The Visitor. Film Review

Director: Giulio Paradisi
Screenplay: Luciano Comici & Robert Mundi
Starring: John Huston, Joanne Nail, Lance Henriksen, Mel Ferrer, Glenn Ford, Shelley Winters
Running Time: 108mins
Format: Blu-ray/DVD Dual Format
Certificate: 15
Reviewed by Guy Adams

Well, I’m a little worried. According to both critics and crew, THE VISITOR makes no sense whatsoever and is all but impossible to follow. My concern, and anyone familiar with my work may see this coming, is that I followed it just fine. Yes, it’s exactly the sort of thing that happens when you give a slightly off-the-wall idea to a crazed Italian with a camera, a concentration on style and mood rather than precise logic, but that’s not always a bad thing. Horror and sci-fi thrive off mood, it’s in the atmosphere that the magic thrives more often than the mechanics of story.

Designed to cash in on the success of THE EXORCIST, THE VISITOR adds a sci-fi twist by suggesting that an evil force has left its DNA in newborns around the galaxy. These children will grow up to possess special powers, powers that will be used for evil unless John Huston can find them and drag them back to his dimension where they can hang out with Franco Nero (playing, according to the credits, Jesus Christ). Unfortunately, other forces wish to use the powerful children to further their own ends. See? Hardly rocket science. That basic set-up allows us to sit and enjoy 108 mins of beautiful visuals, baffling music and old acting stalwarts messing around with killer birds.

It’s gloriously fun stuff and well worth a second chance at life after having bombed on release.

The restoration is a little dirtier than we’re used to from an Arrow release (nothing horrendous but the opening in particular contains a fair few blobs and scratches). Overall though it looks great and allows Paradisi’s visuals to pop.

There are three interviews include as special features: Lance Henriksen explaining how baffled and embarrassed by the movie he is (in his usual, terribly affable manner); screenwriter Luciano Comici telling the story of how his script developed to the stage when the director could — quite literally — throw it out of a window and cinematographer Ennio Guarnieri, slightly letting the side down by simply talking plainly about how nice everything was.

A true cult release that deserves its bad reputation to be exorcised.