Thursday, November 17, 2011

CAPSULE REVIEW: The Visitor (1979)

What on earth were the filmmakers responsible for The Visitor thinking? Most of the time it seems like they were going for a straightforward telekinetic evil kid movie, and if it wasn’t for the intermittent exposition, you’d probably just fill in the gaps on your own and call it a day. Instead, thanks to the extended cut 35mm print unearthed by the guys at Cinema Overdrive, we get an opening scene where a soft-focus hippie space-alien Jesus tells a story about an evil being named “Sateen” to a bunch of bald kids… There’s a lot to like in the next hour and a half, including the surprisingly effective performance of the young Paige Conner, whose intermittent Southern drawl adds just enough creepiness to her lines at just the right time. You also get exploding basketballs, flocks of angry birds, Lance Henrickson (better known as Bishop from Aliens), a couple of moments of absurdly sped-up car crashes and ice-rink carnage, and a surreal cameo by Sam Peckinpah in which he’s entirely dubbed and not at all sober. The Italians tend to be good at throwing traditional narrative logic out the window, but unfortunately this one is never quite able to establish a coherent mood. Despite director Giulio Paradisi’s tangential connection to Fellini (he was a bit actor in 8 1/2 and La Dolce Vita), none of the master’s technique seemed to stick. The Visitor is worth seeing for its surreal and unsettlingly assembled scare scenes, and is a pretty fun and unpredictable supernatural horror flick.

6 / 10 = Check it out

Thanks again to Cinema Overdrive for presenting this theatrically.

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