DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

THE VISITOR (STRIDULUM) (director: Michael J. Paradise; screenwriters: Lou Comici/Robert Mundy/story by Michael J. Paradise and Ovidio Assonitis; cinematographer: Ennio Guarnieri; editor: Robert Curi; music: Franco Micalizzi; cast: John Huston (Jerzy Colsowicz), Paige Connor (Katy Collins), Mel Ferrer (Dr. Walker), Glenn Ford (Det. Jake Durham ), Joanne Nail (Barbara Collins), Franco Nero (Jesus Christ), Sam Peckinpah (Dr. Sam Collins), Lance Henriksen (Raymond Armstead), Shelley Winters (Jane Phillips); Runtime: 108; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Ovidio Assonitis; Drafthouse Films; 1979)

"Never makes much sense even when it at times seems to make some sense."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

In this unique Italian horror film, shot in Atlanta, Georgia, a cult favorite that was supposedly influenced by video games, visiting aliens, best represented by the courtly Jersey Colsowicz (John Huston), from an unnamed world, come to Earth to bring back one of their own, an 8-year-old Devil-child, Katy Collins (Paige Connor), who is the evil mutant alien impregnated into the unaware Barbara Collins (Joanne Nail). Once the Visitors get Katy, they plan to remove from her through their teaching methods the evil urgings that make her a menace to both the human and alien societies.

Italian TV nature director Michael J. Paradise ("Spaghetti House"), whose Italian name is Giulio Paradisi, wrestles with an unwieldy horror film, that freely borrows from such classics as Rosemary's Baby, The Birds, The Omen, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind and, if you can believe, Orson Welles' The Lady From Shanghai. Its plot is too incoherent to undergo scrutiny as a more serious undertaking other than spoofing the other horror pics. The story, co-written by Paradise and Ovidio Assonitis, and scripted by Lou Comici and Robert Mundy, never makes much sense even when it at times seems to make some sense. Yet, strangely enough, it held my interest as an occult film that revels in its bad taste.

The unusual cast has its hands full with this exploitation film, a drive-in film that is missing logic and goes with a puzzling story that can never get cleared up. The film takes us to strange places, seemingly arbitrarily tossed into the film, with hallucinatory images to domestic scenes with Shelley Winters playing a nanny recruited by the Visitors to protect the evil child and innocent paralyzed mother. Sam Peckinpah shows up in one scene as the ex-husband doctor of Barbara, who is asked to perform an abortion when she is mysteriously impregnated with another Devil-child on the highway when her car breaks down. Franco Nero for some reason appears briefly as Jesus Christ. Glenn Ford plays a detective investigating who gave Katy a loaded gun for a birthday present, that resulted in her clumsily shooting mom in the spine, and the detective departs when attacked by birds who gouge out his eyes. Lance Henriksen is Barbara's boyfriend, a big shaker executive and owner of the Atlanta Hawks, with ties to the creepy Dr. Walker (Mel Ferrer) and his part (for some unmentioned reason) of introducing evil alien mutants into the world.

There's no story to fall back on, but there are plenty of nightmarish and surreal scenes to try and let you figure out what this mess is about. But since the writers and director are clueless, I wouldn't try too hard in figuring it out and just let it go as a pic that wants to be weird rather than understood. If you can live with that, you might enjoy it as a goofy B-film.

REVIEWED ON 7/13/2014       GRADE: B

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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