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Home > Satanists, Telekinesis, and Bald Disciples in The Visitor (1979)

Satanists, Telekinesis, and Bald Disciples in The Visitor (1979)

The Visitor

Wrath is a Thing With Feathers

Italy’s rich history of fascism spurred an understated aim at filmmaking, exposing the mundane reality of living under a dictatorship. After World War 2 ended, Italian film exploded in turn with the renewed artistic expression that spread throughout Europe, exploring themes of surrealism and dystopia for the first time, although never quite losing its offbeat character. Across the globe, American audiences were spoon-fed idealized war heroes, product placements, and happy endings, developing short attention spans with quick pleasure fixes. A movie as outlandish as The Visitor (1979) needs no introduction. It was rated a C+ at best in the U.S. It’s possible that its premise has been lost in translation.

Another World, Another Time, Another Existence

Even though the film is set in Atlanta, it’s immediately clear that the screenplay was directed by someone named Guilio Paradisi, whose cinematography includes a movie called Spaghetti House. The Visitor opens in a mirage of a meeting between two cloaked figures against a smoky horizon somewhere in space. The enigmatic composure compliments the focal scenes in the film very well by framing distinctly American settings as sublime. In The Visitor, a blinking game of pong, a four-lane highway at night, and a colosseum of NBA fans seem alien.

The Visitor’s soundtrack is an original composed by Franco Micalizzi. It’s a roaring, groovy instrumental that fills in apprehension in lieu of dialogue. The logical conclusion to the plot’s rhetoric is horribly distasteful, but the score adds an air of elegance to the entire situation – in a foreign, neorealist sense.

The Visitor 1979

Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely

America’s ultrarich are, of course, ultimately funded by a conspiracy that fixes major league sports games and prearranges favorable genetic couplings to perpetuate a master race. Team owner Raymond Armstead (Lance Henriksen) is no more than a stand-in for his future son he’s supposed to conceive with his girlfriend. Barbara Collins (Joanne Nail) is the last descendent of Zatteen, a long-dead force of havoc that lives on in the recesses of her subconscious. Her daughter Katy (Paige Conner) has already taken after the malicious entity at seven. As the corporeal materialization of chaos itself, she is quite the handful. 

The Visitor is extremely Catholic. Zatteen’s intergalactic counterpart Yahweh is worshiped “far away, beyond the imagination” by a group of young ascetics. They’re led by a distinctly Aryan depiction of a certain religious figure from the Bible (his name starts with a J). They send some sort of preordained babysitter (John Huston) to visit Katy. 

I Am Smarter Than All Of You

Katy Collins is a nightmare in pigtails. She is rarely seen without Squeaky, a screeching raptor that does her bidding for better or worse. Katy is highly gifted and knows it. She’s bratty, resentful, and powerfully psychic. She settles the petty skirmishes she instigates with her telekinetic abilities, taking every chance she gets to cuss out the elderly. 

The Visitor feels like a fever dream. What happens next is not necessarily dictated by any kind of authoritative direction, but it is entertaining nonetheless. The whole movie is on Youtube for free with ads. A low volume is recommended for any scene with Squeaky in it. Buon appetito!

The Visitor (1979). Official American International Pictures Trailer. 

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Avery Pearson has written long-form print pieces, thought leadership articles, and web copy for startups and nonprofits. Her work has been featured in Ocean News & Technology.