This is one of the craziest movies I’ve ever seen. With joyful and shameless willingness to recycle popular American successes, this Italian exploitation film is an insane bouillabaisse of such occult films as Rosemary’s Baby , The Exorcist and The Omen but also a tribute to such sci-fi classics as Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The Visitor has so many disconnected plot elements that it barely makes sense but it also has great energy, suspense and is reasonably well paced to make it a very enjoyable experience even if you are a not a connoisseur of trash cinema. The film was produced by Ovidio Assonity, who previously brought us Beyond the Door (a ripoff of The Exorcist) and Tentacles (a ripoff of Jaws).
At times, the film comes across as a series of disconnected images; aliens wandering through the desert, giant green clouds billowing up from nowhere, the sky turning the color of blood, and exploding basketballs. But what the film lacks in coherence and plot structure is positively weighted with its lunacy and an all star cast which includes John Huston, Glenn Ford, Mel Ferrer, Sam Peckinpah, Shelley Winters and Lance Henriksen.
The film opens with a prologue reminiscent of The Exorcist's Iraq scene in which John Huston faces his enemy in a barren dessert while billowing colored clouds fly by. Soon after, before you can say Georgetown, we cut to Lance Henriksen, the manager of an Atlanta basketball team as they defeat the L.A. Team with lots of ominous close-ups of Kareem-Abdul Jabbar. Enters Paige Conner, a mysterious child wearing oversized sunglasses a la Elton John (we are in Elton’s US residence city, after all) and she proceeds to make a basketball explode making Henriksen's team win. It turns out that Henriksen and Conner are in cahoots to get her mommy to marry him. We also learn that Conner is possessed by evil, her eyes turn silver occasionally, she loves to curse and she has an evil bird mascot, in the same way that Damien had his pets in the Omen series. Conner's mother (Joanne Nail) suspects that something is wrong with her daughter and suspects that her boyfriend (Henriksen ) has ulterior motivates to dating her. It turns out that Henriksen is part of an evil organization not from this world responsible for making sure that Nail gets pregnant since she has the gene that allows her to birth evil children. John Huston travels to Atlanta to stop Conner. Enters the maid Shelley Winters, a twisted version of Mary Poppins, who sticks around long enough to tell Nail about her child's evil nature. Then, Conner begins killing off anybody whom she feels will do her harm.
The film’s crazy approach is irresistible often using surreally striking imagery; various gory deaths reminiscent of The Omen, a fun hall-of-mirrors sequence inspired by Enter the Dragon, a copy cad version of the highway scene in Close Encounters, Connors glowing eyes a la Village of the Dammed, mass bird attacks a la Hitchcock’s The Birds, and a whacked out scene in a skating rink that it is as funny as it is fascinating to watch. Think Ice Castles on acid!
The movie looks a bit dated due to some hideous '70s hairdos and fashions but it also has a cool funky '70s music score which is a highlight in a sort of campy way.
Shelley Winters is good as an astrologer bible-bashing Mary Poppins, while John Houston is excellent and understated impersonating a babysitter from outer space. Paige Conner goes over the top as a Linda Blair look alike with a southern accent and poor Joanne Nail just reacts to the overwhelming amount of abuse that she is subjected from being gunned down, propelled into a fish tank, artificially inseminated by aliens and thrown down a flight of stairs while being strangled. There is even a 30 second cameo at the end of the film with Italian Superstar Franco Nero as Jesus Christ.
The last half hour of this film is quite suspenseful. Granted, there's not much logic to it, but I was hooked anyway. All in all, The Visitor is a surreal piece of inspired lunacy that is incoherent yet very fun to watch. Give it a chance and dig that groovy '70s style!