There are so many mind-meltingly weird elements in the sci-fi/horror epic The Visitor that it’s difficult to do the film justice with a brief description. Put simply, the movie is a vague rip-off of The Omen, concerning the efforts of a heroic character to prevent a malevolent child from unleashing something terrible. Accordingly, The Visitor has the requisite scenes of a wholesome-looking young girl using her supernatural powers—or simply her bare hands—to inflict violence. And while the true strangeness of The Visitor stems from the chaotic storytelling, maniacal style, and WTF plot complications, even the central premise gets tarted up in a way that ensures audience bewilderment.
Because, you see, it’s not just that little Katy Collins (Paige Conner) is some sort of devil child who must be killed in order to protect the universe. No, the problem is that Katy’s innocent mother, pretty Atlanta divorcée Barbara Collins (Joanne Nail), has a womb that breeds superkids, so conspirators led by mysterious surgeon Dr. Walker (Mel Ferrer) have positioned Barbara’s boyfriend, Raymond (Lance Henriksen), to push Barbara into marriage and a second pregnancy so she can breed a son, because together with Katy, the son will comprise the demonic equivalent of the Wonder Twins. Got all that? Good, since there’s more!
Stalking Barbara and Katy is grandfatherly space alien Jerzy Colsowicz (John Huston), who leads a band of bald alien musclemen who spend most of their time doing the equivalent of interpretive dance while standing behind scrims atop an Atlanta rooftop. Interstellar performance-art alert! Jerzy chases Barbara and Katy around downtown Atlanta, even though Katy tries to use her telekinetic abilities to kill him, and Jerzy spends one evening in the Collins home by announcing he’s the babysitter sent by an employment agency because the regular girl is sick. After all, don’t most of us welcome 70-year-old men into our homes to watch over our prepubescent daughters while we’re away? Oh, and we still haven’t mentioned the never-seen aunt who gives Katy a loaded pistol for her birthday, or that Katy accidentally shoots and paralyzes her mother. And then there’s crazed nanny Jane (Shelley Winters), who slaps Katy around because she knows that Katy is evil. Is it even worth noting that the plot also includes an intrepid police detective (Glenn Ford) and a silent longhair who may or may not be Jesus (Franco Nero)?
The Visitor is gonzo right from the opening scene, a trippy special-effects vignette showing Huston in some otherworldly environment with oddly colored liquid skies. Among the film’s myriad bizarre episodes are the following: Katy uses her telekinesis to sway an NBA game by causing a basketball to explode; Jerzy has some sort of orgasmic interaction with a radioactive space cloud full of birds; a scene of spinal surgery gets intercut with a gymnastics routine; and famed movie director Sam Peckinpah shows up for one scene, in silhouette, to play a medical doctor. Accentuating all of this bizarre content is disjointed editing that makes everything seem hallucinatory, and lots of operatic disco music. You’ve been warned.
The Visitor: FREAKY