There is something truly fascinating about a movie that starts out making very little sense and then proceeds to get even more messed up and nonsensical as it goes. That is the case with Giulio Paradisi’s 1979 new age meets Star Wars flick called The Visitor, but what is truly astounding is the caliber of people who decided to join him on this cinematic acid trip.
The film opens on a strange alien landscape as two figures face off in some kind of cosmic High Noon in space. One of the figures is dressed like a Jedi and looks surprising like John Huston, he watches the other dark figure carefully as a powerful storm approaches and soon envelops the figure in a snowstorm, at which point it is revealed to be an evil demonic girl.
We then jump to Space Jesus telling a bunch of bald kids the story of the evil super-criminal Sateen who escaped from Commander Yavay’s amazing spaceship and fled to Earth. You see Sateen (totally not Satan) is a mutant with an unquenchable desire to kill and while on Earth developed psychic powers to which he uses to sow death and destruction wherever he goes. Yavay arrives and turns into a flock of birds to kill Sateen but the mutant turns into an eagle to fight off the birds and almost wins until the final three birds of the flock fatally wound him in the brain. Unfortunately, that is not the end of Sateen’s evil for he had managed to impregnate some Earth women and now Yavay’s descendants spend the centuries trying to prevent the spread of Sateen’s evil.
Jerzy Colsowicz (John Huston and it really is him) crashes the meeting to inform Space Jesus that a new descendant of Sateen has been found, her name is Katy Collins (Paige Connor) and she is just turning eight. If any of the above made sense to you I suggest you go and seek psychiatric help.
This movie is the ultimate movie mash-up as it contains elements of; The Bad Seed, The Omen, Rosemary’s Baby, Star Wars, The Birds, Carrie, The Fury and for some reason Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It’s as if Giulio Paradisi put all those scripts into a blender, hit purée and then dumped the contents out on a page without worrying if it’d make a lick of sense. The main characters in this drama are Barbara Collins (Joanne Nail) the girl’s mother, Raymond Armstead (Lance Henriksen) her boyfriend and owner of a Los Angles NBA team, police detective Jake Durham (Glenn Ford) who thinks Katy is an evil little shit, and Dr. Walker (Mel Ferrer) who is head of a strange and powerful cabal that uses its power and influence to spread the evil of Sateen.
It’s Raymond’s job to get Barbara to marry him so that she will get pregnant and provide Katy with a brother. You see Barbara has a cosmically powerful uterus that contains Sateen’s genetic code and will pop out evil babies and thus tip the scales in the war against evil. The problem is that Barbara does not want to get married nor does she want any more kids as she knows there is something wrong with Katy. The group tries to make Barbara more dependent on Raymond by having Katy “accidentally” shoot her mother at her birthday party. Barbara is crippled and confined to a wheelchair but still will not marry Raymond. Detective Durham investigates the shooting wondering how a loaded gun got inside a wrapped package that was supposed to contain a toy bird. He harasses Katy one too many times and ends up dead from a bird attack while driving on the freeway.
During all this, “The Visitor” Jerzy Colsowicz and a group of his bald followers have been monitoring Katy, watching her powers grow to the point where she is able to toss bullies around with ease. Jerzy isn’t Katy’s only nemesis as the new housekeeper (Shelley Winters) isn’t taking any guff from this eight year old terror and has no problem slapping the shit out of her.
The true horror of this movie is just the utter hell poor Barbara Collins goes through. She gets shot in the back and confined to a wheelchair and when she refuses to marry and get pregnant she is drugged and artificially impregnated. When she goes to her ex-husband (Sam Peckinpah) and gets an abortion she is attacked by a bird, followed by a beating from Katy and then Raymond trying to strangle her.
Eventually, Jerzy and the housekeeper meet up on the rooftop for their close encounter with the cosmic powers which, when unleashed, form into a flock of birds that attack Katy and Raymond. One of the birds turns into some kind of ceramic/stone bird and stabs Raymond to death
Jerzy comforts the poor traumatized Barbara while all the other members of the cabal are found just as gruesomely dead as dear ole Raymond. We then cut back to Space Jesus and his bald little minions as they find out from Jerzy that Katy has, “Become just like the others, she thought I wanted to kill her. We can’t kill children, only the evil part, and that’s no more”. If that’s not supposed to be incredibly creepy than they failed.
This movie has one of the most impressive casts I’ve seen in a genre movie. None of them really phone it in, with Lance Henriksen being especially good as the creepy boyfriend and young Paige Connor being quite excellent as the telekinetic spawn of evil. This film is certainly what one would call an “acquired taste” as its batshit crazy for most of its running time, so if you want to see John Huston stalk and then go one on one with a mini-Carrie then this is the film for you.