The Visitor: The Strangest Sci-Fi / Horror / Religious Film You'll Ever See

Marshall Lemon | 27 Nov 2014 12:00
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What's odd is that The Visitor spends very little time developing the relationship between Katy and Colsowicz, and far more time on various subplots. The police detective investigating Barbara's shooting (played by Glenn Ford) takes a significant amount of investigating Katy's actions, only to be dropped into a lengthy car crash scene for his trouble. Barbara's boyfriend (played by Aliens' Lance Henriksen) is part of a global conspiracy to force her to have a second child that will help them take over the world. Of course, why the cabal of wealthy executives couldn't just use Katy for that isn't made entirely clear. There's a housekeeper (played by Shelley Winters) who claims to given birth to her own evil psychic brood years prior, and wants to defend Barbara from these dangers. That said, she does a frustratingly awful job of keeping Barbara from harm's way, and seems much more enthusiastic about beating Katy into submission. (According to a 2010 interview, Conner claims she was trained to expect a fake slap only for Winters to literally hit her instead.)

The Visitor also wasn't helped by various on-set flubs and post-production edits. There are maybe two or three musical numbers within the entire score, but a single track keeps being inserted into the film at random, both for climatic scenes or just when someone walks up a set of stairs. Sam Peckinpah (director of The Wild Bunch and Straw Dogs) was paid to act in a single sequence as Barbara's ex-husband and Katy's father, only for most of his lines to be redubbed. And for some reason, Henriksen and Nail were allowed to improvise their bedroom dialogue, leading this staggering exchange:

[after the exploding basketball scene]
Barbara: You know, that explosion... I can't get it out of my mind.
Raymond: Which explosion? The first explosion (with) one ball or the second explosion with two ball?
Barbara: *laughs*
Raymond: How come you don't explode when we're making love?


Still, with all the plot material featured in The Visitor those points could easily be redeemed with a powerful ending. Perhaps a spaceship arrives in the sky to take Katy away? Or there's a climatic psychic showdown between Katy and Colsowicz? Not even close; The Visitor ends with the giant flock of birds flying through a space portal to wipe Sateen's evil from the Earth. Seriously, The Visitor decides that the best way to end its psychedelic religious film is a recreation of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, because it wasn't stuffed full with enough sci-fi and horror films already.

Bottom Line: The Visitor is a mess, through and through, but it's a hilariously fascinating mess to watch unfold. That so many established actors took part in its development only adds to the appeal, and keeps the film halfway watchable across a two-hour runtime.

Recommendation: Are you in the mood for a sci-fi, horror, religious flick that someone hoped would be a smash hit, but amused and confused instead? The Visitor should be near the top of that list.

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