Terror Tuesday host Zack Carlson has a brilliant way of building up the anticipation for the films we’re about to see. In this week’s Terror Tuesday, he told us a story of a director named Giulio Paradisi, a man who felt he had a unique film and didn’t want to be saddled with the stereotypes that had developed toward Italian horror directors. To combat against these stereotypes, he changed his name to Michael J. Paradise, a name worthy of even the sleaziest car salesman or, in this case, a very strange director.
Very loosely, the story is centered on an 8-year-old girl with telekinetic powers and then switches focus to the battle between good and evil. Katy is a unique child, carrying within her the power of Sateen, and her primary mission on earth is to carry this power forward, a task accomplished by convincing her mother Barbara to bear a similarly endowed male child with whom Katy would eventually mate with. Representing good is an old man who comes complete with his own theme music that sounds like something straight out of a Blaxploitation film. He’s been sent forth to Earth by Jesus, who lives in space and tells stories to children about the impending doom that Katy represents. Believe it or not it gets even crazier than that.
There are a few interesting portions of the film, particularly the performance of a perpetually drunk Shelley Winters. The actress, who is no stranger to the Alamo Drafthouse crowd, supposedly accepted the role because she got to slap a child. She got to slap a child very hard…in the face. Alamo Drafthouse and movie geek favorite Lance Henrickson is also in it as the owner of a basketball team. His role is kinda small in the film but at least there’s a 10 minute scene of a basketball game in which nothing happens but the game. Anyone who knows me would think I would enjoy that sort of thing, and I did sort of, but it was still odd to see. The child in question (Paige Conner), tried to play a creepy kid, which is one of my irrational movie fears, but mostly just played an overly whiny kid who wants a brother to play with.
Shelley Winter’s performance was on one of the few shining spots in the film, and throughout I kept looking around wondering if I was even experiencing a real thing. I sat next to my friend Paul who absolutely loved it, thus making the evening even more surreal for me. During the moments of extreme confusion and overall terribleness I would look over at Paul dumfounded and yet there he sat, with the biggest God damned grin I’ve ever seen on his face.
There aren’t a lot of Terror Tuesdays that make me wish I would have stayed home and watched anything else. The Visitor made me feel that way. When it was over I looked over at Paul, who was still beaming and asked, “Was that four hours long? I feel like that was four hours long.” It’s usually easy to embrace the “so bad it’s good” type of films that often play this Alamo series, but this one was totally lost on me.
Zack had an interesting monologue before the screening. This is where he told us about the name change of Giulio Paradisi to Michael J. Paradise and waxed poetic about the ridiculousness of that name. It’s even more ridiculous when you see it in giant letters on a big screen. That being said, the crowd seemed into it overall, and didn’t seem to mind the ridiculousness of the film. The biggest moment of anticipation came towards the end of the film, some three and a half hours (read: an hour or so in realtime) and the crowd loved it.