The Visitor (1979) | This Insane Encounter of The Omen Kind is a delirious guilty pleasure

The Visitor (1979)

A mysterious old man. A demonic child. An ancient fight between good and evil. Katy Collins (Paige Conner) is no normal 8-year-old girl – but an incarnation of Sateen, a powerful supernatural entity from a distant planet who was vanquished many light years ago. However, Sateen’s followers continue to spread Sateen’s evil legacy by spawning a race of children with immense powers. Brought to Earth by a cosmic Christ figure, an intergalactic exorcist known at The Visitor (John Huston) now fights to save Katy’s soul and prevent her mother (Joanne Nail) from giving birth of another unholy offspring…

The Visitor (1979)

A bunch of big-name Hollywood stars try not to look baffled and bemused in The Visitor, an insane Italian sci-fi horror hybrid from 1979 that purposely rips-off the first two Omen films, as well as Rosemary’s Baby, Close Encounter of the Third Kind and even The Birds.

John Huston, Glenn Ford, Shelly Winters, Mel Ferrer and Sam Peckinpah must have got a healthy paycheck to head down to Atlanta and fly out to Rome to cameo in what the Village Voice called ‘the schizophrenic mother of all 70’s drive-in oddities’.

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It’s such a shame that Huston or Peckinpah didn’t direct this farrago from Ovidio Assonitis, who also produced the drive-in terrors Beyond the Door and Tentacles, rather than just appear in it. As it stands, this demonic schlock-fest makes no sense at all and that’s because the two screenwriters were given the unenviable task of turning director Giulio Paradisi’s convoluted surreal sci-fi story into something sane and bankable. It wasn’t!

But it’s best to forget the plot and just marvel at the dazzling overblown imagery, the WTF! set pieces and Franco Micalizzi’s pulsating music score, while trying to guess where you’ve seen those scenes before. To add to your feeling of déjà vu, Lance Henriksen played a similar devil-worshipping character in 1978’s Damien: Omen II after having a bit part in Close Encounters the year before. A mute Franco Nero plays Jesus – in a blonde wig. Expect one helluva trip!

A delirious guilty pleasure for cult fans, connoisseurs of the absurd and cinephiles alike, The Visitor, was resurrected for a limited cinema re-release last year by Drafthouse Films in the US, based on a new HD restoration from the original, uncut film materials, and is now presented in the Arrow Films release.

The Visitor (1979)

The Arrow dual format B/2 release includes both high definition Blu-ray (1080p) and standard definition DVD presentation of the feature, with original mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray) and optional English subtitles. The special features include some very candid interviews with Lance Henriksen, screenwriter Lou Comici and cinematographer Ennio Guarnieri, plus reversible sleeve featuring original artwork by Erik Buckman. There’s also a collector’s booklet featuring an informative article that makes great sense of director Paradisi’s original concept and traces the film’s crazy gestation from script to screen.


About Peter Fuller

Peter Fuller is an award-winning print, radio and television journalist and producer, with over 30 years experience covering film and television, with a special interest in world cinema and popular culture. He is a leading expert on the life and career of Vincent Price and actively promotes the actor's legacy through publications, websites and special events.

Posted on November 20, 2014, in Cult classic, Horror, Must See, Must See, Must-See, Sci-Fi and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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