Italy has produced some great film directors and cinema. Fellini, Argento, Leone, Antonioni and Zefferelli were all considered masters of their oeuvres. There was a lot of Italian money floating around horror and science fiction films during the ’70s and ’80s, and let’s just say the quality control wasn’t always what it should have been. Joint ventures with the US tended to end up with confusion, chaos on vaguely comprehensible rip-offs. Producer Ovidio G. Assonitis is renowned for his knock-offs and The Visitor manages to steal brazenly from several other films whilst being completely baffling.
I’ll try my best with the plot. Katy Collins (Paige Conner) is an eight year old girl who just happens to carry the powers of Sateen (an inter-spacial force of immense magnitude apparently). Jerzy Colsowicz (John Huston) comes to earth representing the forces of good (he works with Jesus Christ-who for the record does very little). He is the (drumroll) Visitor. Katy attempts to continue evil’s nefarious plans by persuading her mother (Joanne Nail) to have a male child who she’ll eventually mate with to pass on her powers, whilst Jerzy seemingly bides his time. Barbara, her mother, is having none of it though.
It may seem fairly straightforward, but believe me it’s not. The devil appears in the guise of a nasty looking (pet) bird, there’s lots of odd psychedelic visuals and an opening sequence which is totally baffling. There’s appearances from Lance Henricksen, Mel Ferrer, Glenn Ford, Sam Peckinpah and Shelley Winters (but sadly not the elephant the director had his heart set on) who all add to the bizarreness of the film. It steals blatantly from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Birds, Star Wars and many other films.
Panned by critics on its release, this new restored high definition version really does bring the insanity to life. There’s some great camerawork and imaginative visuals. Given the perplexing nature of its plot, the unfathomable dialogue and general absurdity, it’s actually pretty damn entertaining.
· High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of the feature, transferred from original film elements
· Original Mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
· Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
· Interview with Star Lance Henriksen
· Interview with Screenwriter Lou Comici
· Interview with Cinematographer Ennio Guarnieri
· Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Erik Buckman
· Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film
The Visitor is released on Blu-ray and DVD by Arrow Video and is available now.