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THE VISITOR (1979) – Episode 174 – Decades of Horror 1970s

“That bugs me, man. That really bugs me.” This ends up being Glenn Ford’s key line in his short appearance in this episode’s movie. Join your faithful Grue Crew – Doc Rotten, Chad Hunt, Bill Mulligan, and Jeff Mohr – as they come away with a slew of questions after watching The Visitor (1979) and its star-studded cast.

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 174 – The Visitor (1979)

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Synopsis: The soul of a young girl with telekinetic powers becomes the prize in a fight between forces of good and evil.

Chad chose The Visitor for this episode’s discussion, but he confesses that he had no idea what was going on at any given moment during the film. On top of his confusion with the storyline, he was “bored off his hindquarters” while some scenes dragged on forever and ever and ever… To him, it felt like a ripoff of The Exorcist (1973) and The Omen (1976) with a little science fiction twist thrown in. Of course, there was the hate-eliciting kid, dripping with evil, and the inappropriate music backing many scenes.

Though competently made, according to Bill, The Visitor is a mess. The incoherent story seemed to go a little Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) while still not making a lick of sense. Echoing Chad’s feelings about the kid, he admits he cheered when Shelley Winters’ character slapped her. He finishes with, “Of all the WTF 1970s movies we’ve done, this is the WTFest.”

Jeff agrees with Chad that The Visitor is way too long with what seemed like some endless sequences. Once he realized it was an Italian film, the presence of a confusing storyline kind of made sense. The second time he watched it the plot became somewhat less opaque, but he would never recommend that anyone else watch it twice.

The Visitor took some life out of Doc and made his brain hurt trying to figure out what was happening. For him, it plays a lot like Damien: Omen II (1978) with Lance Henriksen even playing a similar part. He also found some unintentionally comedic scenes and while the film has its moments, on the whole, he had to fight to not fall asleep.

Despite the 70s Grue-Crew’s poor impressions, The Visitor does have a cult following and sports an excellent cast that outperforms the material. At the time of this writing, The Visitor is available to stream from Shudder, Peacock, Kanopy, Tubi, and Freevee. The Visitor is also available on physical media as a Blu-ray from Drafthouse.

Gruesome Magazine’s Decades of Horror 1970s is part of the Decades of Horror two-week rotation with The Classic Era and the 1980s. In two weeks, the next episode in their very flexible schedule, chosen by Doc, will be Hammer’s Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde (1971). That won’t be confusing at all.

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Jeff Mohr
Jeff lives smack dab in the middle of the cornfields of Iowa and is a long-time horror fan. His first remembered encounters with the genre were The Wizard of Oz, Tarzan gorilla chases, and watching the first broadcast of The Twilight Zone episode, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." While he now qualifies as an old fart, he strives to be an Old Boy. Paraphrasing Robert Bloch, he has the heart of a small boy. He keeps it in a jar on his desk. Jeff has written for and SQ Horror Magazine. He currently writes for Gruesome Magazine and is a co-host of the Decades of Horror podcasts - The Classic Era, 1970s, and 1980s - and the Gruesome Magazine Podcast.