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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Film Review - The Visitor

By Adam Ruhl

Drafthouse Films is back with the theatrical re-release of the 1979 horror/sci fi film The Visitor, opening today in select cities. This film was entirely new to me and it seems, to a lot of other folks as well. There was a VHS release and a now out-of-print DVD that’s selling on Amazon for a hundred dollars or more. The Visitor is an Italian/American co-production, but what makes its obscurity so strange is that it has a large cast of rather big names. Appearing in the film is John Huston, Glenn Ford, Sam Peckinpah, Lance Henrikson, and Shelley Winters.

The film is a lot of fun to watch, while being something of a wonderful and ugly collage of contradictions. It plays at being an art film, but indulges a grating disco-era,  late-seventies TV drama score that pulls you out of the film. Its plot aspires to be a unique genre bender, but it still ruthlessly plagiarizes elements from popular films just as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Rosemary’s Baby, The Omen, and The Birds. The story follows an evil little girl who is the star spawn of a now deceased evil alien and the fight between two alien factions to get her mother to produce another evil child. John Huston plays an alien from the good side trying to redeem the little girl and prevent the evil conception from happening. The film is more of a straight forward narrative than it sounds until it reaches the end where it starts to go off the rails a little bit.

One of the strongest things the movie has going for it is its visuals. Drafthouse Films is presenting the film in a full HD restoration for the first time and the result is pretty spectacular. There are a lot of insane and violent images in the movie, a nod to its Italian horror roots, while still having good production value and stunning cinematography. The movie is being promoted as fully uncut in America for the first time. I don’t have a previous release to compare it to but the DVD is listed as 90 minutes and this new release runs 108 minutes suggesting pretty extensive additions. Fans of The Visitor will want to see the new extended version and for newcomers this is a great ‘lost gem’ horror film that will amaze on the big screen.

Theatrical Release Date: NOVEMBER 1, 2013 - LA & AUSTIN, NOVEMBER 8, 2013 - NYC See full release schedule Here
Runtime: 108 MINS

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