Horror Film Review: The Visitor (dir by Giulio Paradisi)


The_Visitor_1979_film_poster

Do you want to see a strange horror film?

Just check out The Visitor, a 1979 Italian film that has recently been re-released by Drafthouse Films and occasionally shows up on TCM.  In many ways, The Visitor is a total and complete mess.  But, as is so often the case with Italian horror films, that very messiness — combined with some genuinely imaginative narrative and directorial choices — serves to make The Visitor into one of the most memorable films that you (possibly) have never heard of.

Like many of the Italian exploitation films released in the 70s and 80s, The Visitor is a rather blatant rip-off of a successful American film.  What makes The Visitor unique is the amount of different movies that it rips off.  The Visitor takes films that you would assume had no connection and mixes them together to create something wonderfully odd.

Franco Nero as Jesus in The Visitor

Franco Nero as Jesus in The Visitor

Much like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Visitor opens with the idea that intergalactic beings have been visiting Earth for centuries and are subtly influencing the development of humanity.  The Visitor literally opens with Jesus Christ (played by Franco Nero!) sitting on a satellite and telling a version of the creation story to a bunch of bald children.  He explains that, long ago, he battled an evil intergalactic demon known as Sateen.  Sateen (who, the film implies, is better known on Earth as Satan) was eventually blown up but his genes were spread throughout humanity.  The bald children surrounding him are the descendants of Sateen.  Whenever one of them is born, Jesus sends an old man named Jerzy Colsowicz (played by director John Huston) to Earth so that Jerzy can bring the child to the satellite.  Of course, whenever Jerzy isn’t kidnapping kids for Jesus, he spends his time hanging out in a psychedelic dimension.

Yes, you did read that correctly.

This is where Jerzy lives.

This is where Jerzy lives.

Once you get past the intergalactic part of the story, The Visitor is a pretty obvious rip-off of both The Omen and Damien: Omen II, with the main difference being that the demon child here is not a cherubic little boy but instead is a rather bratty 8 year-old little girl named Katy (Paige Collins).  However, Katy is not the Antichrist.  Instead, her job is to mate with a male child who also has Sateen’s genes and then her baby will be the Antichrist.  In order to get this male child, Katy is pressuring her mother (Joanne Nail) to have sex with businessman Raymond Armstead (Lance Henriksen, who was also in Damien II: The Omen) so that Katy can have a half-brother to mate with.  (Ewwwwwwww!)  Raymond is a follower of Sateen and, adding to the film’s already odd feel, he also happens to own a basketball team.

(So, along with everything else going on, The Visitor also features a lot of basketball footage, which I guess would be exciting if I knew anything about basketball.)

Despite being a pretty powerful figure in the Sateenist hierarchy Raymond is not the head Sateenist.  No, the head Sateenist is played by Mel Ferrer, an actor who was once married to Audrey Hepburn and who will be familiar to anyone who has ever watched an Italian horror film.  (You can spot Ferrer in Zombie Holocaust, for example.)  Ferrer and the other Sateenists are all old, distinguished looking white men who spend all of their time meeting in an ornate corporate boardroom.

So, Jerzy comes down to Earth  to, with the help of a nanny played Shelley Winters, try to kidnap Katy but, for some reason, he doesn’t just do that.  Instead, he spends most of his time just watching Katy do destructive things.

Much as in The Omen, anyone who gets too close to discovering the truth about Katy ends up dying an elaborate and bloody way.  Often times, their death involves black crows, who the film suggests might actually be all of those little bald kids in animal disguise. So is Jesus sending those crows to kill people?  Seriously, this movie is weird.

Beware the Crows

Beware the Crows

Meanwhile, Katy’s mom is having doubts about both Raymond and her daughter.  She even goes and talks to her ex-husband, an abortionist who is played by yet another film director, in this case Sam Peckinpah.  Katy gets annoyed with her mom and, after happening to come across a gun hidden away inside of a birthday presents, shoots her in the back and leaves her paralyzed.

And did I mention that Katy is telekinetic, much like Carrie?  That’s right!  During my favorite scene, Katy goes skating at the local mall’s ice rink and, after a group of boys bully her, she uses her powers to send those bullies flying all over the mall.  Oddly enough, nobody seems to notice this chaos.  Except, of course, for Jerzy who just stands off in the corner and watches without doing anything…

Seriously, I love The Visitor.  Along with being surprisingly well-acted and visually inventive, the film is just so weird!  In many ways, it epitomizes everything that I love about the old Italian exploitation films.  While it is rather shameless about ripping off other movies, the film still brings its own unique spin to everything.

Normally, I’d say that The Visitor is a good film for Halloween but you know what?  Anytime is a good time for an Italian horror film!

Welcome

Welcome

 

6 Undead Trailers For Halloween


Welcome to the last part of this special Halloween edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Film Trailers!  The Trailer Kitties have been out and busy and they’ve returned with 6 trailers that celebrate the undead!

