The Visitor (aka Stridulum)
The Visitor is the reason, I love looking for and watching b-movies. The perfect reward after sifting through hours upon hours of dull, uninspired films, clones of bigger budget films that bring nothing new to the table, and Jerry Fucking Warren. It's wonderful to see something so insane that it defies description and makes you sit on your couch wondering what the hell is unfolding before you.
The Visitor is such a film.
The poster tells you nothing, the initial description of the plot, seemed to offer little more than yet another evil kid movie, this one with more science fiction trappings than demonic. I settled in expecting little more than that, and hoping at least a little bit of that particular weird atmosphere that only seems to occur in 1970's Italian b-movies would be there.
From moment one The Visitor lets loose with full blown weirdness. The film opens with John Huston standing in an alien landscape in his finest cape and talking to the sun about an eight year old girl. And then out of nowhere we cut to a basketball game where Raymond Armstead (a very young Lance Hendrickson), his girlfriend, Barbara ( Joanne Nail) and their daughter, Katy (Paige Conner) are watching it. It seems Ray is the new owner of a failing basketball team and he's promised that they are going to be much improved thanks to the massive amount of money he's pouring into the organization. He neglects to mention that his daughter can look a basketball player in the eye and cause him to preform a dunk so awesome that the basketball explodes. Which she does, and which the player does and which the basketball indeed does as well, winning the game.
It seems Ray owes his recent acquisition of the team to a shadowy organization that really wants Barbara to crank out another kid. So yes, this organization offered Ray anything he wanted in return for two kids, anything... at all... and he chose a basketball team. A shitty basketball team that needs alien hybrid intervention to even win a single game. The evil guys in dark suits seem to need two evil children for whatever reason, and Barbara is the last human on Earth who has the Evil Gene™ which must be recessive or something. Unfortunately Barbara is an independent modern 70's gal and won't marry Ray or produce any more kids, they tell Ray to fix that or else.
Meanwhile John Huston has finally gotten his old ass to Earth where he's greeted at the airport by a bald guy, who proceeds to take him to meet a bunch of other bald guys on a roof. All these bald guys then spend several scenes building a secret bald guy feng shui club house of transparent white cubes. This is never explained and in fact never comes up again in the movie.
The evil club decides to help Ray become close to Barbara by transforming this horribly creepy talking peacock statue into a gun, which Katy gets at her birthday party. Katy throws the gun on the table and mom gets shot and paralyzed for life. This is the evil plan to make her get closer to Ray and produce more children. Huh. I should also note two things: Barb's recovery is inter-cut with Katy being really good at gymnastics and at no point does being paralyzed for life ever cause Barb to be upset. Not once, ever. She's totally cool with it.
Later mom hires Shelly Winters as a nanny, Katy blows up a cop car and beats up some teenagers by out ice skating them. She plays a sinister game of Pong against John Huston. Mom gets pregnant, has the world's easiest abortion and a hot dog vendor gets crushed by a fire escape. None of these things really have anything to do with the plot, whatever the hell that might be. All I know is it somehow involves good birds fighting evil birds and Space Jesus in a white turtleneck.
In short this movie is brilliant.
It's shot surprisingly well, everything has a lush menace about it. The special effects are a bit on the cheap side but that just adds to whole weirdness factor, special note should be made of a cool looking space ship that might, in fact, be a tractor trailer. The acting is decent. John Huston looks like he's about ready to fall over dead at any moment and I'm not sure why Paige Conner has a southern accent despite neither of her parents having one. Space Jesus has a nice smile and the worst perm job imaginable.
And the music...oh the music. There's this theme. This triumphant theme that gets played over the the opening and closing credits and anytime and I mean anytime John Huston does anything. Including walking up stairs or looking around at things. It's hilariously out of place and it just gets funnier as the movie goes on.
Code Red has recently put out a very nice widescreen version of the film, complete with a few extra scenes of Space Jesus explaining the plot near the beginning of the movie. This movie has become one of my top ten and I guarantee a wonderfully confusing and insane 90 minutes.