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Drafthouse Films Rediscovers The Sci-Fi/Horror Epic That 1979 Couldn’t Handle
June 19, 2013 | Evan Husney

Drafthouse Films Rediscovers The Sci-Fi/Horror Epic That 1979 Couldn’t Handle

An intergalactic warrior battles alongside a cosmic Christ figure against a demonic eight-year-old girl and her pet hawk, as the fate of the universe hangs in the balance in 1979's The Visitor. 

Today we announce the acquisition of our first repertory release of 2013, the phantasmagoric sci-fi/horror/action/??? hybrid The Visitor from 1979. Legendary Hollywood director/actor John Huston (The Maltese Falcon; Treasure Of The Sierra Madre) stars as an intergalactic warrior battling alongside a cosmic Christ figure against a demonic eight-year-old girl and her pet hawk, as the fate of the universe hangs in the balance.

In the dawn of ‘70s American blockbusters, European production companies emerged stateside, attempting to recreate box office gold by cloning Hollywood. The infamous Supreme Court-banned Jaws copy Great White, The Exorcist-esque Beyond The Door, and countless others were packaged for export and the burgeoning drive-in circuit. Producer Ovidio G. Assonitis and Director/Professional Body Builder Michael J. Paradise’s The Visitor (1979) stands as perhaps the most ambitious of all, taking its inspiration by artfully fusing The Omen, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, The Birds, Rosemary’s Baby, The Fury and Star Wars alongside a baffling cast that includes Shelley Winters (Night Of The Hunter), Glenn Ford (Superman), Lance Henriksen (Aliens), Franco Nero (Django) and Sam Peckinpah(!).

The result is not so much a carbon copy, but rather an entertainingly hallucinatory and inscrutable mash-up that repertory cinema programmers around the country have rediscovered for late-night bookings. “Just when you think you've nailed down which direction the film is heading in, it completely shatters your notion of the time-space continuum,” says LA art-house The Cinefamily. At the time of its original release, The Visitor universally received poor reviews by mainstream critics including TV Guide who simply called it “junk,” but now, the film stands as “the Mount Everest of insane ‘70s Italian movies” (Mondo Digital).

This film is from another time, another place and another wholly different dimension and contains the highest JDPM (jaw-drops-per-minute) ratio out of any movie we have ever encountered. The Visitor is a repertory mainstay at the Drafthouse Ritz and is truly one of the most joyfully delirious theatrical experiences we’ve unleashed on audiences. The world wasn’t ready for this film in 1979, and it still may not be. Regardless, we are ecstatic to be able to reintroduce cinema’s most colossally bizarro achievement. Ever.

 A new HD restoration from the original, uncut film materials is planned for a theatrical, home video and multi Video On Demand/Digital platform release later in the year. US Fans who enroll in the Drafthouse Alliance subscription program can guarantee pre-order for the film.

 


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