1) White Zombie (1932)

2) I Walked With A Zombie (1943)

3) The Astro-Zombies (1968)

4)  Deathdream (1972)

5) Shock Waves (1977)

6) The Erotic Nights of the Living Dead (1980)

What do you think, Trailer Kitties?

Zombie Trailer Kitty

Horror Artist Profile: Richard Tennant Cooper (1885 — 1957)


There’s not a lot of information available on the artist Richard Tennant Cooper.  It’s known from 1910 to 1912 that he painted several paintings that were meant to show the effects of disease on the human body.  In his paintings, disease was represented by skeletons and evil ghosts, which are often seen hovering above the sick.  Cooper also served in the British Army during World War I and painted several pictures based on his experiences.  The first five pictures below are examples of Cooper’s medical work while the final four were inspired by World War I.

V0017058 A sickly female invalid sits covered up on a balcony overloo L0021275 'Syphilis' by Richard Cooper Cooper 2 V0017053 An unconscious naked man lying on a table being attacked by V0017059 The angel of death (a winged skeletal creature) drops some d

(c) Royal Signals Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation (c) Royal Signals Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation (c) National Army Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation (c) National Army Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

A Blast From The Past: Halloween is Grinch Night


So, we all know that the Grinch once tried to steal to Christmas and then his heart grew a few sizes but did you know that apparently, the Grinch also tried to steal Halloween?

Until a few days ago, I did not.  I was going through YouTube, searching for horror films that I could share here on the Shattered Lens, and guess what I came across?

A TV special from 1977 entitled Halloween is Grinch Night!

Unlike How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Halloween is Grinch Night apparently never became a holiday classic.  Perhaps that’s because Halloween is Grinch Night is not exactly the most heart-warming of holiday specials.  Whereas How The Grinch Stole Christmas tells us about how the Grinch learned the true meaning of Christmas, Halloween is Grinch Night gives us a Grinch who has no redeeming features.  There is no hope for this Grinch.  This Grinch will steal your soul and probably drink your blood.  This Grinch is pure Grinchy evil.

This is the Grinch of our nightmares.

Check out Halloween is Grinch Night below and hope the Grinch doesn’t capture you this Halloween…

 

Song of the Day: GWAR – The One That Will Not Be Named


In the past, I have always taken the opportunity on Halloween to feature some song or compilation respectful towards the pagan roots of the holiday. Halloween is, after all, a celebration of all those things traditionally taboo in a society which derives its moral perspective from Christianity.

Not this year. In honor of the late, great Dave Brockie, who passed away earlier this year, I offer you the grand finale of the most epic B-side horror-comedy album in the history of heavy metal. On Beyond Hell, GWAR are forced to retreat underground when their fortress in Antarctica is nuked and overrun by a global military task force (“War is All We Know”). They happen to stumble their way into Hell, and decide to spend their time in exile overthrowing Satan and claiming his armies to reconquer Earth. “The One That Will Not Be Named” is their final confrontation with Satan:

We’ve crossed creviced chasms vast,
And endless plains of unshaven ass.
Our time in Hell draws to the last!
We call upon the Master of the Pit:
“Have you got a toilet? I must take a shit!”
“Open your gates, Lord of Hate,”
“Or your front porch is gonna get it!”

“Very well, I’ll use my sword.”
“It’s very good as smashing doors.”
“We call you out!”
“Overrated Overlord!”

The root of all evil and hatred and shame,
So many victims, so many names,
But they are all the same.
“Ereshkigal!”
“Charun!”
“Helel ben-Shachar!”
“Lucifer! Satan! We know who you are!”

He is the one who will not be named
He is the one who will not be blamed

The realm of the sun we have left far behind,
And damned in the darkness we’ve groped with the blind.
Cannot remember time.
“We summon the Lord of Hell”
“So come forth now! I have your smell!”
“Cologne?! Cheap shit, and lots of it!”

He is the one who will not be named
He is the one who will not be blamed
He is the one that is turning the screws
The Lord of the Underworld. Let’s give the Devil his due!

(Lucifer): Welcome, GWAR, to my domain.
It’s nice to be called on by so many names.
What’s this I hear about you kicking my ass?

(In the live show, this is where Oderus fights a guy in an eight or nine foot tall Satan costume and chops his head off, drenching the audience in fake blood.)

He is the one who will not be named
He is the one who will not be blamed
He is the one that is turning the screws
The Lord of the Underworld. Let’s give the Devil his due!

We crossed chasms vast…
and endless ass…
Our time in Hell draws to the last.
The Legions of Hell lay broken and shorn.
The brothers of GWAR have slain through the storm.
The gate, it is riven. The Master is slain.
The fortress of GWAR is now ripe to reclaim.

We wasted Hell in the name of GWAR!
Though we really don’t know where we are…..

Happy Halloween everyone!

Horror on The Lens: Night of the Living Dead (dir by George Romero)


429px-Night_of_the_Living_Dead_affiche

Happy Halloween!

Here at the Shattered Lens, we’re all about tradition!  And what could be a better tradition than watching Night of the Living Dead on Halloween?

Watch it below and enjoy!  And then, after you’ve watched it, be sure to read Arleigh’s excellent review!