer that the team will win at all costs. Since Raymond is a new owner and the source of his wealth is unknown, the interviewer presses him on the source of his wealth. He eventually answers that the money comes "from God".
Raymond is later seen visiting a mansion where a group of men sit at a conference table. At the head of the table, Dr. Walker (Mel Ferrer), tells Raymond that the group has invested a lot of money in Raymond. He reminds Raymond that his girlfriend, Barbara Collins (Joanne Nail), is unique among women because her womb possesses the power to transmit Sateen's cosmic force into human form. Her 8-year-old daughter Katy (Paige Connor) has already demonstrated telekinetic powers, and the committee's goal is to have Raymond father a male child with Barbara. The male child would eventually mate with his half-sister Katy and help establish the reign of Sateen.
Katy is only partially aware of her powers, and she experiments with them throughout the film, most notably helping Raymond's basketball team to victory. A Visitor, Jerzy Colsowicz (John Huston), is sent to Earth by the Christ-like figure, and he starts to hover around Katy. He possesses the same powers and knows that they are meant to be used for the good of mankind. He occasionally visits a rooftop in downtown Atlanta, where other bald disciples of the Christ-like figure gather in support of his mission. He's also acquainted with Barbara's new maid, Jane Phillips (Shelley Winters), who instantly sees the evil in Katy (it's later heavily implied that Jane had a child like Katy).
A police detective, Jake Durham (Glenn Ford), investigates some of the strange and fatal occurrences that have involved Katy. For instance, Barbara ends up paralyzed by a bullet wound, and spends the rest of the movie in a wheelchair. During his investigation, unseen forces cause him to die in a car accident.
Raymond fails to seduce Barbara, and the committee decide to proceed with other, more violent methods. Barbara does get pregnant after the intervention, but is still afraid of having another child and has her ex, Dr. Sam Collins (also Katy's father) (Sam Peckinpah), abort the baby. When she returns home, she is attacked for her actions by Raymond and Katy, who attempt to execute her by tying a wire around her neck and sending her down the stairs in her chair lift. Before they can succeed, the Visitor returns and summons an army of birds that thwart Katy and kill Raymond. The next day, all of the men that Raymond had conspired with are found dead at their round table, presumably by the Visitor's intervention.
In the final scene, the Visitor returns to the Christ-like figure and his bald apostles. He reveals that he has brought Katy with him. She is now bald and cleansed of her malice, and the film ends with her smiling and embracing the Visitor who insists that children are not to be harmed.
- Mel Ferrer as Dr. Walker
- Glenn Ford as Det. Jake Durham
- Lance Henriksen as Raymond Armstead
- John Huston as Jerzy Colsowicz
- Joanne Nail as Barbara Collins
- Paige Conner as Katy Collins
- Sam Peckinpah as Dr. Sam Collins
- Shelley Winters as Jane Phillips
- Franco Nero as Jesus Christ
- Neal Boortz as Businessman
- Steve Somers
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
The Visitor was released on DVD by independent distributor Code Red in November 2010. It was the first time the film had been presented in its uncut form in the United States.
In 2013, independent distributor Drafthouse Films acquired the film. Drafthouse Films announced they would re-release the film in remastered form on October 31, 2013 with a VOD/digital and home entertainment release in January 2014.
The Visitor is perhaps best summed up in David Ehrlich's review for Film.com as "a remake of The Bad Seed as filtered through the acid-tinged mind of Alejandro Jodorowsky." Many of the set pieces in the film bear striking resemblances to contemporary releases. When the Visitor returns to his cosmic home, there is an extended light sequence that is modeled on the end of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Katy's ominous powers are rendered in the style of The Omen, and the conflict over her nature, with good winning out over evil due to the help of an elderly man, led one critic to call the film an "Exorcist knock-off". That same review cited other obvious influences on the film like Carrie, The Birds, and The Lady from Shanghai. On Rotten Tomatoes, it received an aggregate score of 93% based on 14 reviews.
- Hayes, Kevin J. (2008). Sam Peckinpah: Interviews. Univ. Press of Mississippi. pp. xxxii–xxxiii. ISBN 978-1-934110-64-5.
- "THE VISITOR (X)". British Board of Film Classification. December 12, 1974. Retrieved May 24, 2015.
- "The Visitor". American Film Institute. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
- Amador, Maria Luisa; Blanco, Jorge Ayala (2006). Cartelera cinematografica, 1980-1989 (in Spanish). UNAM. pp. 53, note 432. ISBN 978-970-32-3605-3.
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- Husney, Evan (June 19, 2013). "Drafthouse Films Rediscovers The Sci-Fi/Horror Epic That 1979 Couldn't Handle". Drafthouse Films. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
- Collis, Clark (2013-10-09). "Drafthouse Films to rerelease whacked-out '70s horror film 'The Visitor' this Halloween -- EXCLUSIVE POSTER". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2013-10-15.
- Ehrlich, David (2013). "Review: The Visitor", Film.com.
- Scherstuhl, Alan (2013). "1979's Astounding Sci-Fi Horror Mess The Visitor Is in Theaters at Last", The Village Voice.
- Trunick, Alan (2013). "The Visitor", Under the Radar
- Axmaker, Sean (2013). "Videophiled Classic: ‘The Visitor’ Brings Satanic Incoherence with a Side of Bizarre", The Parallax View.