Though considered a straight-up rip-off of major Hollywood blockbusters at that time, the 1979 sci-fi horror mash-up The Visitor is a true classic in its uncut form. One that stands alongside its influences as a great example of 70s cinema. Sure, it culls its innards from plenty of iconic genre masterpieces. But working like some long lost Quentin Tarantino grindhouse epic, the movie proves itself to be a wholly original entity that surfs on its own unique wave of ridiculous awesomeness.
Quite simply, it's the best movie you'll see this November. And if you love classics from that era, you'll not want to miss The Visitor, as Drafthouse Films rolls out a remastered theatrical release in several major cities. It will also be available this January on VOD and Netflix. This strange hybrid is notorious for giving us one of Hollywood legend John Huston's final performances. He stars as an Obi-Wan type old man sent on an intergalactic mission to defeat a foul-mouthed 8-year-old girl and her pet hawk before their evil can destroy the universe. If that description hasn't sold you a ticket, I'm not sure you're even ready for the expansion of craziness that is spring boarded off this quaint idea.
A bit of history: Before the advent of the modern day Mockbuster, Italian filmmakers in the 70s played at the same conceit by making cheap rip-offs of the day's current hits. Great White is a sterling example, as it was such a perfect Jaws clone, the Supreme Court had it banned and thrown out of the country. Beyond the Door is another, working to Xerox a little of that Exorcist magic for its own financial gain. The Visitor was planned as a Drive-In B movie that would grab a hold of genre audiences hungry for another Star Wars, but as these things sometimes do, it took on a life of its own, with director Giulio Paradisi (aka Michael J. Paradise) and producer Ovidio G. Assonitis deciding to throw everything else at their disposal into the mix, making for a grand duckpress fist to the gut that knocked some moviegoers unconscious.
Today, we're looking at the 10 Essential Classics that were culled together and whip-mixed in a big bowl of holy shit for what stands as one of Italy's grand achievements in 1970s cinema. These are the films we suggest you watch before imbibing in this glorious stretch of celluloid that subverts its schlock roots to become something more than the sum of its iconic parts. Without these movies, The Visitor probably wouldn't exist.
1The Omen (1976)
Tagline: You have been warned. If something frightening happens to you today, think about it. It may be The Omen. Premise: An American ambassador learns that his child is actually the Antichrist. He must then end the child's reign of terror. The Visitor Connection: Barbara Collins (Joanne Nail) is used as a vessel for delivering evil incarnate to earth in the form of a child. Little Katy (Paige Conner) might not be the 'antichrist', but hey, close enough. And she wants (or rather, demands) a brother. In steps Raymond Armstead (a young, handsome Lance Henriksen, as if we knew there was such a thing), who has been sperm-tasked by an NWO-like cult with bringing a second evil child into our world. But the mom catches on fast, and tries to put an end to this spawning of darkness that threatens to eclipse the whole planet. It doesn't help that she is kidnapped and raped, and impregnated against her will when limp dick Raymond fails to deliver the needed seed. Will she have an intergalactic abortion? Or will she be the first mom in movie history to birth an Antichristic brood hellbent on destroying mankind?