Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Drafthouse Films - THE VISITOR on Blu-ray ""

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Drafthouse Films - THE VISITOR on Blu-ray

THE VISITOR (1979; Guilio Paradisi)
The term "WTF Movie" gets bandied about a little too freely in my opinion. It's lost a little bit of its punch as a result of overuse, much like the word "genius". "WTF" has become more of a genre onto itself which is part of this dilution of power. I first discovered THE VISITOR in the "Holyfuckingshit" section at Cinefile Video in Los Angeles. It's a great classification and really described a lot if the movies in that section quite well. I remember seeing things like THE GARBAGE PAIL KIDS MOVIE, NUKIE, THE PEANUT BUTTER SOLUTION and the nearly inexplicable SURVIVING EDGED WEAPONS. A more contemporary entry was DREAMCATCHER. All these movies had a good deal of what-the-fuckery packed into them and I was pleased as punch to see them all in a section together. So here sat the video box for THE VISITOR, which I had only heard spoken of in hushed tones of confusion and amazement. If you've ever seen XTRO, it was talk akin to the reaction people have to that remarkable piece of craziness. And by the way, if you haven't seen XTRO, definitely seek it out. Both XTRO and THE VISITOR represent what a transcendent experience Holyfuckingshit cinema can be. They are the gold standard in my opinion. It is truly a film that you just kind of have to roll with and wash over you like a nightmare.
To try to describe the plot of this movie is a bit futile, but to suffice to say that it's about a little girl who is possessed by the devil and an exorcist squaring off with her. This movie has a very high count of shots of people flying through glass in slow motion and that's pretty fantastic. More films should have that. Also it has many amazing surrealistic landscape shots. Super dreamy and strange, kind of like the end of Fulci's THE BEYOND if you remember that. Italian directors seems to have this knack for strange surreal visuals. I can't imagine what their dreams must be like. Oh and the movie has a weird bird motif as well. Lots of birds present throughout. Birds are naturally quite cinematic so it adds to the overall freaky visual fabric of the film. Oh and the cast in this flick is remarkable. To start with you've got John Huston and Shelley Winters (who were both also in the Italian production of TENTACLES a few years earlier). Then add in Glenn Ford, Mel Ferrer, Lance Henriksen and Sam Peckinpah! Ridiculously awesome. Also, Joanne Nail joins in as well (you will remember her from a little Jack Hill movie called SWITCHBLADE SISTERS)!
One thing I think folks often forget about when they see a movie they don't care for or one that is challenging for them is just how difficult it is to get any film made in the first place. I think as film technology has gotten sleeker and cheaper people have this tendency to think that filmmaking is easy. It's never easy and when a good film is made it is just as much a convergence of good luck as it is of good decisions and competent hard work. "Bad" films (or those that some people might classify they way) are just as much a melange of the opposite ingredients. A movie like THE VISITOR almost never happens because of all the elements that must come together perfectly (and they do come together in a bizarrely perfect way here) for such a thing to occur are nigh onto impossible. I guarantee that THE VISITOR will be as unique and memorable a cinematic experience as you'll have this year. Don't try to make sense of it , just go with it.

Included as supplements on this disc are several newly recorded interviews:
-"Visiting Lance Henriksen" (9 mins)
Veteran actor Henriksen talks about the hodgepodge of ideas in the script that puzzled together into a film and how he was more serving movies than creating characters at the time he made THE VISITOR. He seems amusingly bewildered recalling his experiences on the prodiction and with all the other actors and particularly John Huston who was the impetus for being drawn to the project. He also has a good story about seeing the film when it opened in New York City.
-"Writing THE VISITOR with Lou Comici" (9 mins)
Screenwriter Comici talks about how he was brought in on the production and asked by the producer to do a ripoff of THE EXORCIST (though they didn't want it to be an exact ripoff) and also to reign in the director of the movie because he was a little "out there". He proceeds to explain the plot as the director had it in his head which is really very entertaining. I loved the bit about the director being obsessed with bathroom scenes. Apparently the director's thinking was that people take a shit every day, so it belonged in the movie. Comici's recounting of the conflict between the producer and the director is intriguing and sort of goes a ways to explain some of why the film turned out the way it did.
-Lastly, there is a 5-minute interview with Director of Photography Ennio Guarnieri. He only speaks Italian so it is a subtitled interview which plays out as a shot of Guarnieri in a chair while shots from THE VISITOR play behind him. He gives a bit of his history with director Paradisi and how they got started working on commercials together. He goes into a little detail on how certain special effects were accomplished (smoke & liquids) as well as how some of the stunt camerawork was done.

I've been a fan of Drafthouse films' out out for quite some time and they are really starting out 2014 with a bang having released this and with MS. 45 on the way in just a few weeks. I cannot wait to see what lies ahead for us fans of memorable cinema in the remainder of 2014.

1 comment:

Marc Edward Heuck said...

It should be mentioned that Code Red DVD were first on the scene with an excellent release of the film that included two commentaries, one of which featured myself with Joanne Nail, the other featured star Paige Connor; both lovely ladies also did on-camera interviews on that disc.

It should also be noted that Code Red still had years left on their contract when the Italian licensors double-crossed them and sold it to Drafthouse, and rather than compensate them for the mixup, Drafthouse has pretended this release never existed, to the point of making Code Red remove it from their own website. I like everyone at Drafthouse and what they do, but I cannot get on board with how they have handled this matter, so I will NOT be buying this Blu-Ray.