Monday, February 15, 2016

Stay. Please, Stay Forever

1978's The Visitor includes the following:

An evil child

Shelley Winters

Excessive usage of slow motion

Death by birding

and ladies and gentlemen, FIGURE SKATING MURDER

Naturally, it has instantly earned a place on my list as The Greatest Film of All Time.

Quick Plot: A super Jesus-y Franco Nero tells a school of bald children on loan from THX-world about Satine, an evil alien who escaped to earth to bring terrible things upon it. Nicer aliens followed suit by sending a hoard of attack birds after him (as you do). It did the job, but not before Satine fathered a few children.

Satine's descendants now number a mere two: Barbara Collins, a wealthy divorcee, and her 8-year-old daughter Katie. Jesus-y Nero doesn't quite go into all the basics, but it seems as though Barbara is a nice enough woman whose only genetic inheritance from her alien great great grandfather is the ability to bear more evil alien children. Katie, on the other hand, is one apple that stayed much closer to the tree.

What kind of kid is Katie? Oh, you know, the kind who greets her mother by flinging her vicious pet hawk at the woman and calmly explaining that she's going to kill her next babysitter. 

I. Love. This. Child.

So does Raymond, Barbara's wealthy boyfriend played by none other than Lance Henrickson. Raymond is eager to marry Barbara and broaden their family, primarily because he's secretly part  of an evil wealthy white man council determined to bring more little Satines into this world. 

Perhaps because her daughter is clearly a sociopath, Barbara isn't so willing to pop out more future gymnastics stars. Things get even more complicated when at Katie's birthday party, the kid is mysteriously gifted a handgun, which she tosses at her mother as it shoots her in the back. Because WHY NOT.

Even better, why not pair Barbara's diagnosis of paralysis with Katie's Olympic-level parallel bars routine? WHY NOT INDEED.

At this point, you have to be saying, "there's really nowhere for this movie to go but down." And the movie hears you and gets a little nervous so they release upon us the secret weapon of awesome that is none other than Shelley Winters. Shelley Effin Winters. As a sassy housekeeper. 

I know guys, I know. Right about now you're wondering how it's possible that I've been able to contain my almost paralyzing (pun intended) enthusiasm. How can I still speak (or write)? How am I remembering to breathe? Well I'll tell ya, I'm just about to lose all human senses because smack in the middle of The Visitor is nothing less than an extended slow motion hunt on an ice skating rink, with Katie double axeling her way through a gang of teenage bullies without breaking a sweat.

From there, what more do you need? John Huston playing Pong with a kid? Shelley Winters slapping said kid for sassin'? Birdings? A birding that involves a bird shooting out a pointy beak as if it were a retractable knife in a street fight? Lasers? More lasers? THERE ARE NEVER TOO MANY LASERS.


I sure am. 

High Points

Low Points
I suppose I could take fault with the oddness of Sam Peckinpah's scene as Barbara's do-gooder ex due to its awkwardness, but the IMDB trivia explanation that essentially sums it up as "Peckinpah was too drunk to learn his lines so the whole thing is dubbed over in post" satisfies that issue, right?

Lessons Learned
Capricorns are the WORST

Shockingly, women aren't thrilled when you announce your engagement to them before actually asking if they want to get married

Shelley Winters don't do windows

John Huston is definitely not a teenage girl

Long out of print, The Visitor is currently streaming on Amazon Prime, where you will now drop your computer/phone/baby immediately and head to watch. Guys, this movie is incredible. Figure skating incredible. Short'nin bread incredible. Bird attacks incredible. Get on it. 


  1. It's now available to own on DVD and Bluray from Drafthouse Films. Great site! I'm having a blast reading these reviews. You've got a great "voice" to your writing