How a film that stars John Huston, Shelley Winters, Lance Henriksen, Glenn Ford, Franco Nero and Sam Peckinpah went unnoticed is a mystery. But the 1979 sci-fi obscurity "The Visitor" is returning for a run at the Cinefamily starting Saturday following sell-out shows last weekend of its new HD restoration undertaken by Drafthouse Films.
Directed by Michael J. Paradise (a nom du cinema for Italian filmmaker Giulio Paradisi), "The Visitor" may be that rare film genuinely beyond description. Huston plays an intergalactic warrior attempting to save a telekinetic little girl. Shot in Atlanta, the film is set, as far as one can tell, in some multi-dimensional netherworld, not quite heaven, not exactly hell.
"I think it's been resonating quite deeply with people because it transcends any kind of rational 'so-bad-it's-good' feeling, creating a genuine surrealistic unease," said Cinefamily programmer Bret Berg in an email. "It's striving for genuine entertainment value, but all its aesthetic choices add up to a feeling that the filmmakers are Martians attempting to approximate 'human entertainment.'"
Describing the film as a simultaneous rip-off of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "The Omen," Berg added, "it's one of the most truly unpredictable films Cinefamily has ever come across. Not a single scene telegraphs anything that comes after it."
After its revival release of the rock martial arts movie "Miami Connection" and "The Visitor," Drafthouse Films will also be putting Abel Ferrara's 1981 "Ms. 45" back in theaters early next year.
"The Visitor" is playing at the Cinefamily through the 14th. Check its calendar for details. The trailer is below. Consider yourself warned:
Follow Mark Olsen on twitter: @IndieFocus
PHOTOS AND MORE