Written by / 9/09/2017 / No comments / , , , , , , , , ,

PAIGE CONNER POSSESSES 'THE VISITOR' AKA 'STRIDULUM'

The little girl version of Travis Bickle in Paige Conner YEAR: 1979
THE VISTOR has gone down in cult camp  flames as a one of a kind, terribly low budget, god-awful catastrophe that stands on its own, despite the fact there are many influences throughout. Starting with THE BIRDS since the eight-year-old, blond-haired, blue-eyed girl, possessed by supernatural forces derived from another dimension, has a singular frenzied, peck-happy, fine feathered friend who keeps her safe...

Especially from a snoopy detective, played by the most famous of the "special guest" stars, Glenn Ford, who provides the audience a rudimentary tether to hold onto but... not for long before a gritty, grainy exploitation element takes charge, pushing the show up a notch or two and providing arguably the most memorable sequence. Still, Ford's presence is apt yet awkward since he's not in the movie long enough to mean more than a contrived appearance...

Thank Hell... for Little Girls
Which can't be said of the titular star, John Huston, a sort of Obi-Wan Kenobi who, after a meeting with Franco Nero as a Jesus Christ in Utopia, ventures to earth to take down the girl who is, indeed and literally speaking, a little monster..

In that, child starlet Paige Conner (who'd grow to be an Atlanta Falcons cheerleader) turns in one of the greatest possessed kid performances ever. Of course Linda Blair's iconic turn in THE EXORCIST is the Marlon Brando/Don Corleone of this particular gene. But Conner goes way outside the box — she's more the proverbial verb to Blair's devilish noun i.e. this shaking bed has legs...

Cursing at Glenn Ford with such genuine venom his reaction seems entirely true before returning to her sweet country drawl. So then, this girl, the daughter of a basketball team owner's girlfriend, become three examples of another influence, ROSEMARY'S BABY (Lance Henriksen as the John Cassevetes soul-seller), keeping the story brisk and, despite the low-budget effects while showing what's beyond our world, VISITOR takes to the streets with precision, and not seeming as cheap while looking professionally choreographed...

Kids can be a real drag
Especially in a sequence when Conner's wicked little Katie Collins makes like The Hanson Brothers in a surprise homage, SLAP SHOT — no joke. While she tricks and punishes a handful of teenage boys who are trying to catch her on the ice in a public rink, the action is corralled very much like the hockey classic. Combine this with obvious nods to sci-fi classics like INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS or even CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND when the film's only human antagonist... the lovely mom in Patrica Nail... is abducted by some kind of aliens who are actually, well...

There's a lot of THE VISITOR that shouldn't be spoiled, and it's not as insufferably campy as its reputation implies... John Huston, along with tough nanny Shelley Winters, seem a lot more into this Italian foreign package than they were in TENTACLES. Making this dusty gem a great fixture for the time and genre, if based mostly on its Horror roots...

Genuine Article Score: ***1/2 Cult Camp Value: ****
Despite the fact all the flaws are excessive and noticeable and dated, it's still quite original despite the influences — centering on a prolonged battle between good and evil. Which does go on too long. When the movie should end it sustains another twenty minutes...

The climax is remarkably creepy with insane violence, and the Italian director seems to know he's punishing his characters as well as the audience...

Leaving any and all negative aspects to anyone expecting something ordinary, THE VISITOR is for the oblivious, kooky few that read between the lines — whether there's any words there or not. And least we forget one of the most borrowed if overused multi-mirror peaks derived by Orson Welles for THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI. Yet by this time you'll be either stunned or entertained, or a combination of both.
This appears not in the opening but the closing credits
Franco Nero is the surfer Jesus of the white room of limbo
Paige Conner looking cool as Elton John at a basketball game
Our long haired young starlet goes from Melissa Sue Anderson to Kojack
Paige Conner starring in THE VISITOR
Paige Conner as the modern day Mary Ingalls
Glenn Ford gets curious with The Little Heat, Paige Conner
Paige Conner in THE VISITOR
An eerie/old Sam Peckinpah cameo: seems more her dad or grandpa than ex husband, and it isn't his voice
Paige Conner and John Huston playing Pong
The Orson Welles many-mirrored battle
Joanne Nail as the Rosemary's of this cult Baby
Paige Conner's able to walk, or rather, run on air... Her shoes are Air Satans
She could put her hands on the screen, "They're Here!"
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