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Blu-ray Review: 'The Visitor' (2013)

The Visitor (1979)


Last year, Austin's Alamo Drafthouse re-released 1979 sci-fi/horror film 'The Visitor' in theaters.

Still image from 1979's 'The Visitor'
Still image from 1979's 'The Visitor'

But most folks had never of 'The Visitor' in the first place. The Italian movie debuted to poor reviews and fled quickly from theaters upon its initial release.

For those who missed the brief 2013 theatrical run, Drafthouse Films released 'The Visitor' on Blu-ray in January, 2014.

On the back cover, it boldly proclaims the film was "the Sci-fi epic 1979 couldn't handle!" But I'm not sure the 21st century can either.

Imagine a mash-up of 'The Exorcist', 'The Birds', 'The Omen' and 'Close Encounters Of The Third Kind' and you're halfway there.

Amazingly, for a bargain basement Italian flick, it has a high roster cast, featuring legendary Hollywood actors John Huston, Shelly Winters, and Glenn Ford. Even controversial filmmaker Sam Peckinpah makes a cameo. It's also one of the first films for genre actor fave Lance Henriksen.

But they look just as confused in their performances as audiences are of the plot. This loosely involves Satan (referred to as Sateen), alien orbs, killer birds, and psychedelic sequences.

I'm having trouble giving a focused review, because everything about 'The Visitor' is a mess. It features a young girl who acts out like Linda Blair's character from 'The Exorcist;, but her southern twang and hammy acting make her less scary than super irritating.

Equally odd is the music, every time heroic protector the Visitor (Huston) arrives on-screen a hammy cue that sounds like every 70's cop-show theme pops up.

Despite its ludicrous plot and wacky execution, you can't take your off 'The Visitor.' It's the right kind of crazy, bad movie, made for cult classic status. It's a bizarre, nonsensical experience that any genre fan owes it to themselves to check out.

The Blu-ray offers as crisp a transfer of a grainy 70's movie can attain. Special features are sparse, but hilarious, with interviews with Henricksen, and the original screenwriter and cinematographer, all of whom explain that it was the mercurial director's Giluio Paradisi's vision that accounted for the movie's hallucinatory, hodgepodge feel.

'The Visitor' is rated R and runs 90 minutes.