Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Visitor

The Visitor (1979)

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An eight year old girl (Paige Connor) is the descendant of an evil extraterrestrial force called Sateen, granting her all kinds of weird psychic powers. A cabal of guys in suits is trying to get her mom (Joanne Nail) knocked up so there can be another super powered evil kid. The Visitor (John Huston) comes from another planet to contain the girl and stop the evil stuff from happening.

I was disappointed by this movie mostly because I was expecting a trippy 70s sci-fi catastrophe - I mean, just fucking look at the poster - but instead I got The Omen from space. The movie looks nice for the most part, it's got a Brian de Palma thing going on, and there are a couple scenes at the beginning and the end with beautiful fantasy light shows, but the majority of the movie is just regular city stuff, making the sci-fi aspect by and large irrelevant.

There's one scene in particular where the mother gets abducted in the back of a transport truck that looks like a space craft in the dark (reminding me that, oh yeah, this movie is about space stuff). Generally, the use of lighting was really cool.

The actress playing the evil kid, Paige Connor, is pretty good for a child actor which goes a long way in making this movie actually watchable. She's reasonably creepy as the female Damian, or an updated Bad Seed, whatever you want to call it.

The movie has like at least three big long scenes early on to clumsily explain what is going on. The first involves a guy who is Jesus I guess (Franco Nero) telling a bunch of space kids this story about how Sateen was this ancient space evil. Fortunately, he was captured by Yaweh. Unfortunately, he escaped to Earth. Fortunately, they sent a bunch of birds to kill him. Unfortunately, he changed form into an eagle and defeated the birds. Fortunately, some of the birds survived and mortally wounded him. Unfortunately he had already mated with a bunch of Earth women, so his evil descendants would live on. So we've got that.

Next we've got a scene of a basketball game which goes on for fucking ever and is basically just an excuse to have Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the movie. This explains to us that this little girl has Satanic - sorry Sateenic - powers that she uses to help her mom's boyfriend's basketball team win games for some stupid reason.

Then we've got one more scene of the mom explaining to her boyfriend (Lance Henriksen) that she thinks her daughter is weird and she is divorced and doesn't want to get remarried or have any more kids despite his pressuring her to do both of those things. Which, you know, you think would have been things that would have come up at any other point in their relationship.

There are also some really bizarre logic problems with the movie. The one that irked me the most was that John Huston is this interplanetary traveler, but he arrives in the United States on a plane and has to go through immigration or whatever. Why? Furthermore, he brings a bunch of monks and space bullshit with him which apparently did not cause an issue at customs. So, like, what the fuck. And he doesn't even leave on a plane at the end, he just space travels back to where he came from, so what was the point of him going through airport security. Why.

Secondly, there's this whole thing about how these guys in suits want the mom to have another baby, they need there to be another baby, coz they're really evil and stuff, and Lance Henriksen works for them obviously, so he's trying to get her to marry him. Is that necessary? Couldn't he just, like, sabotage her birth control? Eventually the suit guys get tired of this and go for a more direct approach. Which you would think would be rape, I guess? Nope, they wait for her car to break down on the highway and then come in a transport truck with an operating room in the trailer and surgically impregnate her? Luckily for her, her ex-husband (played by Sam fucking Peckinpah for fuck sakes) is a doctor and gives her an abortion. So there was another totally irrelevant piece to this movie.

And another thing, there's, like, one murder in this movie. Granted it's pretty boss, the girl's pet hawk flies in a buddy's window and pecks his eyes out while he's driving, causing him to drive off the road and get trapped in his burning car. But it's also stupid because he doesn't, like, pull over when this bird is pecking his eyes out, he keeps driving, so really, he killed himself.

Finally, the end scene involves the evil kid getting attacked by a shitload of space pigeons which, like, okay, I get the bird motif throughout the movie, but... man, a flock of birds killing somebody actually looks really bad on screen, I'm sorry.

Overall, this movie had its head more or less in the same place, but it was just really boring. Like, there should have been more weird sci-fi stuff, and more murder. Coz ultimately, this kid didn't really seem to be that much of a threat to humanity. I recommend instead watching Xtro which is similar, but weirder and grosser.

And now, introducing a completely arbitrary ranking system because I feel like it.

- Pretty colours (+1)
- Lance Henriksen is in this film (+1)
- Actually good child actress (+1)
- Main characters' house is amazing (+1)
- Eye pecking action (+1)
- Pong (+1)
Total: (+6)

- Christian theology as space drama is stupid (-1)
- Astrology (-1)
- Too much exposition (-5)
- Too much sports, including basketball, gymnastics, and ice skating (-5)
- Music was way too dramatic for what was going on on screen (-1)
- Murder birds. Birderers? (-1)
Total: (-14)

Final Score: -8 stars

Directed by: Michael J. Paradise.  Written by: Luciano Comici, Robert Mundi.  Starring: John Huston, Joanne Nail, Paige Connor, Lance Henriksen, Mel Ferrer, Shelley Winters, Glenn Ford, Sam Peckinpah, Franco Nero, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

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