The Visitor (Stridulum)

The Visitor was exceedingly well-filmed by Paradisi, and then very badly cut by a distributor or someone else whose hand is evident particularly in the first few reels. Individual scenes and sequences are flawlessly shot and edited in beautiful Italianate style, then suddenly a gross chop introduces the saboteur. This is so obvious that there is no difficulty in identifying the damage, which indicates a complete negative somewhere to be found.

Even in its present state, the film is very brilliant indeed. The devil runs Hell as a corporate boardroom tended by a manservant, and has sired a little girl. To further his kingdom on Earth, he requires the mother to mate and conceive a son, but alas she is now in a wheelchair. Her lover fails, and the devil takes matters into his own hands.

John Huston is on the side of the angels, and brings down the Holy Spirit upon the malefactors, but not before the mother has consulted Sam Peckinpah for an abortion. Franco Nero has a bit part as Jesus.

The sort of evil the little girl is up to is shown during a basketball game’s last few seconds in slow motion at the beginning, the player leaps to win the game with a final dunk, the ball explodes.

The Bad Seed, Rosemary’s Baby, The Island of Dr. Moreau and The Birds are all components of a great film, made in Atlanta with an eye for the American city like Sergio Sollima’s in Cittą Violenta (another film belying the casual observational powers of the great public).