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The Visitor aka 'Stridulum' [Blu-ray]
(Giulio Paradisi - as Michael J. Paradise, 1979)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Brouwersgracht Investments
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 23,140,982,485 bytes
Feature Size: 18,644,803,584 bytes
Video Bitrate: 19.99 Mbps
Case: Transparent Blu-ray case
Release date: March 4th, 2014
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1577 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1577 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
English (SDH), none
Interview with Star Lance Henriksen (9:02)
• Trailer (1:53) and other trailers
16-page liner notes - Conversation with Ovidio Assonitis (writer/producer of The Visitor)
Code for Digital Copy
Description: In this unforgettable assault on reality--fully restored and presented completely uncut theatrically for the first time ever in the U.S.--legendary Hollywood director/actor John Huston (The Maltese Falcon; Treasure of the Sierra Madre) stars as an intergalactic warrior who joins a cosmic Christ figure in battle against a demonic 8-year-old girl and her pet hawk, while the fate of the universe hangs in the balance. Multi-dimensional warfare, pre-adolescent profanity and brutal avian attacks combine to transport the viewer to a stat unlike anything they've experienced… somewhere between Hell, the darkest reaches of outer space, and Atlanta, GA. THE VISITOR fearlessly fuses elements of The Omen, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Birds, Rosemary's Baby, The Fury, and even Star Wars, creating the most ambitious of all '70s psychedelic mindwarps. Its baffling all-star cast includes Shelley Winters (Night of the Hunter), Glenn Ford (Superman), Lance Henriksen (Aliens), Franco Nero (Django) and Sam Peckinpah (director of The Wild Bunch).
Learning that one of Satan's spawn is an eight year old girl named Katy (Paige Connor), Jesus Christ (Franco Nero, DJANGO) sends Jerzy Colsowicz (director John Huston, who also picked up a check guesting in Assonitis' JAWS cash-in TENTACLES) to Atlanta to investigate. He finds that Satan's minions have plans for precocious Katy's mother Barbara (Joanne Nail) giving birth to an equally "gifted" son. When her boyfriend Raymond (Lance Henriksen, who also popped up in the Assonitis-produced CHOKE CANYON) is unable to convince her to marry him, sinister forces arrange for Barbara to become paralyzed (thanks to a handgun that shows up in one of Katy's birthday presents) but Barbara may have some protection in the form of mystical housekeeper Jane (Shelley Winters, who also popped up with Huston in TENTACLES) and Jerzy, who has become Katy's babysitter. When Raymond's further attempts fail, sinister Dr. Walker (Mel Ferrer, WAR AND PEACE) comes up with more efficient means to insure Barbara's pregnancy. Jerzy, meanwhile, has plans of a different nature for Katy. THE VISITOR (original title: STRIDULUM) is a near incoherent mash-up of antichrist movies and science fiction (the commentary moderators also point out the similarities of the ice rink sequence to THE FURY). Henriksen had appeared before this in DAMIEN: OMEN II and Glenn Ford's (THE BIG HEAT) detective meets a bird-related death similar to that of Elizabeth Shepherd's character in the same film (while Jerry Goldsmith's score for OMEN II mimicked raven caws, Franco Micalizzi's - who also scored BEYOND THE DOOR - funky score for THE VISITOR works in synthesized hawk cries). The birds used throughout the film were trained by Ray Berwick of Hitchcock's THE BIRDS. There is really no explanation, however, for Huston's performance art Hari Krishna minions. Nail makes for a sympathetic heroine and Connors is one of the better creepy kids of the eighties "killer kids" subgenre following THE OMEN. Henriksen is his usual unsettling presence while Mel Ferrer phones it in (as usual in his later Italian horror entries). Huston is his usual authoritative self while fellow director Peckinpah gives a more conventional performance. Ford doesn't get much screen time but takes his part seriously (despite having "next victim" stamped on his forehead). Shelley Winters' ultimately benevolent housekeeper seems to have been at least inspired by Billie Whitelaw's more sinister character in THE OMEN. Nero is hard to take seriously in his Christ getup but his scenes provide a lot of backstory. Elizabeth Turner, who played concerned friend to the possessed heroine of Assonitis' BEYOND THE DOOR, turns up here briefly as Katy's aunt and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (a year before AIRPLANE!) appears as himself during the opening basketball game. The fine cinematography is by Ennio Guarnieri (with second unit work by BEYOND THE DOOR DP/co-director Roberto D'Ettore Piazzoli). The visual effects are sometimes hokey but charming. Director Giulio Paradise (credited as "Michael J. Paradise") is not really known outside of Italy for his few directorial works although he had small roles in Fellini's LA DOLCE VITA and 8 1/2 and is better known as a director of TV commercials. Georgia experienced a mini Italian filmmaking boom around this time (Savannah played host to Lucio Fulci for CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD and Antonio Margheriti for CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE).
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The Visitor comes to Blu-ray from Drafthouse Films. Eric reviewed the, now out-of-print, Code Red DVD from 2010 with a strong bitrate, HERE. This BD is single-layered with a modest bitrate, but looks to support the film's heaviness better than SD. I suspect this is not far from being fairly authentic to the film's true appearance. Actually, the close-ups show some decent detail but the film is fairly flat, a few brighter colors (blood!) and no gloss. I could have seen a bit of noise but it wasn't obvious. It is accurate in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The effects can look 'silly' but not overly transparent because of the higher resolution. Heck, it looks as it looks - no demo or dynamic attributes but certainly watchable.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Audio is transferred via a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1577 kbps. It has some ackwardness to it (as does the entire film) but you seems to accept the minor sync issues fairly quickly. There are some squeaky effects that export a bit of bass. Franco Micalizzi (known for some music on Grindhouse releases Planet Terror and Death Proof - as well as Taratino's Django Unchained) does the score and it is as campy as the film - large, orchestral, overpowering, very 70's. Not supportive of the film, IMO. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A' disc.
The, now OOP, DVD had two commentaries (star Joanne Nail, moderated by Marc Edward Hueck and the second with star Paige Connor, moderated by Scott Spiegel) as well as a 21-minute featurette (Revisiting The Visitor). This Blu-ray has about 25-minutes worth of three interviews with star Lance Henriksen (9:02), screenwriter Lou Comici (9:10), and cinematographer Ennio Guarnieris (4:26). It was interesting learning more about the film after seeing it - and I might try to track down the SD for the commentaries. The Blu-ray also has a trailer and 16-page liner notes - a conversation with Ovidio Assonitis (writer/producer of The Visitor) and you even get a code for Digital Copy for portable devices. This film would be a doozy to watch on the train on the way to work!
February 22nd, 2013
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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