the visitor | giulio paradisi | luciano comici | robert mundi | mel ferrer | glenn ford | lance henriksen | sci-fi | sci fi | space | alien | aliens | religion | allegory | italy | john huston | joanne nail | sam peckinpah | shelley winters | paige conner | j.a. townsend
Film: The Visitor (Stridulum)
Director: Giulio Paradisi
Writer: Luciano Comici and Robert Mundi
Starring: Mel Ferrer, Glenn Ford and Lance Henriksen
This was another movie that I never heard of until I was looking for horror movies for Italian Horror Month. This was the highest rated one that I had never seen, so I was intrigued to check it out. Aside from that, I came in pretty blind here with knowing what it was about. The synopsis here the soul of a young girl with telekinetic powers becomes the prize in a fight between forces of God and the Devil.
We start this movie off with an odd showdown between Jerzy Colsowicz (John Huston) and a figure in a black cloak. It looks to be on a foreign planet as the figure is approaching Jerzy has a brilliant sun behind them. There are other meteorological things happening as well like it starts to snow and both sides are using what I’m assuming are telepathic powers from the performances to cause this.
It then shifts us to Jesus Christ (Franco Nero) telling the background story to all of these events to a group of bald headed children. He is speaking of a villain named Sateen. He was captured by their captain, Yahweh. He did escape though to Earth where he mated with Earth women, spreading his power down to their offspring. Jerzy enters while he is speaking and informs him that Katy Collins (Paige Conner) needs to be dealt with on Earth. He is going to handle it. When he arrives, he goes to the roof an abandoned building where he’s working with a couple of bald headed adults to start his mission.
We’re in Atlanta, Georgia at a basketball game. The owner of the team is Raymond Armstead (Lance Henriksen). When asked where he gets his money, he dodges the question. With him is his girlfriend of Barbara Collins (Joanne Nail). Also here is her daughter, Katy. We see that she might have some telekinetic powers that come into play to end this basketball game.
Afterwards, Barbara goes home with Ray and he asks her to marry him again. She refuses, stating that she doesn’t want to remarry and doesn’t want more children. This upsets him, but she is strong-willed. She then goes home where Katy makes a horrible statement about wanting to murder her babysitter. She is quite fond of Ray as well.
We see that he has some ulterior motives. Ray goes to see Dr. Walker (Mel Ferrer), who takes him to a boardroom full of people. He has been given all of the money and power he has, but his mission is to marry and impregnate Barbara. They need her to have more children like Katy.
There is an accident that happens to help Ray, which causes Barbara to be paralyzed. She still resists though. She is given a new nanny by agency that is Jane Phillips (Shelley Winters). Along with Jerzy, they try to help her from the evil plans of Dr. Walker. They will stop at nothing though to fulfill their mission.
That is really the jist of the story for this movie. When things were all said and done, it really doesn’t have the most complex story. It was sitting down to write this that I realized there is a bit more depth to what we’re working with here that I do appreciate. I think I’ll start with the background story here which is this is really taking the basic idea of Christianity and making it sci-fi based. The Yahweh we learn about in the beginning is God. Sateen is Satan and their battle led to him being capture. He then went to Earth where he is corrupting mankind. Jesus probably was there at some point handling things before going to Heaven, which is this other planet.
What else is interesting here is that we have Barbara. She was married to Dr. Sam Collins (Sam Peckinpah). They divorced, but when she’s in trouble she goes back to him. The social commentary involves abortions here while also looking at Barbara being raped and forced to have a child she doesn’t want. It is also interesting in having our villain be Katy as well. She is just a child, but they do well with her being nasty and foul-mouthed where we don’t necessarily see her as a child. I also like that she has this hawk/eagle animal a pet. This goes back to the story that Jesus is relaying early on as well.
I feel that next I should take this to the acting. We have a really interesting and good cast. I like Ferrer as the villain. He works there. Henriksen is another great villain. Nail is quite attractive and I like seeing what she has to deal with throughout this movie. It builds growth. We have legends in filmmaking with Glenn Ford as Det. Jake Durham, Huston as this old wise man very well along with Peckinpah and Winters. The latter plays an odd housekeeper that doesn’t necessarily fit, but I liked it. I also really liked what Conner did. She plays this bratty girl well. What I think helps is how it is written. I will say that no one really turns in a great performance, but it works still.
From here I’ll go to the effects. I’ll be honest; there are really some cheesy ones which were done with early computer effects. I have a soft spot for it though. This is mostly done with some the more sci-fi elements like being on another planet. I don’t think those look bad, but the lack technology is something that I can’t hold against it. There are some good practical effects for sure, especially with some of the bird attack scenes. The cinematography is also well done.
I do have some negatives with this movie though as well. The first is that I think it runs too long. The 108 minute runtime doesn’t seem to be needed. The story isn’t that complex and I think that a good 15 minutes or so could be trimmed here to tighten it up. I found myself bored due to the longer runtime in my opinion.
Another gripe as well would the soundtrack. I actually love the 70’s synth sound, but not for this movie. It didn’t really fit for what they were going for. I think we needed a bit more brooding as this felt like it was taken from a more action movie. I do enjoy it, but just doesn’t fit for me.
So now with that said, I think this movie is an interesting take on a more classic good vs. evil story. Taking elements from the bible and then making them more sci-fi works for me. It feels like something that could be an explanation to them as well. There is a really good cast of legends and lesser known actors here that worked for me. Not all of the effects are good, but I have a soft spot for them due to the era. My only gripes are with the length of the movie and that the soundtrack doesn’t necessarily fit the movie we’re getting here. Overall though I still enjoyed this and come in that this as just over average for me. It is lacking a bit for me to go higher though.
My Rating: 6 out of 10